Tweet This

What it takes to get your jobs retweeted

Tweeting jobs is an increasingly popular approach to broadcasting jobs. Ideally the jobs are retweeted, increasing exponentially the exposure one would get from the initial tweet. Tweeting is a social networking tool, so this can be a great way to tap the power of social media. Get enough people to retweet your jobs and you can reach a huge audience of prospective candidates. Well, maybe. Buy enough lottery tickets and you’ll win the lottery too.

First, some statistics to put Twitter use in perspective. While its popularity continues to increase, only about 8% of adult Americans use Twitter, That’s still a large number, about 16 million people, but Twitter users tend to be clustered into a few major categories: 18-29 in age, African-American and Latinos, and Urbanites. So it’s not the most representative group when it comes to filling jobs. Research by Sysomos — a maker of social media analysis tools — shows that 71% of all tweets produce no reaction. Twenty-three percent produce a reply and only 6% are retweeted. The implication being that the majority fall on deaf years (or blind eyes?). So a lot of those jobs being tweeted are likely not being noticed.

Retweets: Getting Attention

In social media circles retweets are the holy grail. A retweet means that the retweeter has read the original tweet and considers it worth passing on, so the likelihood of it being read is higher. And if even a small proportion of those who follow a company or a recruiter will retweet the jobs they received, a much larger number of people would see the jobs. So what does it take? Having a large number of followers is no guarantee of retweets, but using certain words can make it more likely that a job will be retweeted. Social media researcher Dan Zarella has a list of 20 words that when included in a tweet increase the likelihood of it being retweeted. The list includes “you,” “please,” “retweet” (please rt), “great,” and “check out.” I was underwhelmed too by this revelation, but apparently it works.

Hashtags are another way to get tweets retweeted. Hashtags organize tweets into groups, so people can follow them based on category. As an example, if you sent out a tweet for a job in sales and add #salesjobs to the tweet, it will show up in the feed for #salesjobs and everyone reading that particular feed will see it. Visit to see what categories are popular.

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The timing of tweets is also a factor in their being retweeted. Dan Zarella has also found that tweets made during the morning hours are more likely to be retweeted than tweets made during later times.

The Illusion of Followers

The term “followers” is an interesting choice. It conveys a whole lot more power than “friends” or the more clinical (but the most accurate) “connections.” From the first time I heard about Twitter I thought this was the answer to the prayers of narcissists and stalkers everywhere, and the illusion has been perpetuated. The idea that one has “followers” can do wonders for a person’s self-esteem, especially for those with low self esteem to start with. Most of us know someone who’s very proud of the number of people they have following them. But a person has to be completely delusional or really full of themselves to believe they have enough interesting things to say on a regular, or even occasional, basis that any of their “followers” actually want to read. Having a large number of followers does not equate to influence over them, i.e., they don’t necessarily read or pay attention to tweets. This much was confirmed in a research study called “The Million Follower Fallacy” that analyzed data from some all active Twitter accounts.

There’s a very low correlation between the number of followers and the number of retweets. Many of those so-called followers do so out of politeness than any great desire to hear from the person they follow. One easy way to increase the number of your followers is to start following others in large numbers, many of whom will return the favor. But they aren’t just sitting around waiting for tweets, and most updates will be missed.

Tweets are very likely to get retweeted among followers’ networks when they meet certain criteria. Josh Gordon at Social Media Today has found that the most retweeted items are short (13 words, and 69 characters), use humor, and are personally connected. That suggests that tweets are best sent by recruiters and employees. Sending a tweet under an employer’s name is not likely to have much impact. And they should include something more than just a link to the job. And ask (beg) to have it retweeted.

Raghav Singh, director of analytics at Korn Ferry Futurestep, has developed and launched multiple software products and held leadership positions at several major recruiting technology vendors. His career has included work as a consultant on enterprise HR systems and as a recruiting and HRIT leader at several Fortune 500 companies. Opinions expressed here are his own.


7 Comments on “Tweet This

  1. Retweets are the holy grail for expanding the reach of your tweet, but I’m not sure their the next measure of effectiveness for a job post. Obviously, you shouldn’t be just purely retweeting jobs in most cases as this is by nature non-interactive. You need to add value by tweeting other things of interest, and these are the ones you really want retweeted.

    Because I think the holy grail of job posting tweets is to get people to click on them and read them, not necessarily RT them. You need to have a set of followers that is interested in your jobs. And that comes with both job postings and other tweets.

  2. Don’t forget that job tweets are also being aggregated (if using the correct hashtags) into some job search aggregation sites. This can lead to decent traffic even when there are low numbers of actual followers, or retweets.

    A lot of people use automated posting tools to tweet out jobs pulled from generic RSS feeds – this is not a great way as the end tweet message rarely makes the most efficient use of the limited 140 characters. Best approach is either use of specially optimized RSS feeds, manual posting (if you’re talking lower numbers) or a specially created Tweet posting service (some ATSs have this I believe). Naturally you’d want the link to click through to the best possible version of your job ad (not necessarily the ATS version if you also have an optimized career site version).

    Finally, I’ve seen agencies and companies throw huge numbers of jobs – crossing multiple sectors and locations – into one single Twitter feed. It would be unlikely for jobseekers to follow this kind of untargeted fire-hose. Often better to segment into sector or perhaps location specific accounts. That said, good use of relevant hashtags as described above, can help in this respect as well.

  3. I re-tweeted your Twitter story reference tweets. But don’t let it get to your head! Hope all goes well Raghav.

  4. Hmmm.ISTM that tweeting (along with other SM techniques, email, texting, phone calls) is a very good way of reaching people, as long as not too many people are trying the same thing. I think that’s what may be happening now- a very small percentage of people out there (“the Warred-on Talent” mainly “passive”) is getting a very large percentage of job-related communication, so many in fact that a number of them are overwhelmed and tend to ignore much/all of it- after all they’re already well-set….

    Keith “Go After Who You Can Really Get” Halperin

  5. Thanks for dropping in some of those useful links to help make Twitter more productive…especially the ‘action’ words that seem to have an effect.

    I’ll share a quick thought in response to this:

    […shows that 71% of all tweets produce no reaction. Twenty-three percent produce a reply and only 6% are retweeted. The implication being that the majority fall on deaf years (or blind eyes?)]

    Though it’s too difficult to challenge with quantifiable numbers, I’d argue that a non-reply or non-RT doesn’t necessarily mean it’s falling on deaf ears. Personally, I quite often extract value from these 140 character notes or mini news briefs without ever taking an action. I can absorb important updates without replying or retweeting, and I imagine this can be said for most of the users on Twitter…

    That said, I’ll be sharing your article now (albeit via email 😉 )

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