Social media. Whether you love it or loathe it, you can’t escape its influence. The good news is it may be more useful and less vapid than you think.
Twitter, in particular, is an excellent tool to use for networking. ‘Following’ someone on Twitter is a less stressful event than ‘Friend’-ing someone on Facebook, where the ‘Friend’-ed party has to choose whether to accept or deny the Friend request. Without the pressure of social reciprocity, Twitter users can build a relationship online instead of having to come to the social media site with a preexisting relationship with the person.
As many have discovered, this type of environment is perfect for someone on the prowl for a job. I’m sure everyone understands how dismal the job market is out there, so I’ll keep the sobering statistics to myself, but let’s just say it takes more than a great resume and cover letter to get ahead these days. Here’s how you can harness the power of Twitter to land you the job of a lifetime.
- Tweet to be noticed. Of course this means different things in different fields. What a comedian Tweets to catch the attention of potential employers is – and should! – look completely different from what an accountant looking for work would post. But whether your posts are bold and brassy or letter-perfect and professional make sure they express your expertise and passion for the topic.
- Compress your elevator speech to 140 characters and use it as your Twitter bio. This way, the first thing people see when they click onto your Twitter feed is that you mean business. And, for goodness sakes, be sure your picture reflects that fact as well – whatever that means in your field.
- Connect, connect, connect. Connect with companies you’d like to work with, connect with individuals whose work you respect, connect with the leaders in your field… and then talk back to them. Make them laugh with a witty assertion about an article they posted, or make them think by contesting a point they make in a blog post. When these powerful people recognize you as an engaged member of the community, they’re more likely to reach out to you with advice or a job.
- Take the conversation offline. If you hit it off with someone on Twitter, don’t be afraid to continue the conversation over coffee. A lot of times these face-to-face ‘informational interviews’ lead to job offerings. Once a person understands you’re just as articulate and intelligent as you present yourself online, they’ll be more willing to vouch for you in their companies and to their colleagues. Be sure to prepare for an in-person meeting with a Twitter contact by coming up with some relevant questions to spark the conversation.
- Live a Tweet-worthy life. You can engage others all you want, but if you’re not Tweeting about your own interesting projects or blog posts, people won’t get a complete idea of what you’re all about. Sure, you Tweet back and forth about your love of Ajax with programmers from Google, but if you can’t show them how you’ve applied your passion it’s hard for them to justify offering you a job. Actively seek out and create new projects to share with potential employers. Working on a manuscript or an iPod App on your own time without the promise of a paycheck is an easy way for employers to gauge your passion and motivation.