Social media is now a common means of communicating, doing business and supporting career search and development. But as with everything there is a huge divide between those who adopted technology early and most of the rest of us.
I was reminded on a recent family visit that there is still healthy skepticism, suspicion and confusion about social media and technology. Just like explaining how to use a Droid phone to my mother — Droid is an operating system, not a style! — we need to lay a foundation and explain how the most prevalent social media tools are being used to support a career search. And while numerous articles have been written about these tools, we’d like to provide some background and basics for those in the security cleared job seeker community.
As LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook have now been around for several years, spammers and hackers have created scams and scares. That creates further reticence for those not using social media. Add to that working in a community where posting inappropriate info about yourself may cause you to lose your job or worse, impact national security. Our job seeker community needs guidance on how to use these tools to benefit their career search. With this in mind we’ll take a look at each of these tools, explain the basics, and highlight some ways they can be used in career search.
We recommend that everyone review the Privacy settings for their LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts. These social media tools are meant to support open sharing of communication and information, so the default settings will be for open sharing. Re-check your account privacy settings on a regular basis as new features may change your previous settings.
Lastly, each of us has a responsibility to observe and report suspicious behavior and spamming in social media. Each social media platform has a mechanism to do so, as it’s in their best interest to maintain a safe and secure community.
Twitter has been around since 2006 and is built on SMS technology which is the same technology that runs your cell phone or PDA. Twitter messages or “tweets” have a 140 character limit like text messages, so many use a shorthand language when writing a tweet. Some think that texting and tweeting will ruin the English language, but that’s another discussion. Links in tweets are typically shortened too. This shortening raises concern for some folks. The same rule applies across the internet – if you don’t know the source, don’t click the link.
Twitter is a great source for up-to-date info on breaking news and industry updates such as blog post updates or informational videos just uploaded to YouTube. Most news outlets and their journalists have Twitter accounts to share news briefs. If there is a particular type of info you’re looking for, find someone prominent in your field and then look at their followers and who they are following. For example, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, @TheJointStaff.
Why Use Twitter for Your Job Search
- - To gather information on companies and their job postings
- - Expand your areas of expertise
- - Network with recruiters and other job seekers to help with your search.
How to Use Twitter in Your Job Search
There are a few ways to think about any profile on social media. Am I using this tool so people can find and connect with me? To gather information? Both?
Your Twitter profile tells others about you. If you’re in a high demand position, a recruiter might be searching Twitter for folks with your skill set, so be sure to include that info in your profile. There is a character limit so you will have to be brief, using appropriate keywords. But you’ll also want to make sure your profile is appropriate for review by a potential employer doing a background check.
As you set up your profile you will, as with all social media accounts, select if the info you broadcast is Public or Private, if you will accept any followers, or if you want to be able to approve the people that will be following you.
Most people start on Twitter as a “lurker.” You’re reading other people’s information but not necessarily sharing information yourself. To receive info, or lurk, you follow other people. To find people to follow you can search by name, but realize a person’s Twitter account name may or may not be the same as their actual name. As you follow other people their info will show up in your account feed. The more people you follow the more information you will be viewing.
Follow companies and recruiters you’re interested in to receive job postings and other updates so you are better prepared to interview. Many companies such as SAIC have one Twitter account that will share info similar to a press release, while the second account for SAIC is an automatic job posting notice any time a new job is posted on their site. Other companies such as CACI have twitter accounts associated with different categories such as DC Metro Jobs or Engineering Jobs.
How do you find these company’s twitter feeds? You can either do a search on Google such as “Lockheed Martin on Twitter” or in Twitter do a search for “Lockheed Martin.” You can also go to a company’s website and they’ll list in the Careers or Press section their Twitter account info as well as other social media links. If you meet a recruiter at a networking event or Cleared Job Fair look up their profile and follow them on Twitter. If you need help finding their Twitter account try to find them on LinkedIn. This is another way to get up-to-date info on that particular recruiter’s job postings.
While connecting on Twitter or any social media may not be something you’re interested in or feel comfortable doing, remember this: we used to all communicate via phone, fax, and now email. There are many available methods of communication and to be able to communicate with others, you have to leave those channels open, particularly in a job search.