Tweeting for jobs in just 15 minutes a day

Twitter is one of the most innovative and useful tools for navigating the job market. Yet, it’s also the tool least understood and used by those who need it most, say the co-authors of the recently released book The Twitter Job Search Guide.

“We’re on a mission to change that,” says co-author Susan Britton Whitcomb. “Twitter can give job seekers a much-needed edge in today’s job market. It helps them uncover little-known opportunities, research employers, enhance their visibility, expand their network and much more.”

To achieve these advantages, job seekers don’t have to spend several hours a day glued to their computer or BlackBerry. All it takes is about 15 minutes a day, says Whitcomb and co-authors Chandlee Bryan and Deb Dib.

“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,” Bryan says.

In their book, the co-authors offer 10 strategies to help individuals maximize their time on the site in just 15 minutes a day. Below are five of these strategies:

1. Know what you want to accomplish and track your progress

Monitor your momentum and value. Twitter provides instant feedback: You can tell if you are reaching your intended audience from the number of @replies, direct messages (DMs) and retweets you receive.

2. Understand your limits

What’s your attention span? Should you be tweeting at work? Do you get lost surfing the web? Don’t let yourself get sidetracked dreaming of tweets while you are taking care of other things. Bookmark or star favourites online, and keep a notebook or file of topics and themes that you would like to tweet about later.

3. Find and follow people

Be selective about whom you follow. If you have too much information in your stream, you’ll miss much of it and risk being overwhelmed. Use Twitter lists or Twitter APIs to organize and review your stream by follower, topic and more.

4. Don’t retweet too much!

Don’t populate your entire Twitter stream with retweets or @replies. With too many retweets, people will think you don’t have anything to say, whereas too many conversational @replies will make people feel left out — neither of which are great impressions for a prospective hire.

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.