Eight Simple Ways to Use Twitter to Enhance Your Career in HR…

by Alan Collins

If you want to enhance your HR career, and you’re not using Twitter, then it’s time for you to get with the program.

Twitter can be a terrific career tool…BUT only if you use it the right way.  If you use it improperly, it can be a huge time waster.

When I first opened my twitter account, I was swamped with hundreds of “direct messages” on Twitter in addition to all the emails that hit my in-box every week.

It was like drinking from a fire hose.  I was blowing a lot of my time filtering through information from hundreds of people that I didn’t care about. Now, let me clarify.  I don’t mean to say I didn’t care about these people.  I mean I didn’t care to see every ‘update’ that they were taking their kids to soccer practice, or how their dog just puked on their rug, or that they were excited that their spouse was finally taking them out on a “date night.”

It was exposing me, at least in my opinion, to entirely too much info about people’s lives…and TOO MUCH NOISE and CLUTTER. After spending a few days figuring out how I really wanted to use this tool, I’m now 100 times more effective on Twitter.

It now doesn’t take away from my life and HR career.  It adds to it.

If you have an HR day job to do, you really don’t have a ton of time to piss away “tweeting” without a purpose.  So, with that in mind, here are the 8 embarrassingly simple ways I’ve discovered for using Twitter to enhance your HR career:

1.  Use twitter to grow your HR network, not collect followers.

I gathered 3000+ followers in my first few months on Twitter.  It wasn’t very hard.  However, one thing I learned from this experience is that collecting numbers means absolutely nothing! So I stopped focusing on building up my twitter count.

Why?  Because I discovered that you only need to connect with people who matter to you and with whom you genuinely want to build relationships with.  The rest don’t matter.

Many people get sucked into the “Twitter trap” of trying to building a ton of followers.   And Twitter makes this easy to do.  Unlike LinkedIn and Facebook, where you send a friend request and wait for the other person to accept, on Twitter you can chose to “follow” just about anyone you want.

Want to follow Shaq, Lady Gaga or George Clooney?  No problem.   And the majority of those you follow (except those three) will generally follow you back.   So, if you do this over and over, before you know it, you’ve created thousands of followers.  Piece of cake.

But, you and I both know you’re not “really” interested in knowing what 3000+ different people are doing at any time in a given day, right?  (Ok, I’ll confess to checking out Lady Gaga’s tweets from time to time).  But, truthfully, you’re only interested in a handful of folks.

So follow just that handful and un-follow (or if you’re like me, simply ignore) the rest.  Doing this will keep twitter from distracting you from your HR day job and becoming a time sink.

Concentrate instead on finding relevant people to follow.  People who matter to you and who you want to genuinely want to establish meaningful relationships with.  Consider twitter similar to a “first handshake” at a networking event or cocktail party.  It’s where you can meet and make initial connections to new people.  And then set the stage for the REAL networking – the relationship building part – that happens only after you make that initial contact.

This can occur through email exchanges and dare I say, in person.  That means stepping up your relationship-building game after connecting through tweets.

Who should you follow? First of all, follow me (because I’m terrific).  Then make sure you follow all the experts, thought leaders and trendsetters in HR.  I don’t follow too many of my personal friends, but I do follow a TON of the top HR people who help keep me up to date on the latest and greatest in HR.  A list of 100 prominent HR folks you should consider following can be found here.

When you follow HR industry leaders, you’ll know who spends time with them, what conferences they attend (and what they think of the speakers!), what they’re reading and what is on their minds. They provide fantastic resource links, tips, quotes, etc… so you’ll always be learning something new.

If you want to deepen your relationship with them, ask them questions. Get to know them.  After responding directly to their tweets a few times, they are likely to follow and respond to you back, exposing you to their highly valuable contacts.

2.  Use twitter to gain credibility and build your HR brand.

Twitter is all about sharing information with people who are important to you.  Put out interesting, relevant info for your followers.  Try posting inspirational quotes or helpful HR tips.  Provide links to interesting, relevant HR articles that will help them.

In many ways, this is like having your own mini-blog…and is therefore an excellent way to attract more followers and establish yourself as an authority in your specialty within HR. For example at @successinhr, I post tweets aimed at helping HR folks become more successful in their HR careers  – based on articles I’ve written or those by others.

Another example of someone you should check out is Dan Schawbel. He is a master of using his Twitter account to share informative tweets about branding yourself as an expert and is someone you should emulate. If followers find your tweets interesting, they can re-tweet your posts by sending them  out to their followers who may in turn decide to follow you.

Caution: don’t tweet crap.  Most people don’t care what you had for lunch.  They don’t give a rip about your cat.  They are interested in tweets that yield a positive impact on their day.   So, focus on quality over quantity.

3.   Use twitter to help you land your next HR job.

If you’ve provided great information and have proven yourself as a thoughtful, intelligent person, your followers will be happy to extend a helping hand.  A few re-tweets brings your profile a long way.

Start to post questions about your job search. Something like, “Looking for new ways to connect with HR generalists in the Chicago area. Any suggestions?” Be sure to direct message a thank you to anyone who replies.

Once you build a strong network of “meaningful” followers, you will be surprised at the opportunities that twitter can bring.  Job boards on twitter are becoming increasingly effective. Use twitter search to look for job openings that were posted. Type in relevant keywords like your job title or desired position. Follow twitter accounts that post job listings in HR specialty. There is no quicker platform to browse for job listings.

More and more companies are posting their HR job listings online – especially those looking for social media-savvy HR pros. You can do this in 2 ways:

In reality, these are the same tactics used in traditional job hunting, just magnified.

4.  Use twitter to reinforce your professional HR image.

Many recruiters and hiring managers watch Twitter closely. You want to be sure your participation is professional in content, because anything that is in poor taste can rule you out, just as a consistently professional brand can rule you in.   Here’s how you do that:

5.  Want to LOSE  your HR job?  Well, twitter can help you do that too.

How?  It’s easy.  Just start tweeting dumb stuff.

For example: a potential Cisco applicant tweeted: “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”  Tim Levad, a recruiter at Cisco saw the Tweet, and tweeted back:  “Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.” This went viral overnight, was embarrassing to the job seeker and cost her the job.  Stupid.

Needless to say, if you are searching for a job or even just hoping to keep the job you have you should be very careful what tweet.  Four out of five recruiters regularly run web searches to screen job applicants   One recruiter I recently spoke to says that she went as far as to set up rss feeds by certain keywords to facilitate the candidate screening process. Even casually hinting that you really hate your job, a client, a boss or your colleagues on twitter is a real no-no, and won’t make you an attractive candidate for employers in the future.

6.  Get the skinny on your company or the one you’re looking to join.

The Twitter Search bar is an amazing research tool to see what people are saying about organizations.  For example, doing a search on twitter for “Boeing” or “IBM” can give you an insightful glimpse into their culture, their products, potential jobs and the people that work there.

7.  Stay updated on HR conferences and news briefings.

The national SHRM conference and several major HR tech events were covered by Twitter to inform event participants and latest event happenings and changes.

This is a hassle-free way of disseminating information, especially when you don’t have the means to set up a direct mobile link between you and the audience.  Or if you want to find out what’s going on at these conferences or what people are saying about the latest HR trend, labor law or talent management platform, use the twitter search bar.

It’s one of the quickest ways you can find for taking the pulse of HR folks on a specific issue.

8.  Use twitter to help you find people to hire.

Need a good engineer, marketer, or compensation specialist? Send out a tweet asking for recommendations. This is a very quick and easy way to get leads on freelancers, part-timers, and even full-timers based on familiar recommendations.

A recruiter friend of mine, was looking for a chemical engineer.  She got back 12 emails in 90 minutes from different sources on Twitter – some she knew, some she didn’t.  It’s a great place to find folks to help with things. Another buddy of mine once helped a friend out of a bind when he got stuck at an airport, strictly by Twitter. In a nutshell Twitter is a solid addition for your HR career toolbox, but only if you use it the right way.

It allows you to share information in 140 characters or less, build your HR brand, find out what’s going on in the rest of the HR world, job hunt and do research.  Not too shabby.

How have you used Twitter?  Share your thoughts, comments or any different perspectives by clicking HERE.

About the author:  Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR and the author of the HR best seller, UNWRITTEN HR RULES. He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.

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16 Responses to “Eight Simple Ways to Use Twitter to Enhance Your Career in HR…”

  1. Peter Lanc Says:

    Great post with lots of valuable tips! Thanks

  2. Bert Goos Says:

    Thank you for your great content. You are an example for many others in the HR field in showing your authority and HR brand.

  3. Charles van Heerden Says:

    Hi Alan, relevant post and certainly agree that Twitter is another great way to build your personal brand. Having moved from a HR Director role to my current position as Social Media & Marketing Director, I believe it is all my authentic engagement with your contacts.

    HRCharles (Twitter)

  4. Gail Sanderson Says:

    I am wading through the clutter of social media and have stuck GOLD in Success in HR. Thanks for sheading some sense on using Twitter. I am inspired!

  5. Love Vieira Says:

    This is really helpful. Thanks for sharing your sage advice!

  6. Titus Raju Says:

    Hey Alan, beautiful piece of advice..
    Till now i could never make sense of people sending out tweets of every min of their lives, like another “facebook”, but now, twitter makes more sense once i’ve cleared out the clutter.

  7. Sayma Says:

    Thank you Alan for this very helpful post!

  8. Prasad Says:

    Thank you very much Alan

  9. 40 Most Important Social Media Tips for HR Professionals | OnlineMBA Says:

    […] Use Twitter like LinkedIn, not Facebook: Collecting thousands of random followers like trophies doesn’t do much for you, just as having a thousand Facebook friends is nice but not super helpful. If, on the other hand, you cultivate fellow HR professionals as followers by tweeting on HR topics, then you’re helping your career. […]

  10. 40 Most Important Social Media Tips for HR Professionals | Social Paygate Blog Says:

    […] Use Twitter like LinkedIn, not Facebook: Collecting thousands of pointless supporters like trophies doesn’t do most for you, only as carrying a thousand Facebook friends is good though not super helpful. If, on a other hand, we favour associate HR professionals as supporters by tweeting on HR topics, afterwards you’re assisting your career. […]

  11. Jerry Miller Says:

    Alan, great post! Thank you.

  12. Atul Chugh Says:

    Awesome ! Your article is so intuitive and meaningful. Thanks !!!

  13. Jayne Kangwa Says:

    Great article! It will definitely help me weed out what I do not need and keep only what will add value to my professional life.

  14. Diana Says:

    Thank you Alan, as always you inspire us, HR-s, towards pursuing useful tracks and facing any challenge on the way!

  15. Lili Goncalves Says:

    Alan, I thoroughly enjoy your posts. You are an inspiration to me. Thank you!!

  16. Mawa Samuel Says:

    Great article again Alan, thank you for sharing.