by Lisa McGrimmon
Learn to manage your online professional social network with effective strategies that will help you make the best use of the time you spend job searching and career building with sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
It doesn't take much research to discover hundreds of strategies for developing an online social network for your job search.
However, you don't need hundreds of strategies. That's nothing more than a huge drain on your time and not all that helpful.
You need just a few strategies that really work so you're left with time to pursue other important and effective job search techniques.
That's what you'll find on this page!
Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be a useful facet of a larger set of job search strategies that you use to find advertised and unadvertised job opportunities.
These sites can provide opportunities to:
You may already be using sites like Facebook or Twitter for personal social networking. A few simple changes will help you to use these sites to develop a professional social network as well.
Ensure a potential employer or someone who might forward job leads to you can access basic information about your professional background through your Facebook and Twitter profiles.
You won't be able to convey your full professional background on these two sites, but do fill out the sections about yourself with potential employers in mind.
You are allowed to link to other sites from both your Facebook profile and your Twitter profile. This is a great opportunity to link to your LinkedIn profile. If you've spent time developing a good LinkedIn profile, it will be a good source of detailed information about your professional background that employers can review in a format that they are accustomed to viewing.
It is wise to like or friend Facebook business pages or personal pages for organizations that are relevant to your career, or follow those organizations on Twitter.
Becoming a part of their online social network helps you to build rapport with people in your industry who you may not know and learn inside information that you might not have access to.
Be sure to grow your professional social network in a genuine way. Avoid friending, following or liking every group that comes along. Your Facebook home page and Twitter feed can quickly become too busy to manage, and you can miss important posts amid all the noise.
Instead, be choosy and friend or follow groups that are leaders in your industry and groups that you already have a connection with such as university or college alumni groups, professional associations, community groups and companies in your industry that are of interest to you.
When you leave a job, or graduate from school, it can be easy to lose track of people who have the potential to become a powerful part of your professional social network. Sites like Facebook provide an excellent opportunity to keep in touch with people you might otherwise lose touch with.
Make a point of friending colleagues or classmates who may help you develop your career.
As with all forms of networking (online and face to face), be authentic in your relationships with your colleagues.
Do not be the person who only talks to people when you need something.
Nurture your professional social network. Make friendly comments when colleagues post comments that you find interesting, and help them out whenever you can.
The key to developing an active professional social network lies in building relationships that allow you to help and be helped.
Whether you are writing a resume and cover letter to apply for a job, or preparing for an interview, research is crucial to help you focus on addressing the employer's needs.
Visiting a company's website is a very easy first step in researching a company, but a company's Facebook page or Twitter feed often contains more personal and detailed information about their company culture and current projects and events that can give you the extra bit of information you need to stand out from other job seekers.
Following industry leaders on social networking sites can help you to keep in touch with, and be the first to know about, important events in your industry that may affect your job search.
You may learn about developments or growth within a company that gives you clues that they may be hiring, discover important developments and trends in your industry that you should be able to discuss intelligently in a job interview, or realize important new skills that you should develop to become more competitive and marketable in your field.
Some employers are moving toward promoting job openings on Twitter or Facebook instead of using popular job posting sites to advertise jobs openings. It's worth keeping an eye open for these types of opportunities.
It costs money for employers to post job ads on big job posting websites, whereas Facebook and Twitter are free and they reach a somewhat targeted audience of people who are already interested enough in their company to follow their posts on either site.
Often employers will mention on Facebook and/or Twitter that they have a specific opening in their organization, then they will provide a link to a more detailed job ad on their company website.
If you friend/like (Facebook) or follow (Twitter) local companies that interest you, you won't miss out on postings like this.
Also, there are services and Twitter feeds that specialize in finding job leads on Twitter. If you consider using this type of service, do be careful to assess the value it provides. Ensure that it is providing enough valuable job leads to make it worth the time it takes to review all of the information you have to pour through.
These services, in my opinion, have the potential to create busy work that takes you away from more helpful job search strategies. So do be careful that searching for jobs on Twitter does not become an unproductive drain on your time.
When you participate in any social media network, be sure to review the posts you make, any posts you have made in the past, and any posts or pictures you may be tagged in by others to ensure they present an appropriate image of you as a professional person.
If a post could hurt your professional image, don't post it, delete it if you've already posted it, or ask your friend to delete it if you can't do so yourself.
You may think you don't have to worry about your online professional image because you have your Facebook or Twitter privacy settings set so that only friends can see your activity. Remember, though, your Facebook and Twitter friends and followers are the people who are likely to pass along good job leads to you if you are doing smart career networking.
If those people only know you as an acquaintance, or if Facebook or Twitter are the only places where you interact with them, then your posts will shape their opinion of you and influence whether they are willing to pass along job leads to you.
When you are posting on any social media network, be the kind of person an employer would want to hire, and be the kind of person an acquaintance would want to recommend for a great job opportunity.
While it can be worthwhile to devote a little bit of time to developing a professional social network for job searching and career development, You do need to ensure it does not take over and become all that you do to job search.
The Internet is a compelling tool, and when you are job searching, you can easily get pulled into spending hours on social media and other job search sites.
Job searching on the Internet can feel less frightening to people who are nervous about face to face networking, so it's easy to spend hours job searching online while avoiding other, extremely important and effective job search strategies.
Do not fool yourself. Just because you are busy (job searching online for hours) does not necessarily mean you are being productive (using effective job search strategies, including those that make you stretch beyond your comfort zone).
It is worthwhile to spend a little time building an online professional social network, but do not make it the only job search strategy you use.
In an attempt to include every possible strategy for using social media networks for job searching, some writers present ideas that are not practical for the vast majority of job seekers.
Here are a few strategies that you may have read that are useful for a few job seekers in specific situations, but are usually not all that productive for most job seekers:
Becoming Involved in an Enormous Number Social Media Networking Sites
You may come across articles about the top 50 social networking sites for job searching. You really do not need 50 social networking sites for job searching.
I would argue that exploring 50 social networking site would hurt, not help, most job searches because it is not likely to yield results for most people and it will take time away from pursuing more useful job search strategies.
Many people will benefit from building online professional social networks in the big three social networking sites: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If there is a smaller, niche social networking site that is highly relevant to your industry, you may want to develop a presence there, but do ensure you are being productive, not just busy.
Blogging, Posting Your Own Videos on YouTube, or Creating Your Own Website
Creating a web presence beyond the social media networks you participate in takes a lot of time and effort if you are going to do it well. And if you are doing it to attract employers, you need to do it well.
This is another strategy that is often recommended by people who call themselves experts, but, in my opinion, it really is not a good use of time for most job seekers.
If you happen to work in an industry where showcasing a portfolio your work online is helpful, then do consider creating an online presence. A graphic designer may benefit from creating a site that shows his or her best work, and accountant probably will not.
Also, keep in mind, websites that showcase your work are usually most useful for people who are self employed and/or looking for freelance work. So a self employed accountant would be wise to develop a website, but an accountant looking for traditional employment probably would not benefit from creating a professional website.
Do be aware that it takes a lot of time to build a professional website or create a great video, and blogging well is a bigger commitment than most people realize. This strategy, while useful for a few job seekers, is not worth the amount of time required to do it well for most job seekers.
An online professional social network can be one helpful job search strategy among several that you use.
Be smart about the way you use your time, committing only to sites and strategies that have a good chance of providing results and don't take away too much time from other job search strategies.
Build your professional social network in authentic ways, nurture your network by participating in conversations online, and consider the image you are portraying to potential employers and people who may have good job leads each time you make a new post.