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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Once again, history has proven Ralph Kramden (http://www.jackiegleason.com/ralph.html) right. "It's not what you know, it's who you know," said the sagacious bus driver of Bensonhurst.
With more people looking around for jobs, getting the attention of the people who are doing the hiring is harder than ever. More people are answering on-line ads, and e-mailboxes - as well as snail mail ones - are inundated with resumes, solicited and otherwise. Many employers who do have jobs to offer have largely gone "off the grid," keeping their opportunities secret to most - except for a select group, the members of their "network."
There's that word again - "network." You could be the best, the greatest, the most accomplished at what you do - but unless you figure out a way to get the attention of the person who makes the hiring decisions, you just might lose out to a less qualified candidate. Why? Because that person knew how to get their name at the top of the hiring person's list - while you relied on the "traditional" method of responding to a want ad and sending in your resume.
I don't think it's fair to say that that "traditional" system is broken - but face it: When you've sent out a couple of hundred resumes with nary a response, it's time to take a good, hard look at the process. It certainly isn't your fault that "they" changed the rules of the game in the middle; but now that they have, you're going to have to learn some new tricks in order to get back in the thick of the game.
You probably know about the various on-line networking sites already, like LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/), Ning (http://www.ning.com/), and FaceBook (http://facebook.com/, also much-used by professionals these days). Networking works; I know several people who have had success in finding jobs using LinkedIn, for example, depending on how much work they put into it. It should be noted, however, that these people put a great deal of time and effort, fine-tuning their LinkedIn profiles (http://bit.ly/T3Lug), joined many groups, and built up a large bank of connections (500+). Building up such a large network could take awhile, though.
And while you should by all means nurture your LinkedIn presence, there's a new kid in town you can use to get to the people who know where the jobs are: Twitter.
In Twitter, you don't make "friends" - you follow people, with their updates streaming on your own Twitter home page. Often, these people will follow you, eagerly reading your updates as you post them (according to Twitter theory, the more people you follow, the more likely you are to get followers). All "tweets" are limited to 140 characters, and you see the whole stream of consciousness emanating from your network on your Twitter home page (mine's http://www.twitter.com/newzgeek, if you care to check it out). Posts range from what the writer is actually doing right now ("Just got out of the meeting") to links to interesting news or blog posts, to questions and answers or requests for assistance.
Unlike on LinkedIn or FaceBook, which give you time to digest what's going on, Twitter is very "of the moment," and you can spend a lot of time watching the posts go by. It's lots of fun! But before fun, work. You're here for a very specific reason - to build up a network that can help you find job opportunities, and the people behind them. It stands to reason that the more people you "know" - the bigger your network - the better. And more than any other social networking system, Twitter is the place to go for big network numbers.
In the Twitter world, there's only one standard whereby success is measured - the number of followers in your network. And when you follow, others follow you. It's like being at a party - everyone wants to be the center of attention, but those potential attention-centers need you to pay attention to them. The more people you "know," the more tweets you will be privy to, and the more connections you will make that can lead to "success," however you define that.
That's the theory, and there are hundreds of sites that will give you ideas on how to leverage Twitter in this way to get more clicks on your blog, sell more products on-line, or just enhance your reputation in an on-line community (hi-tech, of course, but there are many other industries where on-line buzz helps, like restaurants and hotels). If your goal is to enhance your reputation - your "brand" - for online success, you can just follow straight Twitter networking procedures and gather your followers.
Job-seekers, especially in a place like Israel, have to work a little harder, nurturing a network of locals, who of course will know better where the local jobs are. First, when you set up your Twitter account, put your "elevator pitch" in your Twitter bio (160 characters), so potential followers know who you are and what you can do. If that's not enough room, integrate more info about yourself in your Twitter background, using http://www.freetwitterdesigner.com/. Also include a link to an online CV (the ones at http://www.visualcv.com are especially suited for something like Twitter).
Once you set up your Twitter account, it's time to seek out Twitter users located in Israel and start following them, thus building up your network. Fortunately, there are a number of services that let you search for Twitterers in your area, in real time, such as http://www.twitterlocal.net/ (requires Adobe Air), http://twitsnear.me/, and http://www.tweetscan.com/. The latter can be used to search by location and keyword, as can http://monitter.com/, so you could try a search like "Tel Aviv Accounting" if you were looking for an accounting job, for example. But it probably won't be that easy.
You can also join directories of Twitter users, such as http://justtweetit.com/ and http://wefollow.com/tag/israel/ . And others (Google "Twitter directories"). And don't forget the plumbers - they've got a page at http://bit.ly/oDVJw (people in other professions may have more luck at http://twitter.com/jobangels and http://twitter.com/jobshouts).
Now that you're connected, start tweeting - about yourself, your work, your skills, etc. If the usual tweet is a form of "microblogging," as it's been called, think of the messages you send out as "micro-resume-ing." Send out interesting links about your industry, links to blog posts (you really ought to have one, too, but that's another article), and the occasional "if anyone hears about openings in ---, please let me know!" The more people hear about you, the more they'll realize what you're capable of - and the more likely you are to hear about the jobs you're after. With Twitter, "what you know" gets communicated directly to "who you know!"
I couldn't find any hard statistics on how many people have been able to find jobs using Twitter, but there are plenty of stories online. And it makes sense that you have a better chance of finding something, depending on how well known you are in the community. At least for now, Twitter is "the place to be" on-line, and users actually read the communications the people in their network send out (they're only 140 characters, after all) - as opposed to not reading the resumes piling up in their e-boxes. Finally, a case where the short attention spans most of us have actually work to your benefit!