Posted by Robert Half on 27 January 2015
Over the last ten years, social media has evolved from being a way of simply connecting with university friends to a global force, helping people across the world stay in touch, share experiences and now the likes of twitter can help your career enhancing your professional lives.
While there are two distinct sides to the coin, with the likes of Facebook and Instagram mainly providing ways for like-minded people to share their social adventures or to stay in touch with friends, other social media platforms like LinkedIn offer a more corporate means of networking with people in the same company and sector, and also as a hunting ground for new jobs and recruits.
However, Twitter sits somewhere in the middle, from friends and family tweeting about innocuous goings-on, to news services alerting users to global developments.
One emerging trend, however, is to use Twitter as a means of boosting your professional standing and - in turn - career prospects, a digital portfolio if you will. But the practice is one that needs careful consideration to avoid it having the opposite effect.
As such, there are five key ways how Twitter can help your career prospects to ensure you are reaching the right people and presenting yourself in the best possible way.
1. Remain professional
Although there remains a question mark over whether you can be fired because of something you posted on Twitter during your own free time, it's safe to say that it's best to avoid posting anything publicly that could compromise you. Equally, a potential employer will be very likely to Google your name at some stage in the recruitment process, so make sure your profile is professional to the extent that it does not contain anything you wouldn't say or do in the workplace. Furthermore, if your Twitter account is primarily targeted at friends and family, you may want to keep it private so that people have to request to follow you and see your tweets.
2. Be engaging
Although having hundreds of followers on Twitter can be satisfying, having significant influence over them is another thing entirely, so try to be as interesting and engaging as possible online by posting relevant content for your industry and followers. Furthermore, in an age where it is possible to pay for a thousand followers instantly, remember that employers can check the validity of these accounts using tools such as Twitter Audit. It is always better to have a smaller, legitimate following than a huge, fabricated legion of 'people'. By posting engaging content on social media, it highlights that you are passionate, knowledgeable, understand technology and are able to interact with people.
3. Give an insight into your personality
One overlooked aspect of social media is how Twitter can help your career as it gives you the ability to let your personality shine through in what you say or do. When applying for a new job, remember that there are dozens of other candidates with a similar level of education, work experience, and job-related skills, and so personality could be the deciding factor. By demonstrating that you are far more than simply punctual or a team player, you can stand out from the crowd.
4. Think of it as a work account
Everything from your Twitter handle to the background of the pictures you post is can help your career, but be warned it can be scrutinised, so it's important to manage you online reputation. Try to think of everything from a professional point of view, if you know that current or prospective employers can find you online then all the more reason to treat your Twitter account as a work profile. Fundamentally, attempt to keep your tweets and status updates free of grammar and spelling mistakes or 'netspeak', particularly if your job is a public-facing one and you can therefore be judged on how you interact with the public. Try to avoid using emoticons and exclamation marks excessively unless they help to add tone to a Tweet or reply.
5. Think of your personal branding
The beauty of using social media and in particular how Twitter can help your career to boost your career prospects can cultivate a rich persona that can be nurtured and augmented accordingly to convey yourself in the best possible light. While pretending to be someone you're not is ill-advised, social media can help to paper over any perceived shortcomings you have and provide a gateway in online discussion that may otherwise have seemed daunting face-to-face. Twitter is a useful tool, and - when harnessed correctly - can prove to be a valuable learning device that helps people acquire skills and knowledge to boost their career prospects.