Twitter serves myriad purposes for millions of people. It’s provided space for brand campaigns, event organizations, personal rants, and every other attention-seeking tactic imaginable since 2006. Though many people use it for professional connections, some view it unprofessional at times — certainly not as “respectable” as LinkedIn for branding.
So what makes Twitter such a uniquely useful resource for job seekers (and posters)?
What Twitter has that LinkedIn doesn’t:
The most obvious advantage Twitter holds over LinkedIn is its massive number of constantly active users. Although LinkedIn is currently the top social network favored by recruiters, most of its users are passive candidates, 60% of whom don’t log in more than once a day. (The only two job offers I’ve ever gotten on LinkedIn came from headhunters outside my desired career field, while I was already happily employed.)
Active tweeters, by contrast, are much more likely to be “always on,” ready to catch the latest news. If LinkedIn is a library, Twitter is Grand Central Station at rush hour. This makes it easier for tweeters to get lost in the shuffle, but it also means they have a huge potential audience.
Because so many more people are likely to tweet frequently (and without a brain-to-fingers filter) than to update their LinkedIn statuses, Twitter is a better place for building a brand voice. With the famous 140-character limit, you get very good at expressing your viewpoint concisely, making your account easier to differentiate from others.
Recruiters want to know what kind of personality they’re dealing with when they consider someone for a position. LinkedIn may tell them what you can do, but Twitter will tell them who you are. (Note: this only works if you tweet like you talk in real life. If your online persona is spicy and fearless, but you have trouble meeting people’s eyes in face-to-face conversation, the dishonesty of your Twitter voice will only hurt you in your job search.)
Not only do your tweets accomplish this; your bio is another important resource. Bios are one of the first things people check when they consider following someone new, so there’s no excuse not to make yours awesome. People tend to be more creative with their Twitter bios than they are with their “career objective” lines on LinkedIn. Which one do you think tells recruiters more of what they want to know?
It’s easier to follow people who interest you on Twitter than it is on LinkedIn, because each social network has its own unspoken protocol. Part of Twitter is the understanding that random follows and unfollows just come with the territory. Sending a “connect” request on LinkedIn is a slightly more loaded act if you don’t already know the person (or have a mutual connection). The recipient of your invitation may wonder what you want from him if he’s never even heard of you before. Plus, Twitter doesn’t notify people when you view their profiles, like LinkedIn does, so that minor awkward factor is gone.
How you can optimize your profile to get a job:
Now that you’re convinced of Twitter’s usefulness and are ready to put your best foot forward, we have some incredible tips for you.
- All of your social media presence should contribute to making your name Google-friendly. Thus, try to get your real name (or part of it) as your @ handle. If that’s taken, set aside some brainstorming time to come up with something professional that makes sense with your name. The name of your personal blog or startup are good options. The display name should also be your full real name.
- As mentioned above, write a killer bio that includes hashtags and @ mentions that are relevant to what you do. Include some industry-specific keywords as well, to make it easier for those seeking candidates to find you.
- Use this hashtag-and-keyword principle also when you’re sending tweets specifically to find jobs. (Keep these tweets rare, though; you want to test the waters, not sound like some kind of job-board spambot.)
- Follows aren’t just for people — they’re for hashtags too. Keep track of the conversations occurring under general job-search hashtags, as well as those specific to your field, to get a better feel for whom you should talk to and where you should post.
- Seriously, keep your account clean. Squeaky clean. Whatever you wouldn’t say in an interview shouldn’t be in your digital paper trail (except maybe for cautionary purposes). If you MUST sound off about topics that might alienate future employers, establish a separate account with no ties to your professional one and encourage all of your controversial friends to follow you there.
- Don’t just be a bullhorn for yourself; interact. Retweet posts and articles from industry champions that inspire you. Beyond that, just talk with people. Everyone else wants to be noticed as badly as you do. By acknowledging someone else, you say, “I see you and I think what you just said is pretty cool.” That makes both of you feel important, even if you can’t do anything for each other at the moment.
In conclusion, take a look at how some of the best use their Twitters. Francisco Rosales of Socialmouths advises handing out follows and article backlinks generously in order to get noticed. Social exec Simon Caine found that utilizing the local search and following employees of the companies he wanted to work for got him some great connections. Charlie Loyd, a digital cartographer, went for the gold and tweeted his satellite image work directly at the companies that could use it.
Whatever your Twitter strategy ends up being, the main thing is not to be shy. Don’t see Twitter as a vacuum, either; all of your major social-network profiles should cooperate to frame you as one irresistible future employee.
What’s your Twitter strategy? Are you a master of the network’s pithy communiqué, or will you be sticking primarily with LinkedIn for all your business needs? Tell us below what’s worked for you, and why!
Author: Katherine Halek is a Content Strategist at Signazon.com, a leading online printer that works with thousands of small businesses around the country. Katherine enjoys writing about entrepreneurship, marketing, and career advice. Connect with her on Google+.