Latest update: December 31st, 2012
How important is social media to my job search? The Internet has revolutionized the job search process. As recently as 10 years ago, a job search entailed looking through newspaper ads and phonebooks to find appropriate organizations and employers, producing dozens of copies of a resume and cover letter on professional resume paper, stuffing those documents in matching envelopes and paying for postage. It is safe to say that it cost at least $1 for every resume sent, not to mention the investment in time.
Things are very different today. Instead of mailing resumes to prospective employers listed in newspaper job advertisements, job seekers can search for opportunities online and send their resume to dozens of employers with the click of a button.
While that has certainly made the application process easier and cheaper, it also makes the process much more competitive. People were less likely to send a long-shot resume to an employer when it cost them time and money to do so. Given the ease and lack of expense in the process now, employers are inundated with resumes for every job opening.
In response to the deluge, most major corporations and companies have created a more complicated application process which requires submitting answers to a long series of questions in order to weed out applicants who are less than completely interested.
However, a site visit by a Touro Career Services staff member to the Google offices in New York last July revealed that Google receives more than 3,000 resumes a day, every day of the year! That’s more than 1 million resumes a year, even with the longer application process!
It’s extremely difficult to make your resume stand out, no matter how well produced when it is competing with millions of others. That’s one reason networking is more important than ever before. A well respected person on the inside who can pass your resume to the appropriate person can go a long way to making sure it receives a real review.
In addition to the job application process, the Internet has drastically changed the networking process. While it is still true that nothing beats a face-to-face meeting, the Internet has opened up a new world of networking possibilities.
Primary among those possibilities are the networking websites. There are dozens of networking websites available. For the purposes of job search networking, it is important to divide these sites into two categories; professional networking sites and social networking sites.
Professional Networking Sites
Over the last few years, professional networking sites have become a powerful job search tool. Many have argued that an account on LinkedIn, the most popular professional networking site, is a basic requirement for all professionals.
These sites provide job seekers the dual opportunity to reveal their “hidden” connections (more on that later) and present their qualifications to a much wider audience than otherwise possible. Utilizing these resources, job seekers can bypass the human resources office and ensure that the people who make the hiring decisions see their credentials.
Employers pay very close attention to what job seekers include in their professional networking site profiles. It is essential that every component of your account and profile project a professional image. Remember: once something is posted online, it can never be fully retracted.
Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites generally have the largest memberships. While sites such as Facebook have largely been associated with children and young adults, the world of online social networking is beginning to change. More and more adults are starting to use these sites on a regular basis. Over the last few years, the largest increase in usage was by people over the age of 34.
Seizing the opportunity, employers have used social networking sites to recruit talented employees. Most major employers have Facebook pages and ad campaigns targeting their desired applicant pool.
Although social networking sites provide the opportunity to reach the widest audiences, their focus is not particularly conducive for professional networking. The very fact that these sites are an effective way to connect with friends and post pictures and pithy comments creates a relaxed atmosphere in which people tend to be less inhibited than in their professional lives.
Which Websites Should I Join?
There are so many professional and social networks available now, that trying to keep up with them all would be a full time job on its own. For the purposes of a job search, we recommend that you join two: LinkedIn and Twitter.
LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/
The best news is that you, the user, have complete control over what those employers find when they view your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn profiles also tend to rate very high in Google searches, giving you the opportunity to control your personal marketing message.
Significant thought and consideration should be put into creating a profile that maximizes your marketability. An appropriate profile is crucial for your success on LinkedIn. Do not start to publicize your account until you have created a workable profile.
LinkedIn is the best site for revealing hidden connections that you might not have known existed. For example, LinkedIn, via its three degrees of connections, can reveal that Dovid, a friend from your yeshiva days, knows a hiring manager at a company of interest to you. You can then contact Dovid, reminisce about the good old days, and then ask him to pass your resume to his contact at that company.
LinkedIn also provides a recruitment product to an employer that searches employee’s contact lists for contacts that meet certain search criteria. Those employees are then asked to rate their contact’s appropriateness for actual job openings. Thus, being connected to friends and acquaintances at major companies may open you up to job opportunities that have yet to be released to the public!
Twitter – https://twitter.com/
While Twitter is most commonly associated with Facebook and social networking websites, it is a powerful tool for job seekers. A well written, professional “Tweet” can announce your job search to a very large audience. Many professions have designated search words (know as hash-tags that place a “#” before designated words, e.g. #edchat) that direct Twitter users to the inside discussions on a particular topic. Often, designated times are set for Twitter chats, utilizing a specific hash-tag that brings together people of similar interests for discussion of particular topics. Engaging in those conversations and using the appropriate hash-tags can garner attention from a wide array of professionals in your field.
Be careful when using Twitter for professional networking purposes. A unique Twitter account (usually consisting of your name) should be created for the purposes of your job search. Make sure that ALL your Tweets are of a professional nature. If you would like to send out Tweets of a non-professional nature, establish a secondary Twitter account using a username for that purpose.
A Final Warning
Because of their marketing campaigns targeted for prospective employees, Facebook can be a great way to identify new job opportunities. It is OK from a career standpoint to have accounts on other social networking sites, like Facebook, but be very careful what you post. You must consider anything you post anywhere online as public knowledge (Facebook pages also receive a very high ranking in Google searches).
People have a tendency to let their guard down on social networking sites. Things that may seem to be innocuous or funny can come back to haunt you. Once something is posted, it can never be fully removed. If you would not be comfortable having your post or picture as the headline in the New York Times, do NOT post it online.
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