A few weeks ago, I participated in the first-ever “Help a PR Pro Out” Day, or HAPPO. I volunteered to help facilitate conversation between those hiring, and those seeking employment in the Pittsburgh area via Twitter. Unfortunately, not as many companies hiring participated as I had hoped, but the real meaning behind HAPPO was to make connections and network. Some people impressed me, while some made me cringe a little bit.
I asked people to send me a “pitch” to post to my blog, and I received a few tweets from strangers merely saying “add me to your list.” OK, I’ll add you, but first who are you and WHY should I add you? Then, reading people’s tweets during the event, I read a lot of generic, non-distinct “pitches.” Granted, you only have 140 characters and this was the first time this event ever took place, but come on, people! Let’s get creative here. There are a lot of folks looking for jobs and a lot of people on Twitter…so make yourself stand out. Here are a few tips I have for the job-searching Twitter novice:
I read a lot of tweets saying, “graduating in May looking to break into the PR world.” That’s great, but who are you? Link to something that allows you to go into detail about how you would make a great addition to any PR team. Write a blog post. Don’t have a blog? Ask someone who does to let you post to his or her site. Or maybe you have a great LinkedIn profile. That’s another great tool to allow people to see your history and expertise.
Talk to others who are also job searching
Yeah, they’re competition, but they are also someone who’s in the same boat you are. Maybe they saw a job opening that wasn’t a good fit for them, but would be perfect for you. Or you can share frustrations and tips with one another and become comrades. Although I would not recommend venting for all to see. No one cares. That’s why the Twitter gods invented the direct message.
Talk to those who have the job you want to have
There are plenty of professionals on Twitter tweeting away about their jobs, hobbies, friends, sports — you name it. Start by following them and getting to know their interests. Do you both have a love for Glee? Tweet to them! But don’t just tweet something they don’t need to respond to such as “I love Glee, too.” Ask them what they thought of last night’s episode or what their favorite song has been. It’s all about engaging dialogue, not something that just sounds dull. And don’t just talk to them. Tweeting to one person all the time is recipe for Twisaster (that’s Twitter disaster in case you didn’t get that).
Don’t expect to get a job, but let it be known you want one
You heard me. You want the Twitter truth? You can handle it. Not everyone out there that you have had engaging, dynamic conversation with is going to give you a job. But that’s the beauty of networking – on and offline. Once you establish a love for Glee and tweet about it a few times, maybe send that person you’ve been talking to a direct message saying how you really like following them on Twitter and are eager to know more about their profession in the weeks to come. Tweet (not to them, but your network) about how you are looking for a job in XX, BECAUSE…but don’t make that all you tweet. People will drop you really fast. Have some variety. @aubreymondi does a great job with this. She is looking to land the next perfect job and uses Twitter as an outlet to do so. But she does so in a subtle way that makes me remember her and want to help her. I (and everyone else in her network) may not have any leads for her now, but we may in a couple of weeks or months. Or I may know someone that knows someone hiring. Chances are, if you are going to be great at networking via Twitter, people will be impressed and remember you…THEN you will get a job!
And finally, Lauren Chapman (@lcchapman), a senior at Penn State University who participated in HAPPO was able to land a great mentor from the event. Here’s Lauren’s recap in her own words:
“What I had originally thought to be a sort of online career fair turned out to be something so much more – #HAPPO allowed me the opportunity to connect with PR pros and peers from across the country and that has been invaluable for me. Weeks later, I am still seeing the benefits of my participation in the Twitter networking event.
I wasn’t entirely sure how to approach #HAPPO at first, but after a couple hours of periodically tweeting about my search for a job, I decided to take a more proactive step and ask PR pros for their advice on how to best prepare for an entry-level position. Several PR pros replied to my request, including Suzanne Basista (@sbasista) who kindly gave me her e-mail address to contact her with my questions. I followed through on that and received a reply a few days later. Suzanne offered me advice on how to approach the job search process, such as tailoring my resume to the job I’m targeting and keeping my search organized. She also summarized some of the qualities that she looks for in an entry-level candidate. Her tips and advice were so detailed and helpful – I am thankful to have had the chance to connect with her. It’s so valuable to receive insight from a seasoned professional. This would not have been possible had it not been for #HAPPO and #happopgh!”