As I write this, the national unemployment rate still sits at over 8%. While hardly news, it warrants repeating that there are currently close to 15 million Americans who are unemployed and another 10 million seeking to change their present employment situation. Needless to say, competition for jobs is fierce. While perhaps not as obvious, but probably no less important, employers and recruiters are finding it more difficult than ever to efficiently sort through the seemingly endless pile of resumes that come in for each job opening they seek to fill.
Online job sites and social networking sites have, in many ways, rendered the standard classified ads obsolete. In fact, some employers use only online modalities to source and recruit potential employees, be they new or lateral hires. At least 80% of all employers use or plan to use social media in their efforts to fill open job positions. It’s hard to imagine anyone who is seriously looking for work who does not use job sites and social networking sites (SNS) as components of his or her job search strategy.
Although the vast majority of employers that use social media rely on LinkedIn as part of their hiring process (estimates run as high as 95%), LinkedIn is by no means the only social networking site utilized by employers. Surveys have indicated that over 42% of these employers use Twitter in their search for job candidates. Given the popularity of Twitter with prospective employers (and, presumably, recruiters as well), it is a prudent individual who incorporates this social media platform into any job search strategy.
The best thing about using Twitter is that your communication is instantaneous. The worst thing about using Twitter is that your communication is instantaneous. Like anything you post on the internet, whatever you “tweet” becomes a permanent part of the cyber universe, easily discoverable whether you want it to be or not. There are tales too numerous to tell about individuals who sent out tweets that seemed like a good idea at the time but, in retrospect, were clearly not. Usually, this occurs with respect to someone’s personal life.
If you use Twitter as part of your job search strategy, however, extra care should be taken before you send that tweet. Unlike Twitter in your personal life, an ill-advised communication that impacts your professional life can, in a worst-case scenario, kill your career. As is so often the case in life, when using Twitter to look for a job, discretion is the better part of valor.
Of course, if you do indeed rely on Twitter as part of your job search strategy, you should remember that it’s difficult to place any restriction on who follows you until after the fact. That said, unless you have no concerns about how you are perceived in the “Twitterverse”, it’s best to exercise professionalism and decorum whenever you Tweet.
The use of Twitter in your job search strategy isn’t just limited to what you communicate to your followers, of course. In fact, Twitter might be a more effective job search tool when used to follow others. Whether it be professional consultants or the official feed of a company or industry in which you have a keen interest, paying attention to those you follow helps keep you current on news, information and opinion, all of which are potentially beneficial to your employment search.
Social Networking Sites are inescapable. Refusing to engage is no longer recommended, especially if you are developing a job search strategy for yourself. Consider SNS a toolbox and Twitter one of the tools.