5 Mistakes Recruiters Make On Twitter

When I signed up for Twitter in March 2008, I was a working as a busy Executive Recruiter and always seeking new ways to brand myself and the business I worked for, as well as ways to identify potential candidates. In those early days, I spent quite a bit of time learning how to connect, to build relationships and to find business benefits for the time that I spent online and on Twitter.

One of the biggest benefits I found was building an awareness of top talent in my local area – and worldwide – that I could consider for opportunities with my clients and “meeting” many awesome people that I believe I would never have come across through other channels – referrals included. As a result of building rapport and familiarity via Twitter, I was often able to reach out to my connections if there was an opportunity that I felt may be of interest or that they may know someone whom they’d like to refer – and they were more than willing to help. Personally, I never really used Twitter as a candidate sourcing method, although there are plenty of effective ways to use Twitter to identify talent to recruit.

Now, as a speaker, trainer and consultant working with companies and individuals on how best to use Twitter and other methods for recruiting top talent, I’m always on the lookout for best practices – and I’ve also come across quite a few “not so best practices” as well.

Below are five examples of “what not to do” on Twitter as a Recruiter.

1. Posting only job links

The best way to find the least value from Twitter as a Recruiter is to post only links to the jobs that you’re recruiting for. Why? Because just as no one would want to spend time talking with a Recruiter at a networking event who only spouted job links, they also don’t want to “talk” to them on Twitter.

Twitter is about engaging in conversation and adding value. Recruiters who only post job links typically have very few Followers and the visibility for all of those links they’re sharing is practically nil. These Recruiters are often the first to say “Twitter doesn’t work for recruiting”. At least not the way they’re doing it.

2. Protecting Tweets

Nothing says “I’m looking to build some mutually beneficial business relationships” like not trusting others with the information you share. Twitter is designed to be most effective when you’re able to access and participate in the larger conversation. Personally, I don’t follow accounts with protected tweets and they typically have very few Followers. Why? Because they’re doin’ it wrong.

3. Incomplete Bio/No Profile Photo/No Website Link

Want people to follow you on Twitter? Give them a reason to do so. You’ve got 160 characters to build interest, include keywords and share a bit about yourself. People make Follow decisions quickly on Twitter. If you’re not interesting or inviting, they’ll likely not connect. And for gosh sakes, give them a way to find out more about you/your company with a link to your careers page, company website or at least your LinkedIn profile. The Recruiter below is asking job seekers to get in touch with him, but provides no way to do so. My guess is – they’re not.

4. Engaging and Interacting Primarily With Other Recruiters

Many Recruiters who’ve given Twitter a shot and feel it’s not worth it may have joined and connected only with a few friends (other Recruiters) – and never really sought out or developed a following among people in the industries or professions in which they recruit. While Twitter can be helpful for finding other Recruiters for split opportunities (3rd party Recruiters), you won’t be able to find fish unless you fish where the fish are.

For example, take my favorite “anti-social” Recruiter – Jerry Albright. Jerry has long been a super successful Recruiter, but he regularly touts the lack of benefits he sees from Twitter.

Take a look at Jerry’s Twitter timeline, and most of his interactions are with other Recruiters and industry associates. However, many of the IT and Engineering types he recruits for are definitely on Twitter. In my opinion, the only thing standing between a Recruiter like Jerry and Twitter success is building a larger following and engaging more within the IT and Engineering communities. Jerry is funny, informative and shares legitimate job openings. It’s likely he could snag one of those illusive “passive candidates” for one of his openings who aren’t even looking, but follow him because of his humor and wit.

5. NOT Talking About What You Had For Lunch

I recently attended a Recruiting Conference where the VP of Talent Acquisition at a local Fortune 200 company mentioned that his company was not using Twitter as a part of their recruiting strategy because “we don’t want our recruiters tweeting about what they had for lunch”. While I would certainly agree that Recruiters (and other employees) need training and guidance on how to best represent themselves and their companies on Twitter, I think this VP has missed the point of Twitter. Being a “whole person” on Twitter and sharing hobbies, interests, photos and tidbits from daily life makes for a more interesting person to follow and can position a Recruiter to share job openings and company information with a broader community of Followers.

For example, Chris Hoyt – Talent Engagement & Marketing Leader at PepsiCo. – classifies himself as a “life streamer” and has built quite a following by sharing interesting and funny tweets from his work, family and personal life along with regular mentions of the brands that he works with and the jobs his team is recruiting for.

In summary, to make this “Using Twitter For Recruiting” thing work, DO the following:

  1. Engage and add value with your tweets.
  2. Take advantage of the ability to build your network – by allowing people to connect with and follow you.
  3. Provide good information in your Bio to encourage Followers and include an appropriate link to learn more about you/your company.
  4. Follow and engage with people in the professions and industries that you recruit for – in addition to friends and professional peers.
  5. Be yourself. People want to follow real people – not auto-tweeters or corporate robots.


What do you see Recruiters doing wrong on Twitter – or what are some best practices you can share for recruiting success? Comments are appreciated!

President & Chief Talent Strategist

Jennifer McClure is a Keynote Speaker, Talent Strategies Expert and Executive Coach who works with clients and companies in the areas of leadership development, communication and talent strategy. Jennifer McClure offers keynotes, workshops and training that inspire and empower business leaders to be more effective in their careers and as leaders of their organization’s most valuable resource – people.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

15 thoughts on “5 Mistakes Recruiters Make On Twitter

  1. I see tons of recruiters making each of the mistakes you listed and also using integration tools to post the same content to all social networks. We train our recruiters to check their analytics and monitor what works. The worst offense by far is simply posting a link to a job on LinkedIn and Twitter. You have to ask yourself: Why would I click on a random link appearing in my stream?

    Follow us on Twitter: @SkillStorm

    • Great add to the list Rebecca! Posting the same status update to several social networks at once is a pet peeve of mine too. There are different types of conversations going on within each of the social networks and my opinion is that the message should be tailored to the “tone” required. (i.e. LinkedIn more professional, Facebook more social & Twitter more conversational)

      I also agree that posting only job links with no info is practically a waste of time. And lazy too!

  2. Great topic, Jennifer. I’m constantly amused when I see people half-@$$ their social media efforts and neglect their online accounts.

    The minimal or missing bio content is the worst. I don’t understand why someone would bother to create an account, but not actually use the available features and functionality so it looks like they “get it.” Same goes for private tweets. What’s the point of following me, if you don’t want to show me what you are all about?

    It really makes me question their credibility and grasp of subject matter when someone has the default egg avatar, yet claims to be an expert, guru, ninja, wizard, etc., of social media. I don’t really pay much attention to number of followers someone has, but look for quality posts that demonstrate their legitimacy.

    BTW: @animal recently chastised me for using a biz logo/icon vs. personal photo on my twitter profile. Maybe that’s why my Klout score keeps declining 

    • Great points! I’d be more than a bit suspect of a Social Media Ninja with an egg avatar too. Or maybe that’s the way it should be. Aren’t Ninjas supposed to be invisible? 🙂

      Animal does typically have good advice on avatars/photos. I doubt it affects your Klout score, but I wonder what would happen if you tried a personal photo for a bit to see if it affects the number of people following you? People tend to want to follow other people – not businesses – on Twitter. Might be worth a try!

    • Thanks for leaving a comment and sharing a link to your post Jubal!

      I agree that “job posting only” accounts can be helpful if used as part of an overall strategy and retweeted by actual humans from other accounts. Many big companies use that strategy with their Careers accounts and their recruiters/employees help to spread the word about job openings by sharing the account’s tweets.

  3. Hi Jennifer, I can’t say I was thrilled to see you used my twitter profile as an example of what NOT to do, but it did open my eyes to changing it. LOL. Good article, and hopefully in the near future, my tweets will be an example you can use of what TO DO when using twitter for recruiting. Oh, and I took your advice and I changed my settings. My tweets are no longer protected. Honestly, I don’t remember doing it on purpose, but better to know the hard way than not to. Hopefully you will overlook this social media faux pas, and connect with me on twitter.

    • Hopefully, you were the only one able to recognize your profile! It wasn’t my intent to call out specific people, which I why I blurred the details on the examples of what not to do.

      However, I’m glad that you took the time to make some changes and leave a comment! I think it will definitely make a difference in your ability to use Twitter for recruiting going forward. If I can ever help with anything or answer any questions you may have, just let me know. Clearly, I owe you one. 🙂

      And I’d be happy to connect with you on Twitter!

  4. Jennifer:

    I really appreciate this article; it helps me understand from the recruiter’s point of view what their twitter process is like. It also educates me as a twitter user. As a Certified Professional Resume Writer (C.P.R.W.) and Career Coach, I never want to do anything that is not respecting the process of recruiters. Your articles are very informative. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts as well as tweets with the twitter community! If I can ever be a source of information for you, please feel free to ask.

    • Thanks Nina!

      I’m glad you found the tips shared to be helpful. In truth, there is not “right” or “wrong” way to use social media. It really comes down to what works for you and your audience. These are just a few things I’ve seen and experienced from a recruiting standpoint that don’t work. And they can definitely be applied to job seekers as well!

      • Thank you Jennifer!

        I appreciate your input; I will try to remember my audience at all times 🙂

        Yes, I was thinking about your article and deduced I could share with job seekers the importance of really doing anything they can to save time for the recruiter.

        Your article educates me on etiquette and it underscores how important it is for job seekers to 1) set up a twitter account with contact info. making it easier in the event a recruiter would like to contact him/her, and 2) participate and tweet regularly job related subject matter as well as tweets which lets others know more about the job seeker.

        Thanks again and I look forward to reading any articles you post(I’ve subscribed 🙂

  5. You make some excellent points here that a lot of recruiters fail to understand. Marketing departments set up blogs, Twitter accounts, etc to engage in a conversation with their customers. It would be completely inappropriate to focus only on promoting their own products, while ignoring the questions, comments and concerns of current, previous and potential customers. It’s no different for a recruiter who opts to only talk about job openings. At OpenView, our Labs team understands how important it is to have your followers determine the agenda of the conversation. Don’t just talk AT them, otherwise you will never maximize the full utility of social media and networking. Great post – keep them coming!

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