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Social Networking to Get (or Lose) a Job

If you're about to complete your degree and looking to land a job after graduation, social networking can be a very useful tool to help you make the most of contacts both old and new who can help you find great employment prospects. But keep in mind that social networking requires consistency and professionalism in order to help ensure that your current or future employers are intrigued -- and not turned off -- by your online presence.


Create a consistent online presence

Many job seekers are now using social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn as companions for their resumes. Even if your profiles are not public, some parts of your page may be viewed through other connections, so it's important to maintain a consistent and professional presence on all social networking sites that is in line with the tone you want to set for your career. If you are pursuing a career in a rather conservative or high-profile industry, such as law, this becomes an even more important consideration.

  • Set user preferences and privacy settings to allow you to control the conversation on your social networking sites.
  • Make sure your employment and education experience listed on your social networking profiles is consistent with the information listed on your resume.
  • Write brief descriptions of your skills, strengths, and career goals on social networking profiles that closely align with the messaging on your resume.

Join discussion groups and professional circles

Many social networking sites offer professional groups for specific industries that are designed to encourage discussion and networking. Make the most of these tools by joining these groups on LinkedIn and Facebook and following industry groups on Twitter. You can find these groups by searching under keywords relevant to your industry, and by seeing which groups other peers in your industry are following.

  • Contribute positive and meaningful thoughts to conversations on industry group pages, and make sure other users can identify you.
  • Keep track of trends and industry chatter and add to the conversation with links to relevant articles and blog posts.
  • Start your own discussions about job searches within your industry.

Follow prospective employers

If you have a handful of companies or organizations that you know you would love working for, follow them on Twitter and connect with them on LinkedIn and Facebook. You can often find information about new initiatives the company is pursuing, which may be an indicator of upcoming hiring activity. Also be sure to follow industry discussions that they are a part of, and contribute meaningful thoughts to those discussions to help establish a name and reputation with that employer.


Be yourself -- but be professional

While social networking should be fun and can be a great way to maintain personal contacts as well as a professional circle, always be careful to consider who might see what you post. While not everything you post on sites like Facebook may be work related, it might be seen by someone who is affiliated with your industry. A good rule of thumb is to never post anything that you wouldn't be comfortable with your current or future employer seeing. Your level of casual commentary will vary depending on your industry, but if you think your employer might have a problem with it, they probably will. Always think this through before you post anything. Confidential company information should be kept in mind (and never posted online). Also, as much as you might dislike your current job or boss, never post disparaging comments about either on any social networking site. If you need to vent, do so privately, perhaps to someone who can never repeat it (like your cat). A faster road to getting fired is hard to find than publicly insulting your employer, no matter how much you think they deserve it.


Monitor your privacy settings

As diligently as you may try to keep your social networking profiles completely professional, you cannot control all the actions of every contact in your network. So, be sure to set your privacy settings in such a way as to manage who can post on your profile and what they can post. If you know that your Aunt Betty would post every embarrassing photo of you that she can find as soon as she figures out what a scanner can do, block her from posting on your profile (or, at the very least, set your preferences to ask you for approval of everything that your contacts attempt to post before it appears on your page). Even if you don't post it, if it appears on your profile it becomes a reflection of you by association, like it or not.


Put the word out

If you're looking for a job, let people know! Social networking is a great way to put the word out about your job search.

  • Post regular updates about your skills and the kind of work you are looking for, but don't saturate your contacts with daily pleas for job leads.
  • Keep it positive. The best way to get a job is to already have one (or at least have some leads). It makes you look like a desirable employee prospect. If you have some great leads, celebrate them in your social networking profiles, but don't brag and never make it sound like you have a job in the bag when you don't. Doing so can backfire and keep you from landing a job you would have otherwise claimed if the potential employer catches wind of your bravado. In other words, do post how delighted you were to interview with a particular company; don't post how excited you are for your first day of work with them (unless you've officially been offered and accepted a job).

Don't social network on the company dollar

If you already have a job and you're looking for a new one, keep your networking activity on your own time. You also will want to tightly monitor your privacy settings and go about your networking activity very strategically to make sure your current employer does not find out that you are looking for a new job -- unless you want them to know. If they do find out you are looking around, it may lead to a conversation about why you're unhappy (which could be a good thing). But if they find out that you are looking for a new job and doing the looking on their time and their computer, you may be out of a job sooner than you'd planned on.


Give back

Give first and then you'll receive. It's a good motto for social networking for job seekers. Regularly extend a helping hand to introduce other peers to contacts who may be able to help them and they are likely to do the same for you. If you know a contact is looking for work, give them a shout out on your profile. They might return the favor, thus increasing the reach of your job-seeking message instantly. This is a good argument for making sure your social network includes plenty of contacts who are in your general industry but do not compete directly with you for the same jobs. These contacts are highly mutually beneficial because you can both suggest networking contacts that will help each other out without worrying that they will take a potential job out from under you.


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