Recruiters and potential employers search Google for job candidates, and Google loves Twitter. So, by leveraging search engine optimization (SEO) techniques in Twitter, you can make it easier for them to find you -- not only in Twitter but also in Google and other search engines.
As a job seeker, you want to be found if someone searches on the job title you want, your profession or industry, and also your name. Your Twitter account will be helpful for you even after you've found that next job. Recruiters and employers are always searching for good people, so this account can become a major long-term asset to your career:
Use your real name, your profession, or your personal brand for your Twitter Username.
Your Twitter Username establishes your Twitter URL (e.g. twitter.com/GuyKawasaki or twitter.com/JobHuntOrg) and is your public name in tweets (e.g. @GuyKawasaki or @JobHuntOrg). So focus on maximizing the SEO benefit and the branding of your URL. Imagine tweets coming from you as: @MarketingGuru, @FinancialWhiz, @EcommercePMP, @ProfitManager, @NYCityCPA, or something similar and appropriate for you.
In general, think long term, but, if you must, Twitter does allow you to change your Twitter Username later. Best not to intend to do that when you start, but if you didn't get off to a great start, you can still recover.
Twitter allows a total of 15 letters and numbers in this field. Spaces are not accepted here, but underscores may be used to separate words or letters or numbers.
You have 4 basic options for your Username:
As with your personal email, save the @SexyBlond, @StudlyDudly, and @Colbert4Pres usernames for fun, not for your job search. And, don't add your real name to those non-job-search accounts, unless you want that connection made for recruiters and employers.
Use your name, your profession, and/or other relevant keywords in the "Name:" field in your Twitter Settings, depending on what you are using in the Username field.
This field is 20 characters long, and will accept spaces and punctuation marks in addition to the usual letters and numbers.
When someone visits your Twitter account, they usually see your Profile page which displays your Name followed by your Username in parenthesis at the very top of the browser (the page "title" in HTML-speak) . The words and the order of the words in your Twitter Profile page title are very important to search engines and to Twitter search.
Put your most important keywords first. That's probably your profession or profession and location. PR expert Joan Stewart, above, is the "Publicity Hound" -- the name of her business and her Website. So, Joan uses both names in her Twitter Profile
See the examples below for more options and ideas.
Your keywords are the words you want to describe you. Keep in mind that, in our example, above, Guy Kawasaki is already his own "brand" name. For him, repeating his name is just good SEO because people will probably be searching for him using his name as the keywords. Most of us are not in that position.
Assuming your name is Mary Jane Smith (work with me here, guys) and you are a CPA in NYC, here are some examples with options to consider:
[FORMAT: Twitter "Name" (Twitter "Username"), as they will appear at the top of the Twitter Profile page and be read by the search engines]
If you are like me and many others, your name is relatively common. Differentiate yourself by adding your middle initial or even your middle name for all your online activities. Then, use that name consistently with Facebook, LinkedIn, email, etc. to establish a consistent "brand name" for yourself.
You can change this Name at any time, but it's wise to stick to one version of your name for consistent branding. Having a unique name is becoming increasingly important when recruiters Google job seekers.
If you have a common name, your identity may be mixed up with the identity of someone who has a bad reputation. See the Online Reputation Management for Job Search for more information.
Include where you are living or the location where you want to work.
This is a very important keyword or keyword phrase, particularly for job seekers, because a location name is often used by recruiters when searching for candidates.
Put relevant, keyword-rich information in your Bio. Add the URL for your LinkedIn Profile to your Bio, and use your LinkedIn Profile photo in your Twitter account to reassure people that the two accounts are from the same person.
Leaving the Bio space empty and having no photo are worse than having a blank billboard on a busy highway! Without some content here, you could look lazy and/or clueless. You may even look like a spammer.
Your goal is to include the kind of keywords an employer would use in a search to find people like you.
Twitter gives you 160 characters to use for your Bio. Examples, with the keywords bolded:
Recent college grad, business major, seeking entry level product marketing job w/Fortune 500 co. Intern experience in marketing & sales. Prefer West Coast.
Attorney/corporate counsel w/10 years experience in NYC publishing industry. Skilled w/contracts, IP, & litigation management. Admitted to practice in NY Bar.
If your Bio is empty, potential employers and followers will not be easily attracted, so a big opportunity will be wasted.
Demonstrate your knowledge of your topic, your writing and research skills, and your work ethic, with the tweets you publish:
Attract the attention of your target employers with your tweets:
Employers don't care what your weather is, what coffee you ordered at Starbucks, or what is happening to your team in the latest round of the championship [fill-in-the-blank] playoffs, etc. UNLESS:
You get the idea: If it's not on-topic for your employment and job search goals, don't tweet about it with this account.
BTW, it is probably a good idea to avoid tweets about "causes" unless you are looking for employment supporting those causes. Again, this is something better pursued with your personal Twitter account, not your "professional" account.
If you are looking for a job in one of the green industries, be sure to tweet on the topic using relevant keywords which would include:
For example, with the keywords bolded:
#environment Green jobs initiative launched in Iowa to encourage energy conservation, use of wind & solar power http://bit.ly…
#apple Apple Computer announced an exciting new product today, according to…
(assuming that Apple Computer is one of your target employers, you've used the company name plus the Twitter hashtag for tweets about the company. More on that in #8 below.)
Twitter turns the first 50 characters in each tweet into the Web page title for that tweet. This means that the first 15 to 25 characters of each tweet (depending on the number of characters of the tweeter's Name) are picked up as the page's title - a very important field to Google and most search engines, helping them understand what the tweet is about.
For example, using one of Joan Stewart's tweets:
9 proven headline formulas that sell like crazy. http://ow.ly/fA0O
The TITLE of that tweet generated by Twitter:
Twitter / Joan Stewart: 9 proven headline formulas
You can see that Twitter includes the content in the Name field in the page title of each invidual tweet, as above.
With all the things you have to juggle while tweeting, I wouldn't obsess about this one -- that's why it's number seven. Just keep it in the back of your mind when you are tweeting, and try to keep the most important words first, if you can.
When you find a tweet that you like, you have 2 ways to share it, and both can be beneficial for visibility. Since people often pay attention to their Twitter "Notifications" feed, either (or both) liking and retweeting that tweet can bring you to the attention of the person who created (or retweeted) that tweet.
Increase your visibility with the person who sent out the tweet by:
Both of these actions bring you to the attention of the person who sent the tweet, and they are excellent ways to begin building a social relationship with that person. Employers, in particular, tend to pay attention to this kind of activity, particularly as you repeat it over time. Your Twitter name becomes more visible to them, and you attract their attention.
Do this carefully -- don't be nasty or critical if you are trying to connect in a positive way.
If you've been using Twitter for a while, you are familiar with hashtags. By adding a pound sign, also known as a "hashtag" to relevant words in your tweets, you will be increasing the probability that your tweets will appear in Twitter searches done by other Twitter users.
For example, let's assume you want a job in customer support in an Apple:
If you have room in your tweet, don't be afraid to use 3 or more hashtags as long as the hashtags are appropriate.
People underestimate how important this step is, but Google estimates how popular a web page is by the number of inbound links to it. This gives you an SEO benefit, and it also demonstrates to people, like recruiters, who are viewing your public pages to get an idea of the kind of person you are. How well do you communicate on Twitter? How comfortable are you with Twitter? What kind of a following do you have?
At a minimum, connect your Twitter account to your LinkedIn Profile. If you are smart and careful using Facebook, connect Twitter and Facebook, too.
If you have a blog or a Website, link back TO your Twitter home page -- https://Twitter.com/[your Username] - to encourage people to follow you and to build the search engine "credibility" of your Twitter home page. Add your Twitter URL (twitter.com/Username) to your email signature, to comments you make on blogs, articles you write, etc.
The more links to your user name, using the user name as the click-able text, the greater the "credibility" it has with Google and other search engines.
The more "credible" your Twitter home page is, the more likely it is to turn up in a Google search.
The more you understand about search engines, the better off you will be, particularly when you are job hunting.
If you find entries in the search results you don't like when "vanity Googling" (searching Google on your name), you can supplant those over time with good content, like your blog and tweets. It takes time, but it can be done. Might as well start now building a strong first page of Google results.
Good luck with your job search!
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.