In today's social media-dominated world, "social proof" is the record you have created online that demonstrates the kind of person you are.
Social proof either confirms that you are who you say you are - know what (and who) you claim to know - or it damages your credibility.
For example, let's say your resume shows that you are an expert in IT project management. Your LinkedIn Profile confirms significant relevant experience and accomplishments. And your activities on LinkedIn – your connections, recommendations, and participation in Groups and Answers – support and demonstrate your expertise. (Excellent! You read and implemented the tips in Social Proof: Linked(In) to Your Resume.)
Twitter can also support your job search by providing added social proof, too, in several ways.
A Twitter account, like most things online, can be the proverbial double-edged sword.
A Twitter account is not always a "good thing" for a job seeker, depending on how it is managed. Potential employers may well see your tweets since 80% of employers conduct online searches about job seekers before inviting them in to an interview.
Do your tweets reflect the same professional image as your LinkedIn Profile? If you have been tweeting nonsense or sports scores, it may not (unless those are the fields you are pursuing). Change that.
With your "business-only/professional/job search" Twitter account, you can enhance and demonstrate what your resume tells potential employers:
Perhaps, continuing with the IT project manager example, you could establish the Twitter account's Username as "ITProjectManager" (if it was available). So all of your tweets would come from @ITProjectManager. Nice keywords for search, and good for personal branding as well as SEO ("Search Engine Optimization"). Then, you could use your real name (e.g. Mary Jane Smith) for the Twitter Name on the account, connecting the two (more good SEO). So, when someone visited your Twitter account, they would see: @ITProjectManager Mary Jane Smith.
(Read about "Defensive Googling" to understand why a clean name is important today, and read the 8 Twitter Power SEO Tips for Job Search post for more information about putting SEO to work for you on Twitter.)
Stay up to date with what is going on. Often you can interact with the thought leaders on Twitter which is a good way to become "'known" in the larger professional community. Since many people follow them, such interactions can bolster your professional reputation online. And be very good networking!
Be on the lookout for good articles and information relevant to your profession (set up Google Alerts for "news" on your profession and relevant topics). Tweet and generously ReTweet good information which is on topic about your profession and/or industry.
In general, I think it's a good idea to stay positive. Try not to spread unsubstantiated rumors and gossip. Stick to news and solid information that will help people or be of interest to your network.
Many, MANY employers tweet their job postings on Twitter, so it's a great source of job leads. Search Twitter for the names of employers who interest you. You'll find individual tweets and you will also find Twitter accounts. These will help you stay up-to-date on the latest news from the employer, and it may also help you connect with someone who already works for the employers you want.
@JobHuntOrg on Twitter created several popular Twitter Lists, and the most popular is Employers-Recruiting on Twitter – nearly 500 employers tweet about their job openings, career fair participation, and other information about their recruiting. Check it out, and follow the List or pick out the employers who interest you from those the List follows.
Tweeting at least 2 or 3 times a day keeps you involved and visible. It also helps you stay up-to-date with your field and to demonstrate that you are up-to-date. Services like TweetDeck and HootSuite can help you manage a steady stream of tweets without keeping you tied to your keyboard all day.
Be sure to connect your business/professional Twitter account with your LinkedIn account and your other professional activities online using the same name for all of your accounts.
If you enjoy Twitter for personal use – sharing your opinions on many things, people, sports, and political and religious issues - think about having a second "personal" account, separate from the one that supports your job search and career.
If you choose to have (or to use) Twitter only for your personal amusement, disconnect - or don't connect - that Twitter account with your LinkedIn Profile, and don't use your "professional" name on the personal/fun account.
No question - if you have time for only one social network, LinkedIn should be the one. But, savvy use of social media is a job skill growing in importance! So, your skillful use of Twitter and LinkedIn is "social proof" that you understand today's online social world. It will help you in your job search, whether you are 24 or 64.
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.