UXswitch.com spoke exclusively to Mike Joosse, Community Director at Designation LABS about how a good Twitter profile can set you apart from other designers and improve your chances of getting the you want

Introduction

Near the end of the program at DESIGNATION, I give a very important piece of advice to every cohort: make sure you have your online profile tightened up, because if it’s out there, a hiring manager’s going to see it.

Practically speaking, that means any social media platform you use has the potential to be seen by a hiring manager, and play a role in your interview process. Some are more applicable to your job search than others, but they’re all fair game if they have your name on them. Fortunately, there are many ways to make them work for you.

One of the most valuable of these platforms is Twitter. It can be a powerful way to help you if you’re hunting for a new job, and with time and work, it can become one of your most valuable portfolio pieces. Getting to that point requires taking a few steps—and being comfortable with yourself out there.

Step 1: Profile Set-up

Make sure your profile is up to date with your most recent biographical information. Did you just graduate from a bootcamp or educational program? Make sure to list and link to it in your profile. Is your portfolio up-to-date and ready to be seen by employers? Put its URL in your profile. And, with the short number of characters left, is there something you can say quickly about the type of employment opportunity you’re seeking? Or type of company you want to work at? That can be tough to summarize efficiently, so if you can’t, don’t worry too much about it. Your Twitter feed will do the heavy lifting to talk about who you are.

Use a photo of you as your profile picture. It needs to be recent, look professional, and show your face clearly. Professional doesn’t mean stiff and formal, but definitely avoid any photos of spaghetti hanging out of your nose. If it’s the same photo that’s on your portfolio site and LinkedIn profile, that’s just fine; this kind of consistency is a small but reassuring sign that you’ve put some thought into coordinating your various profiles.

Finally, the most important requirement: your feed needs to be public. Private feeds serve no professional purpose, and can actually make a hiring manager think you’re hiding something embarrassing (or worse). If you already have a Twitter account and keep the feed private for only your close acquaintances, that’s okay. But it means you’ll need to start a second one that uses the following tips for content.

Step 2: Populate your feed with solid content

Now that you’ve built the house, it’s time to move in. If you’re using Twitter for the first time, figuring out what to talk about can feel a lot like writing the first sentence of a book. It’s going to take some time to get into a steady rhythm of writing and figure out the areas of content you want to write about. And that’s okay.

If you’re new to Twitter, definitely post a number of tweets quietly. This will happen after you’ve setup your profile but before you start to tell people you’re on Twitter. This allows you to start figuring out what to write about in a low-pressure environment where no one’s watching. After you’re comfortable with your output, you can start to connect with others and get on their radar. More on that in a second.

Decide what you want to talk about. That can be a single specific topic, or many broad ones. You don’t need to be a subject matter expert instantly; tweets are so short and specific that the platform above all else encourages a lot of variety if you want to try a bunch of topics. But subject matter expertise is what can visibly show hiring managers that you do your research about the industry you’re trying to break into.

Alongside publishing original content, Twitter is really excellent for giving you the ability to comment on other content. Links to interesting articles, other designers’ posts, tools and resources you’ve found—it’s all great to talk about. Especially for articles and publications, tweet about them quickly, as soon as they’re published (or as soon as you find them). The nature of Twitter means content can get lost or buried pretty quickly, so you want to act fast.

Once you’ve established a point of view, it’s time to start interacting with companies. There’s a very good chance that the ones you want to work at are on Twitter and publishing regular content. Search for companies you admire or that produce excellent design and follow them. If there are individual employees doing great work or who have Twitter feeds you like, follow them too. But go further: if a company or person writes a post you like, retweet it. If they post about news, updates, awards, or other activities, congratulate them on it with a tweet. Just make sure to include the company and author handles in your tweet; when you do that, it shows up on the company’s feed. Quite often, companies you tweet about will follow you back and retweet you. That gets you on their radar—but even better, it gets your content in front of their audiences. It can get you connected with many other followers and designers, which can be extremely helpful as you search for your job. 

After you’ve built up some good content, create lists based on topics that interest you, as a way to organize your sources of inspiration. “ publications,” “design firms I like,” “amazing digital design bootcamps”—whatever you like. Lists don’t really give you an added ability to use Twitter better, but help hiring managers know what you’re paying attention to. They want to know you’re aware of what’s happening in the industry, and this can be an easy way to show it. And once your lists are set up, you can always go back to them for new content to read or see.

And if it’s difficult to find regular time to tweet, services like Buffer and Hootsuite allow you to schedule tweets for future publication; Twitter’s own Tweetdeck offers you the same functionality too. So if you need to sit down for an hour and plan two weeks of tweets, that’s always going to be better than tweeting a bunch and being silent for two weeks.

Step 3: Make sure it stays useful for you

The final step is to keep it all up over time. It can be tough to stick to it when time passes, and especially after you’ve started the job you worked to get. But when you build up a sustained amount of content, three important things happen:

  • You get stronger at self-promotion. It becomes easier to use Twitter—and other sources—for creating content and getting your name out there.
  • Your point of view deepens over time, and you give yourself the freedom to spread out and talk about other professional areas. You become a stronger, more thoughtful SME.
  • The collection of content becomes a portfolio piece in itself, which future employers will recognize.

 

Again, any social media platform you use can be found by hiring managers. So when you turn it into something that speaks on your behalf, it can be a remarkable tool.

mike joosse





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