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Social Networking: A new tool for job seekers

March 21, 2011
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Social networking once referred to telling everyone you met, in person or over the phone, that you were looking for a job, but these days, social networking has gone digital, and its use is not limited to job seekers. Recruiters and employers are searching social networking media for info about you too, and they’re using the sites to recruit and to post jobs. So, what’s the best way for job hunters to use social media to find that dream job? Let’s start with the three most popular (digital) social networking tools: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Each of these can be used to market you and your professional skills and to serve as a means of getting introductions to new contacts and new companies.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn was designed for professional networking. Post your resume on LinkedIn and form connections with other members on LinkedIn. The software looks for commonalities between you and other LinkedIn members, and then asks you if you know “Bob Jonesmith”. If you do, then you’ll be asked if you want to make a connection with Bob. The initial connections typically arise from universities or colleges you’ve both attended, your profession itself, and companies you’ve both worked for. There’s no fee for this but you will not have full access to the database. Through those contacts, request introductions to their other contacts. You will have access to the job listings, and recruiters as well as employers can find your profile, and perhaps contact you to offer you a job!

On LinkedIn, having a lot of connections is a positive image to project, as is having many positive recommendations from your connections. A good way to get recommendations is to offer them. Be sure that your profile is up-to-date, and contains no information that you would not want the whole world to see. Since you want employers to find your profile, use keywords (and variations on them) that employers would use to search for you, and don’t just put these keywords in your profile, but in the specialties section and in your professional headline as well. Don’t forget to put your LinkedIn address on all your marketing materials – business cards, website, flyers – everywhere you market your skills or business.

A great way to increase your visibility to employers and colleagues, and increase your number of contacts is to join one or more groups on LinkedIn. Look for groups interested in areas that interest you, such as professional associations and special interest groups like ‘audiology marketing’.

You can also search for specific companies of interest, and then see if someone who works at a target company is connected, even distantly, to someone you know. Then ask for an introduction or at least, request the name of the person in the company to whom you should send your resume.

For a monthly fee, you can view the profiles of millions of people worldwide. Use LinkedIn’s Inmail to send emails to your LinkedIn contacts. LinkedIn will automatically notify you if your contacts’ LinkedIn profiles have been changed in any way, and vice versa. If you have a blog link, or if you ‘tweet’ (send brief messages via Twitter), you can link these to your LinkedIn account too. All of your contacts will then receive automatic blog updates or see your tweets. For more info, go to www.linkedin.com.

Twitter

Twitter is a microblogging and social networking service. Twitter can be used to connect you to people you don’t already know, but who share a common interest, such as, for example, autism, cochlear implants, or stuttering. Your messages, called ‘tweets’, are limited to no more than 140 characters per message. You have to create an address for yourself, such as @yourname, and other tweeters will need to choose to become your ‘followers’, so that they’ll receive your tweets. You can also ‘follow’ other Twitter users as well of course. Your tweets will appear on your profile page on twitter.com, and, although all tweets are public by default, you can restrict them to be sent only to your ‘followers’. You can use Twitter to search for people’s biographical information and to find out more about companies of interest, and then tweet to people who work for those companies. For best results, tweet regularly, and keep making references to your job hunt in your tweets, as this will remind people that you’re open to job opportunities. Initiate contact with new people and ask them if they know of any jobs in your field of interest. Tweets can be sent and received through the Twitter website, via smartphones or via SMS on a basic cell phone. Go to www.twitter.com to sign up, and look on Wikipedia for more information about Twitter.

Facebook

Facebook is primarily for personal rather than professional networking, but it can still be used to let your friends and their friends know that you are looking for work. In addition to blog posts, you can write a ‘note’ and a ‘status update’ in Facebook because these are more readily accessible than blog postings, which may have to be scrolled through to find the same information. To get your message out there even faster, include a friend’s name in your blog post, and then add a tag to the friend’s name. Your friend’s friends will then receive your message, increasing the likelihood that someone (a friend of a friend of a friend) may know of a job that’s available. There’s no fee to join Facebook. For more info, go to www.facebook.com.

Use social networking but use it carefully

During recessions, when work is often hard to find, it’s important to try every means possible to find a job, and these three social networking tools can help you succeed in finding work. Beware, however, that whatever you write in the digital media will be accessible to the general public, which includes employers and recruiters. If there is information about you, your lifestyle, friends, hobbies, or exploits that you would not want an employer to know about, then think twice about putting the info ‘out there’ in cyberspace. These days, employers research you ‘online’ to find out what you may not want them to know. Some employers are even demanding applicants’ Facebook usernames and passwords! Don’t despair. If you use social networking media carefully, the only info employers will discover is that you are the right employee for their needs.