How to recruit effectively using Twitter

I have been successfully using Twitter for business development and recruiting since 2008. Earlier this year, I led a track at TRU London 3, the recruiting conference, on sourcing with Twitter, and this is a synopsis of the key points.

Although I use Twitter for recruiting regularly, I do not feel that Twitter is a very good candidate database.  Sourcing candidates from their bio information on Twitter is only marginally effective because there are just 160 characters in a Twitter bio.  There is often useful location data, and sometimes links to more information about the user.  But there are far more effective places to source from bio information, like LinkedIn.

However, if you monitor the tweet stream for keywords that fit your niche, you can increase your chances of connecting with the right candidates.  It is important to grow a sizable, targeted network based on keyword searching from bio and tweet stream so that you have large enough community to generate referrals for you -after you contribute to your community and build relationships on Twitter.

And you can actually build relationships on Twitter much more quickly than practically anywhere else online.  So another good idea is to search Linkedin for users with the skills you seek who also have Twitter accounts listed in their bios.  Go network with them on Twitter before asking them to join your network on LinkedIn.  You’ll find the reception is much better and quicker.  I made a video about this technique at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= IGWdLxk9MU

How do you find Linkedin users with Twitter accounts?  Google is a fine place to start.  An example Google search string to find LinkedIn users with Twitter accounts is site:linkedin.com twitter “project manager at” “greater atlanta area” “public profile powered by”.  You can find more great examples and ideas for search strings on Glen Cathey’s Boolean Black Belt blog.

If you want to search Twitter directly, there are several options.  For searching bio information, a good tool is  FollowerWonk.com. You will find additional tools in the Twitter for Sourcing and Recruiting group on LinkedIn.

To search the tweet stream for keywords, you can use many tools for this as well.  The one I use most often is Tweetdeck. Start following and interacting with people who tweet your keywords, even if they are recruiters.  They idea is to build a community of followers who are interested in your niche and can refer candidates to you when you have a need. 

The key to recruiting on Twitter is to build a large network of targeted users that you can call to action when needed.  Remember that even if you have 500 followers, many of those will not be online when you post your opening.  And those who are online may be turned off if all you do is post open job requirements.  So be sure to post a good mix of helpful content related to your niche, and a bit of personal fun to keep you from appearing to be a robot.  Then post your openings occasionally for the best results.

A recent report from eMarketer, published in Mashable.com, shows that, while nearly half of Americans use Facebook, only 7% use Twitter.  I would guess that number is slightly lower in the UK.  But those who are actively using Twitter are highly engaged, and are, for the most part, early adopters.  These are the people who I like to recruit or have in my referral network. 

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