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When Justin Rogers decided he no longer wanted to be a software engineer, he took to social media service, Twitter, to look for options. On a whim, Rogers sent a tweet to Interexchange, a company that places English speakers in teaching positions around the world, which simply said “@IEXWorkAbroad My wife and I are seriously looking into teaching English abroad. Can we connect to discuss opportunities?”

Thanks to that one message, Rogers is now teaching several courses in English, including one on business studies, in Hanoi, Vietnam. “On Twitter it seems like [companies] still care about responding,” said Rogers, who relocated to Vietnam from Texas in the US last year.

While most job seekers need more than 140 characters to land their new positions, the informal social-media platform allows users to contact recruiters and executives direct to forge new contacts and get scoops on new positions, career experts say.

Last year, 13% of companies said they used Twitter to find talent, according to a survey of 1,600 recruiters and human resources by Jobvite, a firm specialising in applicant-tracking systems.

When it comes to conducting a job search via Twitter, the medium attracts companies and executives who would rather banter back and forth than spend time typing out an email or LinkedIn message. In 2014, there were 288 million active monthly users on Twitter, up from 54 million in 2010, according to company data.

“It’s incredibly non-hierarchical,” said Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies. “You could have conversations with senior-level executives a lot more easily on Twitter than any other [social] network.” Facebook users mostly keep their networks closed, making it difficult to reach out to strangers, while many executives don’t answer LinkedIn messages, he added.

Real-time job feed
Multinational brands, including Disney (@twdcjobs), Starbucks (@starbucksjobs) and L’Oreal (@lorealgradjobs), now use specific Twitter handles to post jobs and engage potential job seekers in different regions looking to apply. For example, at consulting firm Accenture, the Twitter account for @accenture_jobs has tweets for the #joboftheday and alerts followers on days when someone from the human resources team is scheduled to appear at a job fair. From time to time, the #digitalcareerchat gives followers a behind-the-scenes look at the recruiting process.

When recruiters evaluate potential candidates for a position, a public Twitter feed can be an important way to gauge a candidate’s creativity and personality — something that wouldn’t come through in a simple CV or cover letter, Waldman said. “It’s about putting yourself out there more and really demonstrating on your Twitter feed that you are being intelligent,” Waldman said. “It’s about showing your personality.”

Ways to stand out
When you set up an account you will need to create a profile and biography. For your profile, use a photo that’s tightly cropped from your head to your shoulders, which can be easier for fellow Twitter users to recognise and remember, Waldman said.

Create a bio that’s both professional and playful. Mixing career-related interests with hobbies outside of work can help you create a more memorable profile. While engaging the company is a good idea, be aware that there is still a line you shouldn’t cross. “In some cases, tweeting that you applied for a job will disqualify you,” he warned.

Rather, it’s important to mention that you’d be excited to work there or show your interest in a more casual way, but stay away from asking about your application or telling them you’ve officially completed one in a public forum such as Twitter. Corporate applications typically ask candidates applying for a job to abide by the company’s privacy policies as soon as they apply for employment and many privacy policies limit what employees can say about their employers online. Instead, use the direct message option or even LinkedIn to send a private message when speaking about a specific position to a recruiter, he added.

Although candidates should remember these messaging systems are not as secure as email.

In the zone
To home in on the right jobs, use Twitter’s search page (twitter.com/search-home) to find tweets with hashtags such as #career, #hire, #jobs and #hiring. For more precise positions putting in search terms such as #techjobs or #accountingjobs along with a location hashtag can yield more specific results. Twitter platforms such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck can make it simple to schedule tweets or retain keyword searches that you can scroll through daily for new tweets.

When you find one you are interested in, craft your Tweet carefully. Avoid Tweets that can make you sound desperate to connect early on such as asking for an email address, said Waldman. It can be difficult to write a Tweet in so little space, so take time to proofread. Use photos or articles to link to content that’s not readily seen in another person’s feed. Stay away from sharing your views on potentially polarising topics such as religion or politics, which can alienate others with opposite views.

Building connections
But it’s not all about seeking out job openings; simply talking on Twitter can result in valuable connections to senior employees from a dream firm. Stay proactive but approach executives slowly via Twitter, said Colin Sloman, London-based managing director at consulting firm Accenture, who regularly meets candidates after an initial introduction via the social network. After weeks of connecting publicly via Twitter “the goal is to connect with [executives] directly,” he said.

When befriending another Twitter user, start by pressing favourite on a comment or re-tweeting one of their tweets to appear on your Twitter feed rather than speaking to them directly. “Approach them gently,” he said. In a few days comment on one of their tweets and engage them in an online conversation. For example, alerting them to a relevant news article or industry development can help you build rapport.

Observing the user’s tweets, conversation or tracking who that Twitter user follows can give you an idea for potential topics to cover. Once the Twitter user is engaged in conversation, Accenture’s Sloman tells candidates that it’s a good time to ask to connect via LinkedIn and then follow-up with an email.

Another approach is to ask executives via a direct message for their email address before reaching out outside of Twitter, said Waldman. “You should formally get permission to email them,” said Waldman who adds that it can take one to two weeks to develop an acquaintance over the social network.

Last year, Hayley Smith, a London-based publicist used Twitter to develop a relationship with Gossimar Wings, a Glasgow-based jewelry company that has since become her client. In order to tailor her pitch, she studied the account’s followers, tweets and retweets. “I started to understand and learn about the brand without being intrusive,” Smith said.

When writing her Tweets, she focused on the brand’s celebrity following and participating in conversations about Glasgow to show that she understood both the local community and the brand’s celebrity-focused culture. Within months, Smith was able to connect with the company’s creative director via email and flew to Glasgow in order to speak about her public relations strategy. She was offered the account on the spot. Twitter “allowed me to draw attention to myself and create the conversation,” she said.

(BBC Capital)