Participation in social networking venues also has become more pervasive in the wider culture. The Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that the share of adult Internet users who have a profile on an online social-network site has more then quadrupled since 2005 – from 8 percent that year to 35 percent as of December 2008.
Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter are key for job-seekers because they are considered destination sites for many Internet users, and Facebook and MySpace boast much more traffic than any job board.
As you might imagine, you can get quite caught up and lost in this world of social networking. Just completing and maintaining profiles at each site (not to mention keeping track of all your user names and passwords) could take up huge chunks of your time. If you want social media to boost your job search, you need to use it. You’ll want to maintain your networks, but get involved gradually and choose networking sites judiciously.
You’ll find that more and more books and articles are emerging that advise how to best use sites like LinkedIn and Facebook (including Jason Alba’s I’m on LinkedIn, Now What???, which we’ve reviewed). If services don’t already exist to help people craft their profiles, they soon will (just as such services exist for enhancing profiles for those doing online dating).
Start with the best known venues and see how well they work for you. Remember, though, that you must give them time to grow, and you must work at maintaining them — enriching your profiles, inviting friends, joining groups within networks, and more. Peter Weddle recommends 30 minutes of online networking twice a week. We recommend participating on LinkedIn and Twitter as a must. Job-seekers should then add one or both of the higher-traffic sites, Facebook and MySpace. Users of each venue tend to be fiercely loyal; MySpacers tend to dislike Facebook and vice versa. Our bias is toward Facebook, which feels a bit more professional than MySpace and is still on a growth trajectory.