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Like this article? We recommend Enter Social Networking

Enter Social Networking

We're living in the age of computers, so why not use technology to help with the job search? The following sections list some useful social networking sites and describe their features.

What not to post? Pictures of yourself drinking, scantily clad, brandishing weapons—basically, anything that's unflattering to you shouldn't be anywhere that a potential employer could see it. People have lost jobs and even degrees misusing these social sites. Exercise good judgment. If you already have content on any social networking site, make sure that it's cleaned up before you start your job search. Most employers these days use Google to do an informal background check before considering a candidate. Don't let them find anything that could eliminate you from consideration.

Twitter

Twitter answers the question, "What are you doing now?" in a short text-messaging format. You can post items—called tweets—about whatever interests you. You can also follow people. For example, I follow some of my recruiters. After all, I'm still looking for my next career. (Shameless plug: If you're an employer looking for a senior IT leader, post a comment and I'll follow up.)

Classmates.com

As the name implies, Classmates.com. allows you to reconnect to your high school or college classmates. It's a great site for setting up your next class reunion. Couldn't hurt expressing that you're looking for a job in a particular field, in case one of your old friends knows something about it.

Facebook

Facebook is great for reconnecting with friends, finding common interests, sharing photos, etc. Some people use Facebook for job searching, too.

MySpace

MySpace is more social-focused than business-focused. MySpace is Facebook for the younger set. Some businesses are adopting MySpace to relate to graduating college students. MySpace tends to have some inappropriate content, so watch out for that.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is designed for professional networking, which makes it my preference for use as a job-hunting site. I can't say enough good things about LinkedIn. It's the first place online that I go to bolster my social networking activities.

The following list describes how you can use several features of LinkedIn for your job search:

  • Profile. Use your LinkedIn profile as your online résumé, with optional photo. (Employers want to know how you look, so make it a nice shot—in a business suit or dress, if you have one.)
  • Within your profile, create a summary of what interests you. You should also list your specialties, the duties from your current or most recent job (at a minimum), and your education.
  • Additional Information. Beef up your profile by linking to appropriate websites and listing your hobbies, interests, honors and awards, certifications, and so on. You can also add applications that enable you to enrich your profile, share and collaborate with your network, and get key insights that help you to be more effective. You can even add personal information such as your phone number(s), address, IM handle, birthdate, and marital status. However, as a privacy advocate, I advise against adding personal information beyond what you'd list in your résumé.
  • Connections. This is essentially your contacts—people you know who have agreed to establish a relationship with you. I had a good list of connections in LinkedIn already, but in a short period of time I more than doubled my contacts, each of which is a potential link to a new job. The power of networking is amazing! Once you have connections, you can see their profiles, learn more about them, see their connections, and so on. You can only see the connections of someone if you're connected to him or her. For anyone deeper than one connection away, you either need to send an invitation, or be introduced by one of your connections.
  • Introductions. This feature lets you meet someone through someone you know. If you want to meet Dan, you can ask him directly to be a connection of yours. However, since Dan doesn't know you, he very likely will decline. A better method is to be introduced via LinkedIn. If one of your connections (let's call him Bob) already knows Dan, you can get introduced by submitting a form that goes to Bob, who can approve the form to send Dan an endorsement for you. If Dan trusts Bob, then Dan will probably trust you, and then you're all connected.
  • Inbox. Several of my friends have sent me leads via LinkedIn's Inbox feature. When someone sends you a message, it appears in your LinkedIn Inbox, as well as the email account that you've registered for LinkedIn. You can respond within LinkedIn or from your personal/business email account.
  • Recommendations. I have more than a half-dozen of these "ready to go" references on my LinkedIn profile. Potential employers can read references about me before even having to make any calls. Those are solid endorsements! The hiring team can check out my references to ensure that they have a good potential "fit" before even conducting the interview. It saves their time and mine. It might mean fewer interviews, but when you do interview with someone who has already checked out your references, you have a much better chance of making serious progress through the hiring process.
  • Groups and Associations. Use these online communities within LinkedIn to interact with peers from various fronts—school, fraternity, business topics, technology committees, etc. By visiting your profile, someone can see that you belong to these groups, but the best use of these groups is signing up for weekly email messages to get more information about the topics being discussed in the groups. You can also post your own questions to get feedback.
  • Email Updates. In your LinkedIn profile, you can post a message about what you're working on now, updating it periodically to keep your connections informed. For example, I posted that I had passed the PMP certification. Periodically (approximately weekly), LinkedIn sends everyone in your network an email message about updates that your connections have made to their profiles. The message might say, "Andy Roddick has added a new photo," or "Pete Sampras is now connected to Boris Becker." In my case, it said, "Greg just passed his PMP (Project Management Professional) certification." Within an hour, I received a message from one of my connections indicating that his company was hiring new project managers, and would I be interested in interviewing for one of the positions? Of course I would! That's the power of networking being demonstrated again.
  • Blogs. InformIT's blog posts page is a great example of a blog site to check out technology topics and purchase books that support the topics being discussed. There are many blog spots online where you can talk about what you know, leading to prospective jobs.
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