If you're a social media maven, you're already doing a pre-interview check for company information posted at Facebook and Myspace, then moving on to Plaxo to read up on company officials.
But have you checked Twitter for tweets? It's no surprise given the huge publicity push Twitter.com has gotten in recent months to find even banks are now "tweeting," as they say.
A recent study by the public relations firm the William Mills Agency found financial institutions, especially community banks and credit unions, were ahead of the Twitter curve. The implication: Job seekers can get a leg up by adding Twitter to other resources for researching the employer, and by positioning themselves as savvy users of social networks if appropriate.
The study of 1,176 tweets created by 63 financial institutions found 33 percent didn't post at all during the month. Nine organizations hadn't yet replaced the Twitter placeholder graphic with a photo. The most popular Tweet types were links to Web addresses (25 percent), internal news (8 percent), chatter (6.5 percent) and re-tweets (6 percent).
To benefit, first add Twitter to your research of a potential employer's culture. Second, take a page from William Mills' playbook and think about how you can use your social networking knowledge to position yourself as a social networking expert. Third, bring up social networking issues, if they're relevant to your target role.
For instance, if you're applying for a marketing position you could say: "I notice that Bank of Zeno has posted information on Facebook and MySpace and you're using Twitter to alert customers to new products and services. How effective has that outreach been?"
In the best of all possible worlds, this would lead to a discussion about how you could help the bank effectively use social networking.
On the other hand, William Mills found the top 20 percent of accounts surveyed produced over 80 percent of the tweets. So, it's entirely possible the only response your interviewer will have to a comment about social networking is to wonder what the heck you're talking about.