Using Twitter to Find a Job
Sure, you may have heard of Twitter, the micro-blogging site that was all over the media this spring. Now that the buzz has died down a bit—maybe you were one of Ashton Kutcher‘s almost 2 million followers, then realized that you didn’t need to get updates about him being on lunch break—you may be wondering if there is any reason to stay/become a Twitterer.
Brett Kopf, a senior graduating in December 2009 and self-described social media fanatic, explains how he used Twitter (and other digital tools) to help his friend land an internship. Oh, he landed one himself in the process, too.
Kevin: Hi, this is Kevin Donlin from the Guerrilla Job Search. I’m on the phone with Brett Kopf, a very smart senior at Michigan State. I assume you’re a senior, Brett?
Brett: I am a senior, yes.
K: Excellent. So Brett, welcome. Thanks for joining me today.
B: Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.
K: You’re welcome. Brett has an interesting story about using Twitter as a job search tool. Let me read back the email you sent to me Brett, kind of jog your memory. Then I’ll have a few questions for how this works because it was really fascinating. People are always looking for Twitter success stories and here’s one. You said: A month ago a friend and you were talking about her inability to find an internship; she is extremely well qualified but couldn’t find anything. So I posted this on my Twitter feed and I quote “Anyone hiring for a PR Internship? I know a well-qualified candidate who is on the hunt. DM, please.” (DM for direct message I believe.) And then your email continued, “I kid you not, in 2 minutes I had a reply from one of my followers. A few interviews later she has a great job.” So this is a great story, Brett. Kudos to the success. Could you describe when was it exactly…right now we are in late April 2009…it was March that you did this?
B: Yes, it was sometime around mid-March. To tell you the truth, Kevin, this really benefits me because [in] the job that she has, she is now going to be my co-worker, because I had already established a relationship with this follower. I was going to tell you and your readers the importance of networking online and job searching is to have relationships. This person from the company and I had already been speaking on Twitter and via email. We already had a relationship, he knew me. He knew that I was a credentialed contact and that I was legitimate. When I posted that, within 2 minutes he saw that and said, “I know this guy, let’s see what he has to say.” Now I’m working alongside with her. We both decided to take a similar position. So we’re working hand-in-hand.
K: So this is a summer internship that you both have?
B: Yes, it’s actually more than a summer internship, it’s a 6-month internship. My position is as the community manager. I’m basically a social media fanatic and this community manager role, you’ll probably hear a lot of buzz words around it. Basically, their sole role is to build a community and handle all the social media content going around in the business. Anything with Facebook, Twitter, and information going online, that will go through me. Christine’s role is as the PR intern, PR and marketing.
K: So the person who replied is your manager at FYIndout.com?
B: Yes. She replied. I tweeted that and said “direct message please.” When I said I kid you not, it literally took two minutes. She was like, “Hey we’re looking for an internship in PR as well, could you please forward her information on to me?” So I did that and, like I said, a few interviews later we’re working together.
K: That’s fantastic. You have, at last count, about 567 followers. At this time about a month ago, how many do you think you had on Twitter?
B: The low 200s. When I first got started, you evolve this buzz from your friends and family. Twitter this, Twitter that. What is it and why is everyone talking about it? So, Twitter is micro-blogging and allows you to connect with people who have similar interests. And when I explain it to people, there are two ways to use it. You can number one say, “Hi, I’m going out for a walk or drinking a glass of water.” “I don’t feel like taking this exam today.” To be honest with you, Kevin, I don’ really care about that if it’s not for business.
B: Number two, and this is why it’s so effective: you can use it to function and cycle in the areas that you’re interested in. So for you as an example, you’re interested in career search and recruiting and you could follow literally the thousands, millions of people who are on Twitter and have the same interests and goals as you. This allows you to get real-time updates and information on new job search techniques on people that are hiring, just like my situation with Christine on great information.
K: So you’ve been building a network, you’ve been following and been followed by people in PR and social media, is that correct?
B: That is exactly right. That’s what I love. I love social media and technology and I’m into this whole recruiting thing. Primarily, a majority of my followers and the people that I follow are in CEO positions, consultant positions, managerial positions. And the cool thing is I’m just a senior at Michigan State. I’m just a student, right? Maybe not right. I have some validity here and what’s cool for me is I can now get into the minds of the people at these elite levels and see what they’re thinking. What are they talking about? What a great learning experience for me as a young student wanting to break into the quote unquote business world.
K: You actually are in the business world. You’re in the mind of the person who is micro-blogging because you’re seeing what they say when they say it. It’s real time. As we’ve just discussed here, it helped your friend get an internship because you got directly into the mind of the hiring authority. Now this is interesting. I hadn’t thought of this tip. I counsel folks on the key to the job is to get into the minds of the hiring manager before they advertise the position to the outside world. And at that point you have no competition and this is what you did. You got into the mind of the hiring manager with your tweet and *bam* Christine was interviewed and hired. Now, off the top of your head, do you know if she had any competition for that? Did they interview other people or was it just her?
B: There was competition. We both had competition. She was just another candidate. The whole idea…I heard you speak before, and what you consistently tell us about networking is that it is about building relationships. It’s not how well can I get a job. It’s about building relationships and how can I help you. I already had that relationship built with her boss right now. So he trusted me. The same thing across all platforms, whether it be social media, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…human connection is about building relationships and how you can help the other person.
K: Yes. While Christine may have had competition, quote unquote from other people interviewing, she had an edge because she came recommended by you and you weren’t just anybody. You had built up some value with your relationships, especially with the hiring manager.
B: Yes, with the hiring manager. Christine, as well. We worked together on a lot of school projects and when I said I had a very well-qualified candidate, I meant it. She is extremely well-qualified. I feel lucky to be working with her.
K: That’s terrific. You know hiring managers don’t want to make a mistake, so that’s why the value of your recommendation is so very important. Because the manager trusted you and figured, “If Brett recommends her, I’m going to talk to her.” It all came together. I think Twitter was the efficient cause, the formal cause. As Aristotle would say, the Twitter is what made it happen. But really you’ve done a lot of work in the background to build the value and it worked. Terrific points, Brett. Do you have any final ideas? Briefly, what makes you follow somebody? You’ve doubled your follow ship, your tweeter ship. You know you went from the 200′s to 567 in about a month. That’s pretty much a geometric progression there. It’s exploding. What do you think attracts people to want to become a follower of someone on Twitter?
B: I think two things. Being genuine and being real. What exactly does that mean? The people that I follow when you see the people who have followers of 20, 30, 50 thousand people, they’re either a person like Oprah and she probably has millions— good for her—there’s someone that has a quite bit of knowledge. But what I find is that they always have something that is real. Meaning they say, “I love dogs; I have a wife and 2 kids that I adore. I love to go mountain biking.” Something that’s real. So you always have something that is genuine and they also talk about what they’re into. My example: I’m into social media, technology, blogging, Twittering, etc. And something after that about I’m passionate about mountain biking or I love being in the outdoors. I’m not just saying that to say it, it’s not fake. It’s true: I love being in the outdoors.
K: That’s exactly right. It’s important stuff to give personal insights into yourself and not just be a face. Some people do come across that way on Twitter, I’ve noticed. The profile should be genuine, should be real and it’s all good advice. And obviously it worked for you, Brett, and for your friend, Christine. I want to thank you very much for your time, Brett Kopf, with a Twitter success story.
B: No problem. Thanks for having me, Kevin.
K: You’re welcome. Thank you.
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