Make Your Twitter Bio Help You Get the Job

It’s hard to sum up the whole of your experience, skills, and passions in a single-page resume. Shorten that to 160 characters, and you have two things: your Twitter bio and a writing exercise that’s probably more challenging than anything you’ve had to do since your last poetry unit in high school English class.

Twitter cage
Courtesy of HTSABO

Getting it right is important. Your Twitter bio might be the first contact a prospective employer has with you, and the first chance they get to form an impression of your abilities and creativity. Odds are, you’re not a professional standup comedian, but you can still make those 160 characters work for you, if you do a few things:

1. Show, don’t tell.

“Lots of us are fans, enthusiasts, thinkers, and gurus on our social media profiles. But might it be more powerful if we talked instead about harnessing ideas, wrangling revenue, obsessing over culture and shepherding our teams?” asks Courtney Seiter at The Huffington Post. “The ‘show, don’t tell’ principle of writing means focusing on what you do, not who you are — and that means action verbs. Try this list of action verbs for resumes and see if any of them add a little power to your profile.”

2. Don’t go crazy with the titles.

“The standard bio is a staccato string of statuses and interests separated by commas or periods. Frequently, one’s parental status is tossed in, particularly by men who seem to want public credit for fatherhood (‘Proud papa to three adorable kids who destroy everything in sight’), writes Teddy Wayne at The New York Times. “Then there are the addenda, the hobbies and passions and random facts.”

The perfect example of the cliche Twitter bio is comedian Rob Delaney‘s faux bio (and now book title), “Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.”

The idea of using titles isn’t the problem. It’s the grandiosity and faux humbleness that seem to work their way into those 160 characters. Bottom line: avoid claiming that you’re a guru, unless you actually run a spiritual retreat.

3. Be an expert.

Before you start writing, ask yourself, “Who am I talking to, and what do I need them to know?”

“Your Twitter bio should position you as an expert in your field who serves a specific audience,” says Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0 and Promote Yourself. “The objective is to position your personal brand so you’re using the right keywords and clearly showing what your focus is so people read it and know exactly what you do and whom you serve.”

Once you’ve figured out what your brand is, it’s easier to choose one-word descriptors that convey it — without either being too generic or falling into the humble-brag trap.

Tell Us What You Think

What does your Twitter bio say? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.