Using Twitter to Market your Department

I will soon finish my Masters program and I am currently neck deep in the job hunt–looking for Residence Life positions. I went to The Placement Exchange (TPE) and had many wonderful interviews.  However, my job hunt started long before I boarded the plane to Philadelphia.  It began when I first started to research the various schools and positions in which I was interested.

However, everyone does that.

What really set my search apart, and what I want to share, is how I used social media to research each department even more.  After checking out the mission statement, looking at the size and scope of each department, and looking at pictures, I went to Twitter and Facebook and searched the names of key staff, buildings, and the department.  For some institutions, I found nothing (some departments don’t even list the names of their staff members on their websites!)  However, for others, I was able to find a wealth of knowledge about the department, individuals, and students.  These were the schools I learned a lot more about, encouraging me to seek their positions.

One school in particular really struck me. They have a section on their website exclusively devoted to their search for the open position. Great stuff! Then I turned to Twitter. Turns out, most of their professional staff are on Twitter.  I started to follow them and learned a lot about their work and place of employment. Fast forward to TPE, the three people with whom I interviewed were all people I follow on Twitter. I have interacted with them, and I know they have seen my account as well.  The “getting to know you” phase had already taken place. It sure made the “So, tell us about yourself” question a lot easier.

Taking a side step away from my personal story, my current supervisor is looking for two graduate assistants and two professional staff.  During the interviews that he has with various candidates, he says “Hey, if you want to really learn about what we’re all about, follow me on Twitter and read my blog.”  Then, he pays attention to who follows him to gauge their interest. The big point here is that our department is being transparent in who we are and what we offer.  I think you can learn a lot from a website about a department, but seeing the daily tweets and blog postings really allow you to learn that much more.

Back to my personal story–while researching a school in which I was interested, I found a Facebook page for one of their buildings.  This was great. I brought it up in the interview at TPE.  The staff looked at one another and then shared that their strategic goal is to have every building in their residence life program own a Facebook page.

It is possible, as an employer, to use Twitter to market yourself.  It is a great place for candidates to see the day-to-day of who you are. Remember, this may be unpolishedcontent–but, still excellent material!

Brian Gallagher is a graduate assistant in Residence Life at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.

This blog post was originally posted at The Student Affairs Blog on 3.29.11




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