TAO Self-help

Title:How to Build a Twitter Profile That Will Take Your Career to the Next Level

Author:© Sultan Camp, reprinted with permission

Date:June 2014


Last week, we discussed why you need Twitter for your career (even if you think you don't). If you missed it and you're not convinced Twitter is for you, take a few minutes to read it now and catch up. If you've read it and you're still with us, welcome back!

Ready to get started? Then let's go!

Your Username and Profile Picture

Your actual name on Twitter is only visible on your Twitter profile. However, your username, which is called your Twitter "handle," is connected with all of your tweets. It's also the URL for your Twitter account.

Be creative when you choose your handle. You want it to reflect your profession; however, keep in mind that when you tweet, it counts against your 140 character limit in your messages, so you don't want to make it overly long.

I also have to emphasize that the first word in social media is social. Be sure to select a picture for your Twitter profile that represents you as a professional — not an avatar or etc. Remember this is your new first impression, so choose your photo accordingly. This picture should also be the same one you use on LinkedIn. Why? Your aim is to create consistency. People recognize you faster as you interact with them, and it adds a personal touch to what can be an impersonal medium.

Your Bio

The first thing that someone sees after your Twitter profile picture and your name is your bio. This is your 10-second elevator speech or sales pitch. People will decide whether or not they follow you based on it. Your main objective is to arouse the Twitter user's curiosity, but also make yourself findable by employers. (Click here to tweet this though.) (I'll talk about a cool tool that I use as a recruiter to search Twitter bios in a few.)

Remember that Twitter isn't as straight-laced as LinkedIn, so have a little fun with it. The neat thing is that you can see how many followers (and what type of audience) your profile attracts over the course of a week. After doing so, you can then change your bio slightly and track the new amount of followers the following week. If the amount of followers and the type of followers you want to follow you went up, then keep the changes you made and make an additional one. Fewer followers? Go back to the previous version and change something else.

The last component of your Twitter profile is the choice of a link. Twitter allows you to share one clickable link for users to find out more about you. Most professionals start off with their LinkedIn profile URL. However, if you have a blog or a website — or you've gotten creative and set up a Prezume or visualCV — that may be a better choice for you.

Your Circle of Influence

One of the biggest challenges for the new Twitter user is deciding whom to follow. I typically suggest that you follow the Twitter accounts of companies or organizations you want to work for or with whom you want to do business.

Just think of the impact you'll make on a hiring manager when they ask you the predictable "What can you tell us about our company?" Your competition will parrot the vision statement, etc., from the company's website; but you will share news about a new product, contract or other announcement that may have been shared by the company on their Twitter feed that day.

Talk about a wow factor! Heck, your interviewer may not have been aware of that breaking news! (Unless they're reading this article, of course.)

Heed Caution Before You Interact

Most Twitter users fail because they don't take the time to listen. Don't be one of them. (Remember the old adage "listen before you speak"? It still applies.)

Once you've chosen to follow a company's Twitter account, watch their Twitter feed for about a week. Pay close attention to the information they share and how they interact with their followers, and then start engaging in the conversation. Start building your social capital by retweeting a post. Your aim is to slowly establish a relationship with the person(s) managing the company's Twitter account.

Once they've felt comfortable enough to follow you, you can then direct message them asking for tips or suggestions for applying for positions at their company, or even request the name of the hiring manager for a particular position.

Building Your Personal Hiring Team

As I previously mentioned, another strategy is to find people on Twitter who can either hire you or place you in front of hiring managers. For this reason, I like Followerwonk. Once you've signed in using your Twitter account, it allows you to search all of the 600+ million Twitter user biographies.

For example, for the military job seeker looking for a recruiter who specializes in sourcing military talent (which you should be), you can enter "Military Recruiter" or "Military Talent" in the "search Twitter bios" tab and then narrow your list based on their bios and industries. You can also search for titles such as "Executive Vice President," "General Manager" and "CEO" to grow your network.

Don't go overboard, though, because you want to have as many people follow you as you personally follow. This is called your friend-to-follow ratio (FF). Most Twitter users will look at your FF, most recent tweets, how long you've been on Twitter and whether or not your profile seems genuine. You should do the same before following anyone. This is how you can spot spammers, as well.

Remember that you're not obligated to follow anyone back simply because they follow you. There's a cool app called JustUnfollow to help keep your FF ratio balanced. Twitter allows you to follow up to 2,000 tweeps (had to do it). At that point, it looks for an FF ratio of less than 120% before it allows you to follow any more.

Let Technology Work for You

There's a host of different articles that will provide more of the "nuts and bolts" of using Twitter for your career than the scope of this article allows. Topics such as the best hashtags for job seekers to use and advanced job search techniques using Twitter are a few that are out there.

It's important to note that managing Twitter can become confusing and time-consuming. For that reason, I suggest you use Twitter management tools such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and SocialBro to keep track of whether or not your name has been mentioned, to keep your Twitter feeds organized, and to set up persistent searches (such as jobs and business opportunities). Using these tools allows you to dedicate no more than 10 minutes to managing your Twitter account each day.

I'm eager as always to hear your thoughts and feedback. If you're on Twitter, let's connect and "Tweetup" with the hashtag #MilChat. I'll be happy to answer any questions you have on there, if you dare to enter the Twitterverse. For those who are still unconvinced, you can connect with me on LinkedIn.

How will YOU start using Twitter for your career? Let us know!

Sultan Camp is a proud veteran, travel hound and Orion International Military Recruiter looking for hard workers to place into rewarding careers within Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Making your military transition successful is his goal.

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