A look at how social networking can help or hurt your job search
By Claudine Vainrub, MBA
Can social networks help you find job opportunities? The answer is a definite “Yes!” However, depending on your approach, social networks can also harm your job search process. There are many things to consider when meeting professionals online, garnering opportunities and presenting yourself as a candidate.
Getting access to optimum job opportunities when you are a job seeker largely depends on the places you search for them. It is vital then, to choose the right sources for finding jobs, or else it becomes increasingly difficult to come across career opportunities that suit your specific skill sets. One of the foremost tools used today for finding jobs is social networking. According to experts, about 80% of jobs are found today is through social networking sites.
Social networking sites can help you to find that dream job by bringing you closer to employers, recruiters and other job sources. This can mean encountering some of the best opportunities to meet the right people at the right place and the right time. Many times, when you search for a job posting in a job board, you can also have a hard time differentiating yourself from other candidates. You might also find it hard to identify postings that suit your specific skill sets. This is because most job requirements in job boards are not too specific, general in natural. This issue is solved through social networking sites.
Social networking sites are the places to find hidden job offers that don’t surface in your regular job boards. This is why social networking sites are more popular as they help employers to get across to candidates they would normally not have come across through other means of recruitment.
The main benefit in using social networks for job search is that you can post information about yourself and do it in an interactive way, to bring out the best that you know to the people looking out for your services. It is an informal presentation of your skills and experience to a prospective employer. Both beginners in the job market and experienced professionals could find social networking sites to work out for them.
Using social networks for job search, is not as cumbersome a process for job searching as sending in your resume, facing an interview, doing a test and in short going through the whole recruitment circle. When networking online, you might find you gained a head start by letting the recruiter learn about you and get interested in your profile. This is a big part of the battle – winning that “personal brand recognition.” You have one foot in the door.
If you are a professional with a specialized skill set, using social networks is the best way to find a job that requires your talents. There are social networks specifically available for certain kinds of professionals in specific industries. For example if you are a professional photographer, you would want to join flickr.com. When using social network sites for job search, take care to put in references as this gets you noticed quickly.
The drawback to using social network sites can be that your personal and professional information is accessed by random individuals. However, there are privacy settings in each site that you can use to protect yourself. Once you register, the networking process takes a while even if you are actively putting yourself out there. This can be a problem for the job seeker in a hurry, you may find this process too slow and passive for your needs.
Since the meetings in social networking sites are informal in nature, make sure to stand out by being very professional and making the best impression from the get-go. Some job seekers fail to read on this point and when they become informal, they risk losing opportunities for productive networking. A professional and formal online identity and behavior is essential when participating in LinkedIn, and even Facebook. Be aware of this before joining a social network – if you are looking for a job, refrain from having an un-professional online brand.
For social networking to show you the best results, you should be informed on which sites to register with, which ones you will gain most benefit from. Some of the most popular social networks that can take you across to the right employers are Linked.com, MySpace.com, Facebook.com, Plaxo.com, Meetup.com and Orkut.com.
So, what are you waiting for? Put forward your most professional image, achieve the process with formality and energy, get empowered to communicate effectively. Complete the registration process, and start getting closer to your aspirations of achieving a successful career move.