How I Made 3 Hires with Twitter in 6 Weeks

Posted by | August 24, 2009 | Twitter | 19 Comments

Megan_Hopkins_Loves_TwitterArticle by Megan Hopkins

Let’s get one thing out in the open very quickly. I’m a very stubborn person and I like to learn things on my own…even if it is painfully obvious to others.

Confessions of a Twitter Hater…

My relationship with Twitter started out very slowly and much like my relationship with my ex-husband – I was not a fan. At all. In fact, whenever Twitter was mentioned around me I cringed (much like I do when I hear “Steve Jobs” or “Apple”) and immediately tuned out.  You see, not only am I stubborn, I am also all knowing…just ask my parents…and I am NEVER wrong.  Ok, so to be fair, “never” is a bit of a stretch… In any event, I associated Twitter with all things stupid that did not catch my fancy (though I’m sure Ashton Kutcher is a very nice person) and I preferred to stick to my tried and true recruiting ways.  Experimentation is not my thing. 

After what seemed to be the one hundredth Twitter argument (that I won), I was forwarded an article in the Orlando Sentinel about a local girl that got laid off and used Twitter to notify the masses that she was back on the market.  Within a week or so, Brittany Ward’s tweets had gained so much attention that an unlikely suitor came calling and wanted to do a featured story on her and her love of Twitter and social media.  Apparently the Orlando Sentinel needed to cover something other than Orlando crime (and Ashton Kutcher was unavailable) and Brittany Ward seemed to be just the ticket. This was her defining moment and she was catapulted into Orlando stardom.  Rumor has it that she is set to be on this season’s Dancing With the Stars, but TMZ has yet to confirm or deny.

I was intrigued (and I was stalling a few recruiting calls…naughty, I know) so I decided to read this fine piece of literary work.  I was instantly impressed by Brittany and her creative use of Twitter to get her name out in a challenging economy.  After I read the article, I called a friend and mentioned to him that I know a girl that would be great fit for his company.  I emailed him Brittany’s resume and within two weeks, he had extended her an offer and she accepted (and she LOVES her now job, thankyouverymuch!).

This got my wheels turning. I thought if Twitter could facilitate a placement with a perfect stranger so easily, there had to be some way I could leverage it to improve the way I recruit.

My little pea sized brain was on to something!

From Twitter Hater to Twitter Lover

I immediately set up an account and got to work building my Twitter network. Apparently it seemed that the majority of my IT contacts were on Twitter (what a shocker…like I said, I’m only right most of the time) and they were gracious enough to welcome me, @OrlandoTechNuts, into their Twitter inner circles.  I also started to ask all of my new candidates when making recruiting calls if they were on Twitter.

I think at first this caught them off guard (they weren’t too jazzed about giving a recruiter one more way to stalk them), but when they realized they were dealing with the world’s biggest geek (I’ve got the certifications to prove it) they lightened up.  Eventually I had about twenty followers and I thought I was big timing it.  I’m proud to say now I have over 200. Woot! Woot! Learning the Twitter lingo proved to be somewhat of a challenge for me but as soon as I got the hang of that, I was ready to rock…or Tweet.

Now it was time to start Tweeting…and hopefully, in the process, recruiting.

Twitter Hire #1

I posted my first requirement for a .Net developer and (I’d have to check my Twitter diary to be certain…and yes, I kept one…stop laughing.  No, seriously.  Stop.) waited for any sign of life on the other end.  It seemed like 17 minutes went by (again, that’s in the diary) and then finally, someone RT’d (“retweeted” for all you newbies) my Tweet.  “Holy crap!,” I thought, “This is working.”

Eventually, I had several people retweeting my post that day and by the end of the day, I had five referrals, three interviews, and…wouldn’t you know it…a placement…with a great .Net talent I never would have known otherwise.  This is when I started to really believe in the power of Twitter.  The fact that this candidate saw my Tweet because someone I didn’t know reposted it blew my mind.  I was addicted.  So addicted now, in fact, that even as I write this blog post, I am Tweeting about it…well, that and how my dog smells like corn chips.

Twitter Hire #2

My second placement happened much like the first one.  I had a position come in that I was on the fence about – partially because I was slammed…and partially because I’m a dev-loving snob (this position was infrastructure…ick!). In any event, I updated my Twitter followers on my newest need and it got retweeted several times.  I’ve found it helps to ask for a Tweet to be retweeted but more on this in a second.  This was position was slower to fill (it was a “purple squirrel”) but about a week or so after I posted it, I got a message from a candidate (and now Kforce contractor) that was interested.

It seemed he had just been laid off unexpectedly and was now on the market…and was just the purple squirrel I thought I’d never (ever, ever) find. He emailed me his resume and within four hours we had him driving up to Jacksonville from South Florida to interview face to face.  He received an offer a day later and he started work the following Wednesday.  This was a particular success for me because he was an out of area candidate that I would have never met otherwise, he was one of very few that had his skill set, and it was a perfect match with a brand new client (that coincidentally, came from a Twitter lead). @OrlandoTechNuts was feeling pretty darn good about herself at this point.

Twitter Hire #3

My most recent placement is the one that gets me most excited.  I had been recruiting (or stalking) this candidate for about a month (at least!).  He was absolutely dead on for a position I was working on (again with a new client) and for some crazy reason, he would not answer his phone, and he would not return my hundreds of voicemails and emails.  I briefly contemplated showing up at his house but I was advised against it (seriously…or not). I had just about given up on this candidate (apparently he was too good for me) when I got a direct message on Twitter about a job I had tweeted.

My contact had a friend that was looking and was looking for a reputable recruiter to work with and he saw the RT of my position.  He was interested. Well, wouldn’t you know if that the candidate that was interested was the very same candidate that I had been chasing down and losing sleep over (yes, I get very involved in my job).  Looks like @OrlandoTechNuts now had the upper hand.  For a moment, I thought about acting like I was a jilted ex-girlfriend and not calling him back…but, I am a recruiter.  We’ll always call back.  Long story short, he FINALLY answered his phone when I called and we got him a job (and a great one!) within two weeks.

Twitter Hire #4 is in the Works!

Stay tuned!  I’m very close to getting my fourth Twitter hire in the next week.  Assuming our client doesn’t go MIA (again…gotta love that, right recruiters?), I should have another great dev talent working very soon.  Like the others, this was a guy that I had never met, nor probably would ever meet, because he is a passive channel candidate and not on the boards…and frankly, he wasn’t too keen on recruiters (until @OrlandoTechNuts got to him, that is!).

Following the right people (and having the right people follow you) along with tweeting relevant information is a great way to build your credibility and it can effectively separate you from the hundreds of other recruiters out there – that is what really helped move this potential hire along.

How to Use Twitter in Recruiting

I look back now and kick myself for not being open to Twitter sooner.  It took a while to get Kforce onboard and unblock it for me but once I got going, I was not going to stop. Twitter has become such an integral part of my every day life (even outside of work) and I’m not sure what I’d do or how I’d effectively recruit without it at this point.  Sure, I’d manage (after all, David Dunkel didn’t have Twitter and somehow he managed to do ok), but I would not be able to touch nearly as many people and connect with my community as deeply as I have.

Your use of Twitter needs to be approached like any other aspect of recruiting or sales. It is a long term investment and you really have to care to grow and develop your relationships. One of the most common concerns I hear from candidates is that recruiters seem to be all about instant gratification.  They tend to view talent as a commodity and lose sight of the fact that they are working with people. The relationship is not important and there is a strong need to take your “kill” back to the den as quickly as possible.

If you go into it (it being Twitter, in this case) thinking, “What am I going to get out of this and how soon?” you might as well stop now.  Chances are you aren’t going to walk away with an immediate “reward”.  I think the majority of my success has stemmed from actually caring about the connections I make and what is going on in my (IT) community.

I try my best to contribute daily (and this time I’m not referring to my Tweets about my smelly dog) and demonstrate that I am very much invested in my community. It never hurts to be engaging.  Ask questions, respond to Tweets that interest you, and basically, take an active interest in what your fellow Twitter folk are doing. It has to be more than just posting a job opening you have.  It never hurts to RT other people’s Tweets, either.  That goes a long way.

Now, when you do decide to Tweet your positions, make sure those Tweets count.  Make sure you don’t use all 140 characters (that is a pain to RT…and I learned that the hard way in the beginning) and if you want others to RT your positions, ask for it.  I always do and people are more than willing to oblige.

Of course there is also the risk that Twitter can drain all of your time, but so far, even though I heavily rely on it, that really hasn’t been an issue.  I do keep it up all day at work…and on my phone…but I check it once an hour or so to see if there is anything relevant I can comment on (or occasionally heckle some of my dev friends) and then I post something as I feel like it.  I’d say if you added up the collective amount of time I spend tweeting, it is around an hour or so per day.  Considering that I’m a full time recruiter who works about 60+ hours a week, that’s a relatively small investment and the rewards have been huge…plus you make some pretty interesting friends along the way.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, I really don’t think there is just one way to leverage Twitter successfully. My experience was very much trial and error and so far, I’ve managed pretty well (other than making a few rookie errors).  Like anything, stick to the basics. Remember that relationships are king and you can’t make a withdrawal if you never make a deposit. If you keep this in mind as you Tweet, I promise you will be right on track to make 3 hires in 6 weeks using Twitter too. Trust me. After all, I am always (almost) right.

About the Author

Megan_HopkinsMegan Hopkins is a the Head of Recruiting & Employee Culture at VigLink. At the time of this post, she was working as a senior technical recruiter for Kforce in Orlando and specialized in recruiting .Net developers and was very active in the Microsoft development community, regularly attending events such as Orlando.Net User Group and the Tampa ASP.Net MVC Developer User Group at Microsoft – she was also the exclusive sponsor of these groups and several more.  As you can probably tell, Megan is a passionate Twitter evangelist (follow her at @TechMegan) and social recruiter. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn  – she’ll be happy to accept your invite!

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About Glen Cathey

Glen Cathey is a sourcing and recruiting thought leader with over 16 years of experience working in large staffing agency and global RPO environments (>1,000 recruiters and nearly 100,000 hires annually). Starting out his career as a top producing recruiter, he quickly advanced into senior management roles and now currently serves as the SVP of Strategic Talent Acquisition and Innovation for Kforce, working out of their renowned National Recruiting Center with over 300 recruiters. Often requested to speak on sourcing and recruiting best practices, trends and strategies, Glen has traveled internationally to present at many talent acquisition conferences (5X LinkedIn Talent Connect - U.S. '10, '11, '12, Toronto '12, London '12, 2X Australasian Talent Conference - Sydney & Melbourne '11, '12, 6X SourceCon, 2X TruLondon, 2X HCI) and is regularly requested to present to companies (e.g., PwC, Deloitte, Intel, Booz Allen Hamilton, Citigroup, etc.). This blog is his personal passion and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone other than himself.

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Boolean Black Belt

    Megan,
    Thank you for sharing your experience and insights with regard to using Twitter to recruit!

    My key takeways:

    Quality is more important than quantity. I noticed that you follow just over 200 people on Twitter. Many people feel that you need to follow 1000’s of people to get an ROI, and you’ve proved that is simply not true.

    Who you follow and who follows you back are absolutely critical, as is the quality of the connections you make with those people.

    You benefit from the fact that your target audience is using Twitter. If your target audience isn’t on Twitter, don’t expect Twitter to yield similar results.

    There’s nothing magical about social media and social networking – it’s really just another method of building and maintaining relationships with candidates and networking. Social media is simply a point on the candidate interaction triangle: phone, in-person, online. Use all three well, and in conjunction, and you will get results.

    You engage in your candidate community in-person (sponsoring user groups, attending events, etc.) and on the phone, and you make sure to extend interactions to social media where possible and applicable.

    You don’t have to spend a lot of time on Twitter to get results.

    Thank you again for sharing – I wish you many more Twitter hires! Please keep us posted!

  • http://jobshouts.com Robin Eads

    Megan, I love this article!! For years I have trained my recruiters on the use of online groups and social networks as a means for recruiting; even using MySpace and Twitter. I’m old school, so I tend to do more digging and headhunting than most of the new school recruiters that worked for me. Many would roll their eyes, thinking it was a waste of time. In reality, it was something new to learn and they were lazy. I’m not saying that’s the case for you, I’m just so glad to see you talking about your success and strategy!

    Now, don’t forget to add to your recruiting via Twitter strategy by using JobShouts.com. :)

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  • lazzyrock

    Enjoy here @lazzyrock

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  • http://www.nasinteractive.com Jamie Coffee

    Megan, Great article. Many people seemed to have a preconceived opinion of Twitter. (I was a little hesitant myself.) However Twitter has become a part of my daily routine as well. Aside from building relationships, I have found it to be a quick and interesting method for gathering information and staying up to date with the industry. Thanks for sharing @JLCoffee

  • http://www.MarkMontoya.com/index.php Mark Montoya

    Great article! Really good tips and techniques for using Twitter to find quality hires. Thanks!

  • http://www.smilingtreewriting.com Dava

    Megan,
    Nice job! I have been preaching the use of Twitter in the office for several months; most of the recruiters worry about the time-suck issue but one is using it regularly. Thanks for sharing your success stories.
    Dava Stewart

  • http://www.jaazle.com heartofhr

    I’m just starting on Twitter. I knew Twitter was a powerful tool. The learning curve and time committment overwhelmed me. Michael Long’s Twitter training http://www.theredrecuiter.com, got me started.

    Your article brings additional hope to me.

    Lori Goldsmith

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  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Boolean Black Belt

    Thanks Lori! Michael definitely has a great site. I’m glad you found my post helpful!

  • Yvette M. Kriz

    Megan,

    Like you, it took me awhile to believe that Twitter would be another tool for recruitment purposes! I’ve just gotten started and am working on getting my first hire as well!

    I have been converted and your wonderful article was just affirmation that it will be worth all the effort.

    Thank you!!

    Yvette

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  • mac

    Thanks for sharing this very informative info.

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  • smumani

    Great article. I’ll give Twitter a go for recruitment.