Making the Most of Twitter
Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash
Social media can play an important role in your job search. While the most popular professional networking site is LinkedIn, Twitter can also provide the means to network, build your brand, and find out about job opportunities. This blog post will explain the benefits of having a professional Twitter account and best practices for meaningfully engaging with those you follow (and those who follow you).
Why Join Twitter?
Develop Your Digital Identity
At some point during a hiring process, it’s not unlikely that a potential employer will Google you. When they do, you want the information they find to be positive. Creating a Twitter account is one more way in which you can develop a digital identity and actively curate the content that appears in an online search. This is particularly important if you do not have much of an online presence already or if some of those search results are less-than-flattering (e.g., a negative RateMyProfessor review). The more of an online presence you actively develop, the more you will be able to control the message being sent about you.
Whether you’re interested in pursuing a career in academia or industry, Twitter’s capacity for generating conversation and sharing resources can help you develop and maintain relationships. It’s a great informal way to stay in touch with people you meet at conferences, networking events, or other professional gatherings. By following their accounts, liking and retweeting their posts, or directly responding to their threads, you can easily and efficiently stay in contact. You will also be able to connect with even more people who share your interests by searching for and following industry professionals, organizations, or hashtags.
It’s worth noting that, at conferences in particular, there are many connections to be made via Twitter. It is now common practice for Twitter handles to be featured on name badges or listed on PowerPoint slides, and most conferences will also have devised a conference hashtag. A good way to gain followers is to “live-tweet” a conference panel, which entails tweeting out the key points of the presentations in real-time. Be sure to tag the speakers and to use the conference hashtag. People you tag will likely be grateful for the free promotion, while other conference participants who were unable to attend the session will appreciate your synopsis and likely follow you, as well.
Share and Promote Your Work
Twitter is a great place to share and promote your work. In a tweet, it’s easy to link to the latest article you wrote. Adding hashtags will make it more searchable and hopefully garner more clicks and retweets. Even if you haven’t published yet, sharing some of your ideas or takes on hot topics in your field can help you build your brand and establish your name in the field. If you teach, Twitter is also a good place to share lesson plans or syllabi.
Stay Updated on the Latest News
By strategically following industry professionals, organizations, and news sources and regularly checking your Twitter feed, you will be able to stay up-to-date on the latest news in your field. Having this information consolidated in a feed will make it easier to keep track of than having to search news sources individually.
Find Out About Job Opportunities
If you follow companies, institutions, or organizations you’d like to work for, you may come across job postings. People who work at these organizations may also help promote open positions, especially if their own work will intersect with that of the new hire. While not every job is advertised on Twitter, it’s still worth keeping tabs on.
A Note on Professional vs. Personal Twitter
On Twitter, it’s easy to create multiple accounts. Before you begin interacting with colleagues and potential employers, think about whether you want your professional Twitter and your personal Twitter to be one and the same. If you are actively on the job market, there may be aspects of your personal life that you do not want to disclose to potential employers, such as whether or not you have children or your political views. While some users believe that having some personal content on a professional Twitter account can help you show personality, appear relatable, and ultimately build more connections, it’s worth thinking carefully about how you want to market yourself—just as you would on any social media platform.
Choose a Handle
Once you’ve decided which kind of account you’d like to have, think about what kind of handle makes the most sense for you. Many people use variations of their names, which might help your account be more searchable. Alternatively, you may choose to create a handle that reflects the type of work you do—for example, something that includes the name of your field or area of interest.
Fill Out Your Profile
Before engaging with anyone on Twitter, make sure to fill out your profile fully. This includes uploading a profile picture and filling out the bio section. Accounts without profile pictures are often troll accounts, and you don’t want people to accidentally associate you with this demographic. In your bio, you should include a list of professional interests or subjects you are interested in tweeting about. You may also want to include your institutional affiliation.
Post Some Tweets
Before you start following people from a new account, you should post some tweets so that, when people click on your profile, they will get a sense of who you are. People are unlikely to follow you back if they know nothing about you or aren’t sure if they’ll like your content.
Find Accounts to Follow
When you follow different accounts, their content will come up on your feed, helping you to stay on top of the latest developments in your field or important job opportunities. To find people to follow, you might start by searching Twitter for the names of key people in your industry. You could also try Googling organizations relevant to your field or that you’d like to work for. Many of them will list their social media accounts on their homepages if you can’t find them directly through Twitter’s own search feature. Additionally, there are hashtags on Twitter related to almost any subject or discipline. A few general ones related to academia and graduate school are #PhDChat, #GradChat, #AcWri, #AcademicTwitter, and #WithaPhD. Take a look at what accounts regularly engage with your hashtags of interest and follow those, as well.
Interact with Those You Follow
The best way to develop connections on Twitter is to engage with those you follow and who you’d like to follow you back. Liking and retweeting their content are the simplest ways, though not the most active (especially if the account has many followers and their tweets receive many likes and retweets). To build stronger connections, try replying to their threads to more directly engage in the conversation. Quote tweeting their content—which allows you to add your own commentary onto the original tweet—also shows a higher level of engagement than simply retweeting.
After building a public relationship with someone, it may also be appropriate to message them privately to continue a conversation or suggest a collaboration. A good way to network with a scholar or industry professional may also be to direct message them to share how much you’ve enjoyed their work.
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