A friend of mine recently returned from a two-year stint overseas, where his access to current technology was limited. He asked, "So, this Twitter thing -- is it a phenomenon?" After thinking about it, I realized that Twitter is beyond that stage. It's officially here to stay, or at least has outlived the possibility of simply being a passing trend.
Although Twitter began in 2006, it gained popularity in the 2008 presidential election and since continued to make news with its important role in political conflicts around the world. Somewhere along the way Twitter went from "What is it?" to "Are you on it?"
For those who don't know what Twitter is, or the stubborn who refuse to participate in peer pressure, Twitter is a microblog service. You write messages that are no more than 140 characters in length and let the world read them, all while you read theirs. If you're familiar with Facebook, it's basically like reading the Newsfeed: an endless series of pithy messages. Really, though, it can be so much more than that if you want it to be.
Why use Twitter during a job hunt?
Twitter can be overwhelming when you log on because, if you're following many people, their messages roll down the screen quickly and you can't possibly read every single one. That's also what makes Twitter perfect for a job seeker. Playing online can feel like a waste of time when all you want to do is earn a paycheck, but it can augment your search rather than distract from it.
Think about some of the key elements of a successful job search:
· Find the right company culture for you
· Research the latest news and events for any company you apply to
· Know what's happening in your industry and the job market as a whole
· Understand current technology and trends (depending on your industry)
You can use Twitter to help you achieve each of these goals. With that in mind, we put together a list of people we believe you should follow on Twitter in order to improve your job search.
6 important accounts
@AskAManager (Alison Green)
Green, a former manager, left the corporate world to do her own consulting and started the Ask a Manager blog along the way. On the blog, she answers job seekers and employee questions, dishing out secrets that few non-managers are privy to. With topics like "My friend is applying for my job and I don't want to recommend her," Green is a valuable Twitter friend to have.
Of course we include ourselves, but it's because we keep you up to date with articles and blog posts (written by us and other experts) discussing job search tips, workplace issues and employment trends.
@careerdiva (Eve Tahmincioglu)
Tahmincioglu writes a workplace column for MSNBC.com, maintains her own blog at CareerDiva.net, and even wrote a book . In other words, she's immersed in all things career, and her Twitter updates are proof. One way she also sets herself apart from other career Tweeters is by highlighting workplace issues unique to women in the workforce, which is often an issue largely ignored.
@heatherhuhman (Heather R. Huhman)
Huhman, founder and president of marketing organization Come Recommended, is an expert on hiring issues from an employer and job seeker standpoint. She links to new advice articles on her site and links to other helpful advice she comes across from other sources.
@SelenaDehne (Selena Dehne)
As a book publicist for Jist, a publisher devoted to career topics, Dehne closely follows work news and advice all over the Internet. When one of Jist's writers has an article published or she finds a helpful bit of advice from a blogger, she alerts her followers.
Longstanding newsmagazine U.S. News & World Report covers events of all sizes, but their Twitter feed does a great job of highlighting their job-related stories. Whether it's an article on salary trends or dishing out tough love on why you're not getting tired, the @usnews account is a job seeker's friend.
Other important people to follow
Companies you want to work at
Researching the companies you're applying to is an essential way to show employers that you are interested in the organization, not just the job. Follow their Twitter accounts to see what information they're publicizing and to get a feel of their culture.
Networking is essential to any job hunt because friends can often refer you to a position, and referrals are usually more valuable to a company than a résumé from a stranger. Twitter, like Facebook and LinkedIn, is an excellent way to keep in touch with friends and to let them know that you're looking for a job. Plus, it's nice to have some Twitter updates sprinkled into your newsfeed that aren't just about finding a job.
In addition to the career-focused experts listed above, you should seek out experts in the industry you're looking to work in. The leading thinkers in your field will give you insight relevant to your specific job search, and people they follow are probably also worth looking at.
Job search advice is good for everybody, but a graphic designer and lawyer can probably benefit most from following people in their respective fields.
News sites of your choice
Job searching doesn't happen in a bubble. The economy is affected by more factors than can be counted, and you should know what's going on in order to understand the job market you're searching in. Plus, current events often weave their way into interviews, so you want to be well informed.
Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz and on Twitter at @CareerBuilder. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.