These are my thoughts in response to a reporter’s request back in December for “social networking experts and real-life folks who can offer insights (and hopefully stats) about how social networking can help in a job search.” Thought I’d share:
I think social networks are increasingly becoming an essential career tool. We’ve heard all about the dangers social networks pose to your employment prospects but when used strategically as a career tool, they can provide you with a definite advantage in the marketplace.
- The more you give, the more you get. By filling out as much of your profile as possible at sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, you can demonstrate your experience and expertise. The more information you provide, the more connections you create. By filling out all of your applicable employers, you are creating a potential connection with everyone within that network who works or worked for your former employer. By filling out all of the schools you attended, you are creating a potential connection with anyone who also attended that school.
The more connections you have, the more likely it is that you’ll find someone or something in common with a potential employer or the person with whom you’ll be interviewing.
- By using the sophisticated search functions of most social networks, you can use them to research potential employers. You can find current and former employees of a given company and find out first hand what it’s like to work there. You can get a better sense of who you’d be working with. You can research your interviewer and see what you have in common or what mutual acquaintances you have.
- Recruiters use social networks heavily. By exposing yourself to them through social networks, you increase your opportunities exponentially.
- Who you know. By building your friends list with people who work within your industry, you are creating more chances that a potential employer will know one of your friends. The fact that someone is on your friends list is an implied endorsement of you; you gain prestige by that association. Try and find ways to create a connection with industry leaders.
- Social networks are a superb expert positioning tool. Through the use of the status update, you can demonstrate your expertise to your own network and to anyone who peruses your profile. Use the status update to showcase your knowledge by sharing thoughts about the industry, for example. Through Facebook’s Share A Link function, share articles that show you’re on top of your given field. Include books on your profile that show you’re reading the latest material within your industry. Participate in groups by sharing information and answering questions that demonstrate your expertise. Use LinkedIn’s Answers function to show off your knowledge. If you have a blog about your industry, include your RSS feed or share links to your blog that demonstrate your knowledge.
- But don’t be self-promotional 100% of the time. Take the attitude of trying to be helpful by sharing your knowledge and your expertise will shine through.
- Announce to your network that you’re in the market for a job, if appropriate. Your friends will likely keep that in mind and send opportunities your way.
- It is best to have your network in place before you need to use it for finding a job. Social networks are great relationship-building tools and relationships are a two-way street: You give and you receive. If you establish yourself as a valuable member of that community and a valuable “friend”, your network is far more likely to pay dividends once you ask for help. And people are far more likely to remember you and refer people to you, regardless of whether or not you ask.
- I believe the social networks that you bring to an employer–especially in “relationship” professions like public relations and journalism–will increasingly be seen as added value that you can bring to a company and will therefore make you a more attractive candidate than others.
This Computer World article has some good stats on how employers are using social networks: