Saturday, May 2, 2009

Twitter: How to Use it To Increase Your Job Marketability

By Marina Sarmiento Feehan, JD, Asst. Director of Employer Relations, Office of Career Planning, USF School of Law.

I have recently started using Twitter and it is my latest obsession. I tweet for the Office of Career Planning (username: USFLawOCP) and I got so hooked that I created my own account (username: marinafeehan). The more I learned about and used Twitter, the more convinced I am that Twitter is a great opportunity to market yourself and pitch your skills to employers.

Here are a few tips on how law students should use Twitter:

  1. Use Twitter Professionally. Twitter is not Facebook but most students use it like a Status update shortcut. Instead of tweeting about how you are falling asleep in Property class, tweet about what you are learning in class. Create a professional persona, as Twitter is so new that it has no privacy settings: what you say is out there for any Twitterer to see. If you are using your real name, your tweets about your drinking nights may be on the web forever. Legal employers are increasingly googling employment candidates, and web-activity you think is normal and fun may look like poor judgment to an employer. The legal professional is all about the exercise of good judgment. Exercise that judgment now and clean up your Twitter and on-line profile.

  1. Create Your Personal Brand. Twitter is an amazing marketing tool. Use it to market yourself to potential employers, colleagues and clients. Upload a lawyerly looking photo, preferably a head shot. Create a bio that states what type of law you practice or the practice area(s) you are interested in. Your profile can also include honors, memberships, and leadership positions. Use your Tweets to promote your knowledge about the law. Did you write a published article? Tweet that but not in a bragging way but in an informative way, i.e. “Wrote article on 4th Amendment, analyzing new case law @ hyperlink.” Did you go to a special lecture where you gained more knowledge about a certain subject? Tweet about what you have learned in an intelligent manner.

  1. Follow Others. Are you interested in Aviation Law? Appellate Law? Employment Law? There are Twitterers who specialize in those fields. Do a search on “law” to find and follow them, then use Direct Messages to show your interest to start a conversation. The trick is to get your name in front of the people doing what you want to do. Exchange tweets, learn about that field and think about what that person may want to learn from you. Your tweets should add value. For instance, you can tweet (or Retweet “RT”) articles about the practice of law or other items that may be of interest to lawyers. Follow legal newspapers on Twitter to be up on the latest legal news that you can pass on to others.

  1. Thank Followers. Exercise good manners by acknowledging and thanking your followers. Tweeters who sent me a Direct Message once I started following them impressed me, enough to make me check out their profile and to consider following them. Your Direct Message is also a good way to point others to your website, your blog, and/or your LinkedIn profile in your signature block, which of course, should all be professional in tone. Then keep in touch and remember to add value. Tweet at least once or twice a day to keep your name out there. Remember, Twitter is all about increasing visibility by increasing the number of followers you have.

  1. Move Beyond Twitter. Twitter is a tool and one avenue to engage in social networking. You can also use it to meet actual people in person, i.e. real life networking. Move beyond Twitter and set up an “Informational Interview” to interview that attorney who is doing exactly what you want to do. Find out about her career path, ask her questions about how to break into her field and what you can be doing now to increase your skill set to be attractive to employers. While the Web 2.0 is an amazing tool, one of the best ways to find a job is to get away from your computer and start making face time.

Hope to connect with you on Twitter soon! If you have any questions, drop by the Office of Career Planning and we are happy to assist you. Follow OCP or me on Twitter @ USFLawOCP; @ marinafeehan.