Did you know that according to a recent Society for Human Resource Management survey over 40 percent of employers check out potential job candidates on Twitter. I'd be willing to bet that number goes even higher for those in the informational technology field. If you are going to be active on Twitter- and you should be- make sure you avoid many of the mistakes IT job seekers make when venturing into social media.
Write a weak profile page.
Twitter allows for 160 characters of description, so don't waste them. It make take a few drafts and rewrites, but 160 characters is a lot of space to give the who, what and why of your professional life. Make sure a potential employer would come away with a positive image of who you are professionally after reading your profile. Ideally, you should incorporate the same branding language you used in you resume and LinkedIn page. (You do have branding language on your other career documents, right?)
Use a clip art image, or worse, the Twitter default image
The purpose of social media to to create connections. No one is going to want to connect to a picture of smiling cat, or worse the default egg image Twitter starts you off with. Find a decent head shot to use as your profile image. No need to run out to Glamour Shots (Does that even exist anymore? I may be dating myself) just find a decent picture so that people know who they are talking to when the interact with you. Aside from the profile picture do not be afraid to include professionally appropriate pictures as tweets from time to time. Did you attend a conference? Go on a business trip? A quick snapshot lends both personality and authority to your Twitter stream.
Only follow celebrities and personal friends
Remember, the point of using Twitter as a professional networking tool is to actually network. So unless you think the Kardashians can get you a job, do not follow them. Look for professional peers, leaders in your industry, and companies you are interested in working for. Even better, try to find out who is in charge of hiring and see if they are on Twitter- chances are they are there. If you can make a connection you will have a big leg up on the competitions the next time an opening comes along.
Tweet about your lunch (and other mundane topics)
OK, to be fair we all occasionally tweet about the everyday stuff, and to a degree this is good. Twitter allows our individuality to shine through. The problem comes when that is all you every post about. Keep the majority of your posts about your profession. Tweet about accomplishments. Share good resources. Retweet industry leaders. When possible engage in discussions about your industry. The more you can establish yourself as an authority in your area of expertise the better you chances are of impressing a future employer.
The next time you send out your resume for a great IT position, you now know you have a better than even chance that the hiring agent is going to look you up on Twitter. Be prepared and have a profile that shines and a tweet history you can be proud of. Need some inspiration? Fell free to follow me at @QualityResumes1 . I'd love to connect.