New technological tools are often hailed as breakthroughs that will revolutionize our daily lives. Think of the iPhone's arrival a few years ago. Many of these much-heralded items fizzle away with little notice. And then others sneak up on us.
Facebook went from a niche college site in 2004 to a somewhat essential part of online life for people all over the world today. Twitter showed up on the scene with more noise than Facebook did, but no one knew if it would take off.
For those of you unaware, Twitter is a microblogging sign that lets you post 140-character messages at a time. You can follow people's updates and they can follow yours. That's basically it. Sounds simple.
Yet, Twitter has played important roles in major events recently. The plane landing in the Hudson River was first documented via Twitter. The 2008 presidential candidates communicated with voters through the site. Last year's Iranian protests gained publicity through worldwide Twitter updates. Who would've thought something so small would be so important?
Now, people are beginning to use Twitter for more commonplace tasks -- namely, job hunts. Three authors have written a book all about finding a job through the microblogging site. Susan Britton Whitcomb, Chandlee Bryan and Deb Dib have come together to write "The Twitter Job Search Guide."
"Twitter can give job seekers a much-needed edge in today's job market," Whitcomb says. "It helps them uncover little-known opportunities, research employers, enhance their visibility, expand their network and much more."
As Bryan explains, "We like the concept of spending 15 well-planned, solidly productive minutes a day on Twitter, at least initially, because it imposes a strategy and discipline that keeps you focused on the big picture -- your job search -- rather than getting lost online. While Twitter is great way to expand your network and reach, transitioning those relationships to off-line connections is an essential element of a successful search."
According to the authors, here are five guidelines to follow in your Twitter job search:
1. Know what you want to accomplish and track your progress.
Take advantage of Twitter's real-time user interaction by monitoring your @replies, direct messages (DMs) and Retweets.
2. Understand your limits.
Don't just post -- seek out information that is valuable to you. Use the favorites option to keep track of posts you want to revisit or think about.
3. Find and follow people.
Twitter can overwhelm you if you follow too many people. Information will fall off of the newsfeed quickly. Instead, be selective about who you follow and make sure they offer information that's relevant to your goals.
4. Don't retweet too much!
If all you can offer is a retweet of other people's messages, then you probably don't need to be on Twitter. Offer your own input on topics. Plus, the authors point out, if your feed is entirely made of @replies, people will feel as if they're not welcome to your conversation.
5. Give of yourself.
"Join @jobangels and other philanthropic groups and give back when you can. Watch for opportunities to offer a tip, insight, job lead or helping hand," the authors suggest.