A decade ago, neither Facebook nor Twitter existed. Much as I’m an advocate of sending postcards and making a good old-fashioned phone call once in a while, I can’t deny that they’re fantastic inventions for keeping in touch and sharing information with dozens of people. However their use also extends beyond being a social tool, and I cannot stress enough how crucial networking sites such as Twitter now are if you’re looking for work or experience in the media industry.
Case Study – Me
Like a lot of people in their 20s, I’d been on Facebook for several years by the time I was doing my MA. Twitter, however, seemed a bit pointless and I didn’t think I’d ever find myself signing up. This all changed after my placement, where the people I worked with were tweeting several times a day and I realised that there was actually more to it than everyone just saying what they’d had for breakfast. I duly created a profile and now I can’t imagine life without Twitter. So many opportunities have been opened purely because of people/companies I’ve followed and the vast majority of film and TV related jobs I’ve ever applied for have been advertised on Twitter.
The following are all genuine examples of how Twitter has opened up new possibilities for me:
- I found out about Birmingham Social Media Cafe @BirminghamSMC, a monthly networking event which I attended several times whilst job hunting. This subsequently led to a day’s work experience with one small production company and an offer of paid editing work from another company several months later.
- Discovered a great website called @historyinanhour, that I now contribute articles to.
- Was approached by a husband and wife filmmaking team about a new web series they were producing, asking if I wanted to be involved. They’d looked at my profile after I began following them and read that I was a Film and TV graduate ‘looking for work in Brum’. I subsequently got a credit as a Production Assistant.
- I researched local production companies that I never would have found out about otherwise who I then approached about work experience. Several speculative emails later this led to paid work as a freelance researcher.
Of course, all the above examples have depended a lot on luck and my own initiative: I read the right tweets at the right time, followed the right people and marketed myself successfully when networking and sending initial correspondence. But the fact is that without Twitter, my CV would be much less interesting.
Is there actually a good reason not to sign up to Twitter? It doesn’t have to take over your life and you don’t have to watch it constantly. The beauty of hashtags means you can direct your searches effectively and you can easily be pragmatic about who you choose to follow if predominantly using it as a job-hunting tool. Through the @FTV_Birmingham account I regularly retweet opportunities and there are dozens of companies for whom Twitter is now central to the recruitment process.
Just remember to keep it professional and that finding opportunities is only the first step – following them up is another blog post entirely!