Twitter 101: How to Tweet Your Way to a Strong Personal Brand

on twitterUsed correctly, Twitter has become a valuable tool for building your online reputation and bringing you to the attention of employers and recruiters.

Used incorrectly, however, the opposite is also true… you can quickly ruin your reputation and career credibility.

In short, Twitter can have a powerful effect your personal brand.

I had the honor of speaking to a very smart, and congenial, group of professional women at the New Hampshire Women in Higher Education Leadership (NHWHEL). My topic was 21st century job search and career management, so – of course – I spoke about Twitter.

I encouraged my audience to focus on tweeting “on brand” for their careers. Near the end of the talk, one of the questions focused on what an on-brand tweet would look like – what it would contain and how it would be worded.

What Is “On-brand” for Your Career?

Using myself as an example, “on-brand” for me is simple: solid, relevant information about job search, employment, and careers. I look for good articles to share and good tweets to re-tweet, all good enough to be re-tweeted by others, hopefully.

“On-brand” for someone interested in movies could be tweets about new movies (reviews and announcements of new releases), movies going into production, movies under consideration, books that would be great movies, books that would be terrible movies, directors, actors, box office trends, protecting copyright, etc.

“On-brand” for someone interested in restaurants would be tweets about new restaurants, new recipes, maybe new foods, etc.

In almost every case, a focus on the positive stories helps (although displaying a sense of humor and confidence when tweeting not-so-positive content can also be effective).

What Is NOT On-brand for Your Career?

Tweets that are NOT related to your career: what you ate, what your kids are doing, what your pets are doing, vacation plans, that annoying neighbor, your favorite NFL team, and so on.  Those kind of tweets can certainly be considered “sharing” and “conversational,” but not really on-brand for most of us, unless your brand is related to kids, pets, vacations, etc.

If you MUST tweet about topics that are not “on-brand” for you, set up a recreational or personal Twitter account for those tweets.

When I’m presenting my career brand, I’m careful about what non-career information I share because I think my Followers view the off-brand tweets as “noise.” They’re worried about their careers, their job search, their jobs, and, while I find my pets fascinating, most people won’t find tweets about them to be relevant to what they want and expect  from me.

Finding On-brand Information to Share

I find information by:

  • Twitter (of course!) – a wonderful source of information
  • Visiting the sites I regularly read to stay up to date
  • Checking Google and the Google Alerts I have set up to send me daily updates of news and blog posts on specific keyword phrases (see Setting Up Google Alerts for details)
  • Reading the emailed alerts that many online news sources provide
  • Checking the emailed newsletters I receive
  • LinkedIn Discussions posted on the Groups I follow
  • Articles or blog posts you or friends and colleagues have written

If you have your own blog or writing to promote, tweeting only about your activities seems rather self-centered. Tweet at least 50% of the time about other great on-brand content you have found that is worth sharing with your followers.

Structuring Your Tweets

When I find a good article that I want to share, this is what I do:

  • To leave room for a painless retweet, structure the tweet so that 15 to 20 characters (or enough for ‘RT @TwitterHandle: ‘ Twitter adds on a retweet) are available
  • Start with the article title, perhaps shortened, if necessary, or an interesting point in the article
  • Plug in the article’s URL (Twitter will automatically shorten the URL so it will fit better)
  • Always add the author’s Twitter handle (to find people and companies on Twitter, use the “Find friends” search)
  • Add the publication where it appeared, prefaced by “via” or “in” like this: ‘via @NYTimes’
  • Finish with appropriate hashtags, which in my case are usually #jobsearch #jobhunting, #LinkedIn (which can also be #in)

If you are tweeting about an article, be sure to give credit to the writer, and, if there is room, also credit the source, like the writer’s blog or the publication where the article appeared. This makes it clear who deserves the credit for the article, and also often brings you to their attention, which is a great way to grow your Twitter network.

Example 1 – Tweet about a great on-brand article

Jodi Glickman Brown (@GreatontheJob) has written 2 excellent blog posts on the Harvard Business Review site delineating an effective process for getting written recommendations from people for your job search.

Jodi’s article is entitled, “How to Ask for a Reference Letter, Part II: The Template” and the URL is

This is a very basic (and not exactly compelling) 112-character tweet:

“Reference letter template process, by @greatonthejob via @HarvardBiz: #jobsearch #references”

And here is a much more inspiring and enthusiastic 123-character version:

Excellent! “How to Ask for a Reference Letter” by @greatonthejob via @HarvardBiz #jobsearch #reference

Example 2 – Re-tweet an excellent on-brand tweet by someone else

If you have an on-brand truth that resonates for you and would help others, tweet it yourself (if you “discovered” it) or re-tweet it, if you see that someone else has tweeted the content already:

Gayle Howard, a professional resume writer and job search coach, typically sends out a constant stream of tweets about mistakes she sees people making as she is helping her clients. They are definitely on-brand for me, so I re-tweet them when I find them in my tweet stream, like this one.

This is a 123-character tweet and such great advice. Note the use of “RT @GayleHoward” is telling readers who originated this tweet.

“Right! RT @GayleHoward No matter how friendly & engaging the interviewer, avoid faux pas of bad mouthing former employer.”

Bottom line: When building your strong personal brand on Twitter, view your professional tweet stream as a personal AP Newswire about your profession. A strong brand is essential for your network, your job search and your career.

New to Twitter? A bit intimidated? It’s only too late for you… if you don’t start now.





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About the Author: 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, 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 Follow Susan on Twitter and on Google+.



© Copyright, 1998 – 2013, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.

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