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 Are You Social Networking?

By Joe Stein

The Internet is such an amazing communication tool that if, you blink, you just may miss out on whatever is the latest craze. Just as “surfing” and “downloading” became common language vernacular, one of the latest to catch fire is using “Social Networking” in your job search.
 
In most any position nowadays, a familiarity with technology is important to not only the success of your job search, but also to your performance on the job. This is no different than in our personal lives where online shopping and banking are becoming the norm.  A savvy job seeker is therefore in tune with whatever tools can assist him or her in the job search.
 
There are a number of Social Networking sites, including LinkedIn, Plaxo, ZoomInfo, Jigsaw, and Facebook.  LinkedIn is probably the most popular of the networking sites for career networking. How it works is: you will post your profile on the site, you will then reach out to people and invite them to “link” their profile, or you will receive e-mails requesting that you “link” with their profile. This linking allows you access to their network, therefore greatly expanding your scope of individuals within your circle.   Profiles are easily searchable, allowing you to focus on those that can most help you in your job search. 
 
Maintaining a Social Network profile has several advantages for a Job Seeker:
 
  • These websites provide an easy connection for Recruiters to you, so the value goes beyond just networking from colleagues for leads. Social Networking sites allow Recruiters to quickly search for qualified candidates to be placed in contact with those interested. It also allows you to multiply your network quickly. Although it is not a substitute for “old fashioned” in-person and phone call networking, it can allow you to reach out to a larger group faster. A recent Society of Human Resource Management report indicates that approximately 1/3rd of staffing professionals use social networking sites in their recruiting efforts.
     
  • The creation of a Social Networking Profile allows you to present your expertise when describing yourself. Your profile should summarize your skills and knowledge to draw networking partners and also to differentiate you from the competition. Displaying your skills and experience will also allow like-minded individuals to connect with you.
 
  • Your profile can also provide the Recruiter with a snapshot of your written communication skills and career areas of interest. The ability to communicate is so essential in today’s information age. A well-written profile allows you to go beyond your Cover Letter and Resume to display your written communication skills.
 
  • It is easy to create a profile. For a user, minimal computer skills are necessary to create a professional profile. Creating a profile also does not take much time, most likely less than an hour.
 
Some simple tips to keep in mind:
 
  • Your profile is visible. Even if you delete or edit a post, people may have read it and possibly drawn a conclusion from it. There also may be an archive of it somewhere on the information superhighway. The motto is: if you do not want it to exist forever, then don’t write it.
 
  • If your profile is career orientated, make sure it is technically accurate and current. The last thing you want to do, if you are directing Recruiters to your site, is have information that is wrong or outdated.
 
  • Manage your time with Social Networking sites. It is very easy for your Social Networking duties to consume a significant portion of your time. Budget how much time you want to apportion for Social Networking and stick with that number so that you can maintain a diversified job search. Your time expended has a specific value attached to it. Make sure your Social Networking is reaping a return on investment. Be careful not to be drawn into purely focusing on the “social” aspect and not the “networking”.
 
  • Networking is a “numbers game”. Smartly expand your social group with individuals who may be able to provide you with career leads. Focus should be placed on people in your career field and industry along with anyone who works for a company you are interested in joining.
 
  • The networking world should be both a “give” and a “get”. The relationship in networking should be mutually beneficial. If you learn of leads that are not of use for you personally, then you are expected to share. If you develop a reputation as only a “taker” you will find your networking hits will become limited.
 
  • Don’t forget other online networking avenues such as Alumni Associations, Professional Organizations, etc. If you are job searching, then consider having your contact information and/or profile in their directory.
 
  • If you are going to “social network” during work hours, then know your company’s Electronic Communication Policy towards this activity. If your networking is purely for job search purposes, then perform this activity during non-work hours. 
There are some potential negatives of having a blog if you are undergoing a job search:
 
  • Your prospective employer may do an unsolicited Internet search to see if they can discover any information about you. It is a way for them to gain information about you beyond just a resume or an interview. This is why you do not want to have a profile that portrays your persona outside of work in what an employer would perceive as a negative light. If you have a profile that is of this more personal nature, consider removing it during your job search and certainly do not provide a link on your Resume or Cover Letter. Keep in mind that, based on the permanency of what is on the Internet, your personal profile may still be accessible to an unsolicited search by a prospective employer. My recommendation is to never place anything on the Internet that will hamper your career both in the present and in the future.
     
  • Your current employer may find your profile, especially if it is on a main website used by Recruiters.  A profile devoted to your search works great if you are unemployed, since you do not have the risk of a current employer discovering your site. If you are gainfully employed, you may want to be cautious regarding how overt you are with your job search on your profile.
 
  • Successful social networking requires a person to engage with others. A shy or introverted individual will need to suppress their natural desire to not interact with others.
A savvy Job Seeker is current with technology and is not afraid to use their written communication skills, their career expertise, and their professionalism to create a Social Networking profile that will assist them in their career search.
 
 
As always, best of luck in your job search.