Companies use Twitter to find potential employees
Eli Hull, The Oklahoma Daily
That’s not the first robin of spring. It’s Twitter, and it allows anyone to broadcast their answers to the question, “What’s up?”
Twitter.com, a social networking Web site whose users post short messages called “tweets,” was launched in 2006. The number of users skyrocketed in 2007, and now media experts estimate that as many as 5 million people use Twitter on a regular basis.
“The way I’ve always described it is as a giant instant message conversation,” said Billy Adams, assistant director of communications for OU’s Recruitment Services. But Twitter users don’t have to wade through posts by all its millions of users. They choose the users they want to “follow,” or receive updates from.
“You choose whose posts you want to receive and people can choose to receive yours,” Adams said. “It’s almost like an old school chat room, but where you select the people who you are chatting with.”
Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters and can be updated as fast as users can type. The short messages lend themselves to the sort of mundane, moment-by-moment updates that are popular for Facebook statuses. Tweets like “Beautiful day!” and “Grrr. I hate studying...” are common. But Twitter isn’t just the domain of bored students. Businesses, universities and corporate recruiters have gotten in on the Twitter act in order to attract people to their organizations.
Sales and marketing consultant Mike Merrill said many of the corporations he works with are using Twitter to find potential employees.
“Recruiters are flocking to this medium in droves as they look to build their network,” Merrill said. “Remember, recruiters are only as good as their network.”
He said students looking to promote themselves to potential employers would do well to open Twitter accounts and follow the accounts of companies they’re interested in.
Barbara Gibson, chairwoman of the International Association of Business Communicators, said she does not check her e-mail that often, but checks her Twitter many times a day.
“If you’re not attuned to Twitter and other social media, you’re just putting yourself on the sideline,” Gibson said.
Kelsey Richerson, marketing senior, said she started using Twitter about nine months ago after reading an article about companies using the service to recruit young people. She checks and updates her Twitter a few times a day using her cell phone.
Adams agrees. He said Twitter won’t always be as dominant on the social and business networking scene as it is now, but the principles behind Twitter are here to stay.
“Do I think that Twitter will be around forever? No,” Adams said. “As we’ve seen with all new technologies, something always comes around that’s better. But what I do think has the most longevity is the idea of open communication.”
People who have no use for Twitter charge that open communication is already readily available online and Twitter doesn’t add much to the slate of social networking sites already in existence.
Liz Maute, OU alumna, has a Twitter account but said she does not use it.
“I signed up for Twitter because I thought I might use it to connect with friends,” Maute said. “But Twitter is pointless because Facebook already provides the same function through the wall. Twitter is weird because it’s not directed at a person or group.”
But Gibson said Twitter is valuable because Facebook is more directed toward finding people you already know and Twitter is directed at getting to know people better.
As with any social networking site, Twitter has its share of potential pitfalls. The constant stream of updates could be distracting to some students, dragging out study session and cutting productivity. And there’s always the risk of over-sharing on a site that’s used by friends, family and potential employers alike.
Gibson said it’s best for Twitter users to be friendly but not transparent, and to keep their comments about weekend escapades out of their tweets. She said she tells students to “be personable, but not personal.”