By: Sarah Needleman
More companies are tweeting for hires.
As online job boards have grown crowded amid the recession, many big companies, including Microsoft Corp., Verizon Communications Inc., Raytheon Corp. and Viacom Inc.’s MTV Networks, now list job openings on the Twitter microblogging site.
Jon Protas/The Wall Street JournalTwitter lets job seeksers follow feeds that list jobs from a variety of companies.For employers, Twitter—where users post updates, or “tweets,” of no more than 140 characters—offers one more way to find and attract candidates, and a cheaper alternative to big online job boards. It also helps companies target social-media-savvy job hunters and convey an innovative image. For job seekers, Twitter offers the chance to interact one-on-one with companies’ recruiters and can be more convenient than job boards.
Job hunters can sign up to follow a company’s listings on Twitter or receive tweets about jobs through a third-party service. They usually need to click a link in the tweet to access the listing online, where they can submit their résumé or application. They can also reply to the tweet with a question or comment; sometimes, employers tweet back.
With so many people looking for jobs now, some employers say they like that Twitter yields just enough job leads—but not too many. Job boards have “become saturated,” says Mike Rickheim, vice president of global talent acquisition for Newell Rubbermaid Inc., a global manufacturer based in Atlanta.
“With Twitter, we don’t have to go through that huge pile of résumés.” Mr. Rickheim says the company uses Twitter to fill positions that tend to attract tons of applicants on job boards, such as administrative roles, as well as to share company news.
(Of course, recruiters note, the more popular Twitter gets, the more applicants it will likely attract.)
People who respond to job tweets typically have social-media skills, and some employers say they use the service to target them. In March, MediaSource Inc., a video-production and publicity firm in Columbus, Ohio, advertised a media-relations specialist job only on Twitter, LinkedIn and two niche job boards, says Lisa Arledge Powell, MediaSource’s president.
“We needed someone that understood social media, so we thought, ‘Why not go to where these people go?’ ” she says.
Andrea Slesinski, who was following the company’s Twitter feed, saw the job listing and quickly tweeted her interest. She got an interview request within a week and was hired.
Image is a big part of Twitter’s appeal to employers, as using it to engage with job seekers can suggest they’re cutting-edge. “Verizon is a technology company so we need to be out there,” says Asif Zulfiqar, a talent-management specialist at the New York-based telecommunications firm, which began listing jobs on Twitter in March.
But the image issue cuts both ways, he notes, and job seekers don’t always pay enough attention to how they appear to employers on Twitter. Recently a follower of Verizon’s jobs feed tweeted to the company something along the lines of, “Hey dude, you got any jobs in California?” says Mr. Zulfiqar.
The writer’s casual tone made a poor impression, he says. “I want to see something more professional,” he says. “You want to put your best foot forward.”
Indeed, people trolling for jobs on Twitter need to tweet with care—not just when they’re interacting with employers, says Cynthia Shapiro, a former human-resources executive and career coach in Woodland Hills, Calif. Hiring managers could use information they find on Twitter, just as on Facebook, to form opinions about an applicant’s employability. People sometimes disclose personal things over Twitter, like work-family challenges, that an employer couldn’t ask about in an interview but which might color their impression if they knew. For example, if an employer sees on Twitter that a candidate is going through a messy divorce, they might “assume you’re going to be distracted,” Ms. Shapiro says.
Job seekers can do their own sleuthing on Twitter to research prospective employers. In June, Rob Totaro landed an interview for an account-manager job at Potratz Partners Advertising, a small agency in Schenectady, N.Y., after learning about the position on Twitter. In the meeting, he joked that he wasn’t sure he could work for a firm that supports the Red Sox, which he had discovered from reading tweets the company posted about a recent employee outing to a ballgame. “It was a great ice breaker,” says Mr. Totaro. He got the job.
Twitter users say the service can be more convenient than online job boards, allowing users to follow feeds that list jobs from a variety of companies rather than trolling through thousands of job-board listings. “It’s an efficient way to get a general idea of what type of jobs are out there,” says Ryan Kellett, a senior at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt.
He subscribes to about a half-dozen job feeds on Twitter. “It’s a little bit more of a chore to go on [job boards] on a daily basis,” he says. “You don’t know if there’s new content on there.”
Twitter’s interactivity also can provide a new source of advice for candidates. Subscribers to Google Inc.’s jobs feed, which went live on June 29, can pose employment questions to recruiters at the Mountain View, Calif., company, says a spokeswoman. Recently someone posted a tweet asking what job candidates should wear to interviews at Google.
A little over an hour later, a recruiter tweeted back: “We care more about your mind than your clothes,” the spokeswoman says.
Cost is a main draw for employers, many of which post jobs on their own Twitter feeds free. Some services distribute job listings for employers on Twitter for a fee, but they are generally less than the cost of posting on a big job board.
U.K.-based InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, which has U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, began listing jobs on Twitter in July through a distribution service called TweetMyJobs, which charges 99 cents to promote one position for a day. The service also offers volume discounts. Francene Taylor, a talent-acquisition technology manager for InterContinental, says the service is more affordable than most job boards and she expects it to help the hospitality company save money as more job seekers turn to the company’s Twitter feed to look for postings.
“We will see a decline in a need to use the major job boards and that will mean we won’t have to spend quite as much,” she says.
Ms. Taylor says the quality of the candidates, for all positions including room attendant and housekeeper supervisor, is the same as what comes through job boards.
But sometimes, Twitter produces enough leads that InterContinental doesn’t need to advertise the jobs elsewhere. During the last week of August, she says, 4,622 people clicked through to the company’s job-listings section from Twitter.