Everyone says that networking is the best way to get a job. I agree. And social media is a critical part of networking in today's job market. Here are the ones my clients find most useful:
1) LinkedIn. Your profile is critically important to your search.
Recruiters use LinkedIn so much these days. LinkedIn actively markets its search capacity to recruiters inside and external to companies. Using specific criteria and key words, a recruiter can narrow the pool of potential candidates from thousands to 20 or 30 people who most closely meet the employer's needs.
If you know what you want to do, makes sure your profile reflects this. Use key words that match:
* your core skills and abilities
* the impact you've had
* your special expertise including language skills or global experience
* relevant certifications (LinkedIn just added that area to profiles)
* charitable work
- basically anything that makes you stand out.
To know what key words are in vogue, read as many job descriptions as you can for jobs you might like, and pick out the phrases and words from the "Responsibilities" and "Qualifications" sections. Include those words and phrases in your profile.
NOTE: make sure your LinkedIn profile matches your resume in every respect. ANY misalignment can be read as lack of integrity by a recruiter or employer.
Recommendations are essential for a complete LinkedIn profile. There is some consensus that these are valuable "soft references" even though it's clear that you'll only put up positive ones. The reality is that if enough people say enough of the same kind of things about you, it's likely to be accurate. The general idea is "if it walks, talks and acts like a duck...chances are it's a duck."
2. Facebook. Facebook is a double-edged sword, in my opinion.
Most people use Facebook for personal connections - old high school and college buddies, far-flung family and friends, etc. That makes it a great place to do personal networking - telling your network that you are looking for your "right fit" job. Periodically post what you're looking for, updates on your job search, and ask for specific help ("does anyone know someone who works at this target company?").
Because it's such a personal networking site, I believe the best kind of Facebook profile is a private one, where you are circumspect about what you put up. There are true stories of people who didn't get jobs because of Facebook content, and there is growing concern that advertisers and enterprising people can get to your Facebook profile despite privacy settings. So make sure you would be proud to show your boss anything that is on Facebook. Delete possibly damaging posts and pictures. Start an account that is purely personal under a nickname if you must put up random, odd, or questionable things.
I'm aware that there are a lot of entrepreneurs and companies who are using Facebook to promote their businesses, using the business pages now available on Facebook. If you start your own business page, keep in mind that it is linked to your personal account, which makes it difficult to separate business and personal.
3. Google Profile. This emerging forum is gaining traction as Google moves farther into Facebook and Twitter-like applications (like Friend Connect and Buzz).
You need to control what is in your Google profile, because that profile will show up when any employer does a Google search for your name. I say "when" an employer does that search because they will do it as a part of their search process. It's quick, easy, costs no money, and captures a ton of information about you very quickly. They may do it before deciding to interview you or after they've seen you in person, as a reference check.
Google yourself and see what comes up. If you have a Google account, you might see at the bottom of the page your name and a profile link. Click on that and you can see what is in your profile and you can edit it. You also can search for http://www.google.com/profiles/YOURNAME and see what comes up. If you don't have a Google account, you might want to get one so you can create a profile.
4. Twitter. Twitter is definitely useful for job seekers and people navigating the world or work and careers, as a source of great current career and job search advice. I suggest as a rule to create an account with your own name; it's digital real estate and as such you should claim it.
Follow people who provide content you find useful. They may or may not follow you back; it doesn't matter. There are also some job posting services connected with Twitter including TweetMyJobs. you can find job postings by searching the hash tag #jobs, #tweetmyjobs and #jobangels.
If you post on Twitter, make sure you are tweeting professional-sounding messages. This is an amazingly public forum and you need to present yourself as someone who provides value, learns the "rules of the road" and abides by them.
These are the big social media forces today to be concerned with, as far as I can see from my work with clients and what's current in the blog and Twitter worlds.
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