Using Twitter Effectively to Recruit Candidates

Apr 14, 2009

By now, most of you have heard about, or are using, the “micro” blogging site Twitter. It’s a great way to tell your contacts what you’re doing, or what you’re eating for dinner tonight, or what television show you can’t stop watching. But for those of us in the sourcing and recruiting industry, the question is “How can we use Twitter to source candidates?” Thankfully, you can. Limiting your “tweets” to 140 characters may not provide much substance, but there are ways to get the information or people you are after.

Let’s start with using Twitter’s search interface. The Advanced Search interface, at first glance, appears to be a great resource. However, in my experience it only searches the individual entries, or better known as “tweets.” Most of the information we are after is going to be in the very valuable “BIO” section. You are only allowed 160 characters in this space as well, so it’s very important to concisely state your profession and expertise here. In addition to the BIO section, there is also location information available, and one link to an external site. THIS is the information we are after.

I have experimented with searching Twitter through a site: search on Google, and the results have been good, so while I do recommend that method, there are also numerous third-party search applications out there that will search this information. A couple worth mentioning here are Tweepsearch ( and Twellow ( Both of these search engines search bio information only, and I’ve found the results to be a great help in numerous searches. For example, say you have a search for a Java developer and they can be based anywhere in the Midwest. Using Twellow, entering the following search string yields 23 targeted results:

java (Chicago | Detroit | Indianapolis | Cleveland | Milwaukee | Minneapolis)

Granted, this is a very basic search string, and although it’s not yielding a great amount of results, these are very targeted individuals that you can easily get in touch with via a Direct Message on Twitter.

While being able to search Twitter for passive candidates may be great, you’re not fully utilizing this resource unless you harvest Twitter’s ability to quickly get a message out to the right people. Building a strong following on Twitter can be a lengthy process, but the results can be great. For example, I recently had a local client in need of a Web Designer. I searched for, and then “followed”, local web and graphic designers in my region using Twellow and LinkedIn. Many (I would say about 90%) of people you follow will follow you back, so soon I had a good number of those people following me. Instead of taking the time to send each one of them a Direct Message through Twitter, I simply put out a “tweet” that I had a local client looking for a talented Web Designer. In literally five minutes I had a message from a colleague of a Web Designer that was following me, and we ended up sending him out for an interview that day.

As Twitter grows in popularity, it will become an even more valuable tool in your recruiting arsenal. In fact, just last month Twitter passed LinkedIn in terms of the number of unique visitors to the site, with over 14 million hits. If you are not using this site as a tool to not only search for passive candidates but also communicate instantly with a targeted audience, you’re simply not leveraging this valuable tool to its full potential.

versluis-photoPrior to joining The Judson Group, Jeff Versluis spent over four years developing his recruiting and staffing expertise with search firms in both Florida and Michigan.  Jeff is responsible for all research functions, including passive candidate generation, data mining, market research and other special projects. He has successfully used his knowledge of accounting, finance, banking, and administrative services to leverage an extensive network of contacts.

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