A social media executive has always used Twitter in his job seeking. Here, he shares some tips and insights
I've been a massive fan of social media since I first joined MySpace in 2003. I love the way it allows you to communicate with your friends for free and learn more about people you may have only met a handful of times.
It's this passion for social platforms that led me to design and develop my own social network – a website which allowed Nottingham-based businesses to communicate directly with their customers – while still at university, with the financial help and support from a business enterprise agency called The Hive.
The venture didn't survive past its difficult first year, but it did lead me into working with businesses in Nottingham, helping them develop their online presence on social networks including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Upon graduation I wasn't about to give up on social media, so I decided to incorporate it into my search for a job. In less than two years, I've become head of social media at a digital agency called Crab Creative.
Twitter has always been a key tool that I've used to create career opportunities. I've either found the roles advertised via Twitter or first made contact with a company this way. Here are some tips and insights I've picked up along the way.
Don't follow everyone
I began my job search by following the 10 to 15 companies I really wanted to work for. The rest I added to a "list" on Twitter; these lists are designed to help you organise the people and topics you are interested in, whether you follow them or not. This meant I wasn't bombarded with a mixed feed of friends, companies and brands. I checked my list everyday while I was searching for work and now that I have a great job I barely check it. I know it's always there if I want to get an update on the industry or make another career move, but it doesn't interfere with my regular use of Twitter.
Follow members of staff
I found following existing employees (particularly recruitment officers) much more helpful than following the company's Twitter account. Individuals are much more likely to respond. Plus it may help you stay one step ahead of the rest of the job market: they'll often tweet if they're changing jobs, which let's you know there's a vacancy.
I found lots of companies had a list called "staff" where you can find the employees, but you can also search by users' bios using Google – like I did here. I'd recommend following the list itself. It saves time and has the advantage that whenever a new member of staff joins the company you will get their tweets automatically (once they've been added to the list).
Increasingly companies are using Twitter to advertise jobs as well as message boards. The character limitations mean they have to be succinct. I recently worked with the Royal College of Nursing to devise a posting plan to advertise some upcoming jobs – so it's not just social media companies utilising this medium.
You can also get more specific by removing keywords or including hashtags. This can make finding a local job a lot easier and for me location was very important as I didn't want a commute that would take more than an hour. The majority of the previous positions I've held have been found via Twitter search, looking for tweets that include words such as "social media role".
Tweet about your work and experiences in your chosen industry
Don't do this every time you get told the report was good. But I've tweeted links to applications, blogposts and achievements that I am proud of. I've had people retweet these and reply to offer feedback on what they would do differently.
When you make your account private, by definition, you make yourself less visible. I wouldn't advise it. If you're worried that your personal tweets will lose you a job or stop you getting an interview, either get a second Twitter account or don't tweet while you're on the job hunt.
Make use of your bio
Several industry (social media specific) recruiters found me from searching for people looking for jobs in social media. I had tweeted "looking for FT/PT/#freelance roles in social media" which helped them locate me. I wasn't following them, but I did meet them offline to discuss opportunities they had to offer.
Once the recruiters had found me they knew the role I was after by reading my bio and were able to tweet me links to job specs on their websites directly. You only get 160 characters for your Twitter bio, so you have to be specific. At the time my bio was "Social media bandit, 3 years experience looking for social planner/community management role." Followed by my email address and website.
Some organisations only use recruitment agencies so no matter how much you try and get their attention it will all be in vain. Recruiters are surprisingly active on Twitter (and LinkedIn) in my experience.
#FF stands for "Follow Friday" and it's a way of people recommending other profiles they feel are worth following.
I helped a friend gain some recruiters attention about a month ago by using #FF to tweet that they were looking for a job. Three recruiters from my account followed them and contacted them about roles.
Simon Caine is head of social media at a digital agency called Crab Creative. And a standup comedian. Find him on Twitter@thismademecool