In today's job market, many people are looking for new ways to find employment. One of the most powerful tools that you can use when searching for work is social networking. Many people have successfully used social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to land a new job or just to expand their professional network, which created new business opportunities for them down the line. Here are a few things for you to consider if you are in the job market and want to use social networking to improve your chances of finding employment.
Have an online identity
Chances are, you already have one. However, do your profiles on various social networking sites and blogs contain the kind of information that can help you advance professionally? Do all your contacts know what it is that you do? If the answer is no and you are on the market for a new job, you need to make it easy for them. Provide all the relevant information in your profiles. If you want to step it up a notch, you can create a personal website, too. With some of the tools that are out there today, sites are incredibly easy to set up and investing some time in them can lead to opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available to you.
Consider writing a blog. Professional blogs build credibility and they make it easy for people to find you when they are using the search engines to look for someone with your particular set of skills (for more on this see: Forget LinkedIn Profiles - What Your Career Really Needs Is....). This in turn can lead to freelance opportunities. Even if you are not interested in committing to the life of a contractor, the occasional job here and there can only make your resume look better.
Talk to your friends
Although you may feel uncomfortable using social sites to directly approach employers in search of a job, there is nothing wrong with doing a little bit of networking with your personal friends and family members. Send out a message to your friends and tell them that you are looking for employment. If you have something specific in mind, mention it in the message. You never know which one of your contacts will be aware of a particular job opportunity that they can tell you about.
Companies have been using LinkedIn to look for passive job candidates for years. One of the greatest advantages the LinkedIn network has for company recruiters are employee referrals, which usually have a high success rate and are valued by companies for this reason. If you're looking for a job and want to use social networking, LinkedIn is one of the best tools that you can use, even if it is often overlooked as a social media site because it is not quite as popular as Facebook or Twitter.
LinkedIn has more of an emphasis on professional experience in developing networks. You can develop relationships with people in your chosen industry, and get to know them. You can set up a profile and list information about your work experience. It is essential that you use the relevant keywords in your profile: the list of skills, qualifications, and names of the companies you worked for in the past. Without the searchable terms in your work history, recruiters will have a hard time finding you.
Once you are signed up, you can connect with the people you know and get recommendations from past and present co-workers. These can make a lot of difference with recruiters.
You can also join groups on the site. In the groups, you have the ability to interact with other people who are interested in some of the same things as you. This gives you the chance to get to know people and to provide something of value to the groups. In turn, you could get invaluable information about companies that are hiring, about company cultures, and employee experiences first-hand.
You can also use the LinkedIn Jobs section to look for vacancies by keyword and location. If you just want to find out which companies in your area employ people with professional experience similar to yours, you can search profiles by zip code using the terms that describe your skills.
When it comes to job hunting, Facebook is more than just the social network where a prospective employer can find embarrassing status updates and photos. If you have built a network of friends, Facebook is an excellent tool to send out a message that you are looking for a new job. Even if they haven’t heard of any specific openings, your friends might point you in the right direction or give you useful advice on dealing with unemployment and finding opportunities in a related field, among other things.
If there is a specific company you would like to work for, you can find its official Facebook page or group – most companies have at least one of the two – and inquire about opportunities in your area. Even if there are none, company pages are a good place to find new business contacts and expand your professional network. Invest a few minutes each day in interacting with others on Facebook: share your knowledge, post interesting links and talk to people who are already employed by the company to see what their experiences are and if the place is as good a fit as you think.
Needless to say, when you are actively pursuing companies on Facebook, interacting with hiring managers, or applying for jobs and meeting with recruiters, you should probably cloak your profile and untag yourself from any party pictures that might give the wrong impression to a complete stranger. Not all employers screen job candidates on social sites, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Twitter may not be the most obvious tool for job hunting, but it has one notable advantage over Facebook in that it allows you to interact with people you don’t know and to follow their updates. You can find people who share your interests or work at companies you are interested in joining by doing a keyword search. You can also follow company profiles for updates and find recruiters who are using the medium to post job openings. If you are using Twitter, don’t forget to link to your website, blog, or LinkedIn profile, where recruiters can find more information about your work history and experience.
Link to your resume or portfolio
Developing an online resume site for a portfolio can be a good way to get information about yourself out to those who need it. If you take the time to build a portfolio site, link to it from your social networking profiles. All of the major social networking sites make it easy for you to include a link to your personal site from your profile. You can even send out messages occasionally with the URL to your site in them. This can be a good way to attract attention to what you bring to the table professionally. If you do a good job developing your personal site, it can make a big difference in the eyes of potential employers and it can even get you the occasional consulting or contractor role from people using Google to find someone with your skills in your zip code.
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