The thing is, Kyle Flaherty wasn't even looking for a job. But because of one seemingly innocuous tweet, he abandoned plans for a three-month break from work and transplanted his family from Boston to Austin, Tex., to start a new career.
Mr. Flaherty, 35, was burnt out from a job at a public relations firm, had left the post and wanted a break before he started job hunting. He blogged about his situation and what he was looking for at his next job and then tweeted a link to the post, which was picked up by the 600 or so followers he had at the time, some of whom retweeted it. In just a few days, Mr. Flaherty was exchanging tweets with a woman he'd never met who worked at an Austin firm. That led to an exchange of direct messages, an in-person interview and a job offer.
Forget about Craigslist and Monster.ca - Twitter has dramatically changed the online recruitment game. A simple 140-character message can ripple beyond one's own network to reach countless others, allowing unlikely professional relationships to blossom and giving job seekers a chance to tap into the so-called hidden job market. And because Twitter is fuelled by brevity, creativity and immediacy, it also provides fertile ground for job seekers to sell themselves in innovative ways.
Reaching out during job searches in the pre-Twitter era was a different beast, Mr. Flaherty says.
"I probably would've just e-mailed someone like, 'Can you have lunch?' Maybe I had a link to a LinkedIn profile," he says, referring to the career-based social network. "The thing that Twitter allowed me to do was to get to those people more immediately. It gave me the option to give them [information] more and more quickly."
In many ways, the openness of Twitter communication worked to Mr. Flaherty's advantage. When he set up an interview in Austin, he tweeted that he was open to meeting up with other potential employers during his trip. He knew full well that the manager he was meeting would see that message and know he was shopping around, which would make him even more desirable.
While Mr. Flaherty's tale may make the Twitter game sound like a cake walk, Miriam Salpeter, who runs the job hunting advice site Keppie Careers, says job seekers shouldn't hastily open accounts to earnestly announce that they're unemployed.
"What Twitter is best for is building relationships, instead of going out there and announcing you're looking for an opportunity," she says.
This all starts with who you follow, she says. Choose mentors in your field, executives at companies you'd like to work for, and others who are also looking to expand their networks. It's not enough to be a silent lurker, she says.
"Provide information that demonstrates your expertise, is interesting about you, makes it easy for people to know what you're about," she says. "It's a good way to draw people who are interested in following you and expand your job search."
Before Toronto marketing account executive Rayanne Langdon joined Twitter, the idea of going to industry networking events terrified her.
"I didn't really know what networking was. You fear it. You don't want to meet people. You don't know anything about them before you meet them," she says.
But the self-confessed geek found comfort behind her computer screen, where she could take time to compose thoughtful messages and find out more about people before the initial in-person meeting. She took quickly to Twitter.
When she opened her account in early 2008, the first people she followed were a few industry leaders suggested by one of her communications professors. They posted useful comments and links related to the field, which Ms. Langdon began to mimic. Soon, people in the industry started to follow her, retweet her posts and send her direct messages.
Two years later, when Ms. Langdon was looking for a new job, she felt confident seeking help from three of her mentors - people with whom she had developed strong digital relationships.
One of those women - the first person to follow her on Twitter - had recently tweeted a job opening at her Toronto communications firm. She put in a good word for Ms. Langdon and soon after that, Ms. Langdon was being courted for the position, which she took up this month.
While thousands of jobs postings are tweeted each day, mining through those posts and sending @replies to recruiters with your résumé isn't enough, says Jacob Share, author of The Ultimate Twitter Job Search Guide.
"Anybody can go to Twitter search and just search for certain keywords where you can find results," he points out. "Building your Twitter profile, building a personal brand through your personal profile, that's the way that you impress people for the long term."
Given that so many employers appreciate a mastery of social media, it's helpful to show you can use Twitter in innovative ways, he says.
Chris Kahle, 31, had been laid off from a job as an ad copywriter in Vancouver when he came up with a way to use Twitter to get the attention of an ad agency in Boulder, Colo., last spring.
Mr. Kahle turned to his 100 or so Twitter followers and some carefully selected industry blogs with a bold request: He asked them to send tweets to the agency's creative directors urging them to hire him, along with a link to his blog explaining why. He offered to donate money to charity for each tweet sent. As news of his mission spread, he started racking up hundreds of new followers.
While he was accused of being no better than a spammer on some of those industry blogs, in the end, 80 people took him up on his request. The guys at the receiving end of those tweets were impressed by Mr. Kahle's strategy and hired him.
"It's not about shoehorning an existing idea into a Twitter template," Mr. Kahle says. "It's not as simple as sending a message to people saying, 'Hey, are you hiring now?' It's about using it creatively."Report Typo/Error
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