Using Social Media in the Job Search

Karen writes: I’ve been reading a lot about using social media in the job search. What’s your opinion of this approach? Is this the way to get a job these days?

The Career Doctor responds:
Social-media for job-seeking takes a lot of time and patience. Complete and compelling profiles are important. And you also need to strike a balance between the desire the build a huge network and the need to be discriminating.

Both Facebook and LinkedIn urge users to connect only with people they actually know. Some users follow those guidelines; some don’t. LinkedIn makes it especially difficult to connect with strangers. On the other hand virtually anyone can “follow” you on Twitter (unless you have blocks in place). Some venues have caps on the number of people you can connect with. Adding people to your network and making yourself easy to find online by employers is always going to be helpful and can be considered payoffs in themselves.

But it could take a long time to get a solid job lead or even a job which is why job-seekers should never rely on any kind of online job-hunting whether it’s responding to ads on job boards or hanging around social-networking venues. Sure those activities can and should be part of the job search but you’ll get a job much faster if you’re out there meeting people and asking for advice and referrals. I regularly hear about people getting jobs through social media — but I suspect that most of the people who do so are in the social-media and technology fields.

An important aspect on LinkedIn is recommendations. Employers take these really seriously. Experts debate whether it’s OK to ask your connections to write recommendations for you. Certainly one way to encourage them to do so is to write recommendations for them.

It is very easy to get swallowed into a time-sucking black hole with social networking. Developers have introduced tools for Twitter in particular to help manage one’s Twitter activities — various Web venues and desktop applications that enhance Twitter’s functionality. Again the user needs to strike a balance between exploring helpful tools and getting even more distracted and even more sucked into the black hole. Which leads to my top rule …

No. 1 Rule is to not spend time networking online at the expense of face-to-face networking. Yes online networking can enhance a job search and career visibility but face-to-face networking is far more effective. Peter Weddle of Weddle’s newsletter about Internet resources for job search and career recommends 30 minutes of online networking twice a week.

Follow the same rules as you would for face-to-face networking. Never ask for a job; ask for advice and referrals. Always thank your contacts for even the tiniest bit of help or advice. And OFFER help to your network contacts.

Be careful what you say or post in a social-networking group — unsavory photos vulgarity and even political and religious views can be risky.
Some resources:

Keep in mind also that things change rapidly in social media with job-search tools frequently added and subtracted from the various social-media venues.


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