I am not an expert in social media but I definitely agree that social media, particularly LinkedIn, should be a part of every job seeker’s tool box.
A recent article in The New York Times said that one of the most important questions a job seeker can ask these days is: How searchable am I? Now that is a change from even a few years ago.
Most employers these days continue to post job openings on their website or, for large companies, use sites like Monster.com or Indeed.com. But a growing number are searching solely online for the right candidate. If you don’t have an internet presence you won’t even be in the running for these jobs.
So which sites are important? I consider LinkedIn to be the most business-oriented, useful social media site. Think of it as the professional version of Facebook. I recommend LinkedIn for people looking for a job or changing careers.
In my opinion, the internet in general and social media in particular can be a time sink. Endless information and some fascinating detail but a time sink nonetheless! However I believe the time you invest in creating a strong and thorough LinkedIn profile – and then updating it weekly – is time well spent.
Here are some things to keep in mind about LinkedIn:
- It is full of business people, industry leaders, prospective employers and potential personal contacts for you. Translation: it’s a gold mine.
- You can have access to many contacts for free.
- If you join industry or interest groups, you will have access to the contact info on each of these members – even if they are not in your contact list. This expands your employment potential dramatically!
- LinkedIn is growing wildly, but is still very business-oriented. There are over 200 million active participants worldwide, including every Fortune 100 chief executive and most of their management team.
So, how do you make yourself known to such a rich audience? By taking the time to create a strong profile. This is some of what your LinkedIn profile should include:
- A professional looking photo – not you on the beach with sunglasses on your head or hair in your face. Prospective employers will look at your profile and will make judgments about your photo. Make it good.
- A well written title statement, professional summary, and well thought-out, concise descriptions of your work history.
- This may take a while to put together, but you don’t have to do it all at once. Take your time and add to it over time.
- Each time you make a change to your profile, your contacts will be notified by email each week. That puts your name top of mind. You want that.
- Don’t over-promote yourself – you know how tiresome that is to read in someone else.
- Look at the profiles of other people in your field. What can you learn from them?
- Testimonials from past business associates, colleagues. People do read these and it’s nice to see other people took the time to recommend your work.
- Recommendations of other people’s work. Givers gain. Write testimonials for other people.
- Several industry groups, especially the ones in which you’re interested in working. Group membership not only expands your contact potential, it can give you inside information that may be very useful during a personal interview.
- Your full resume, but make sure it’s in pdf format (so it can’t be changed online). And make sure it’s readable on a variety of mobile devices, including the tiny screen of a smart phone. More and more recruiters are looking at data via mobile devices
Finally, here’s some contact etiquette to consider:
- Take the time to build contacts thoughtfully – not just anyone and everyone. Choose people you know, like and trust.
- Connect with people you may not know but have met at a conference or in some other business situation.
- Get at least 100 connections. This is not hard to do and will give you credibility. It also keeps you in the loop about people and industry leaders you care about.
Social media is here to stay and will likely continue to grow. I’ve even opened a Twitter account but use it infrequently. Other professionals use it daily or even multiple times a day. How they have the time I don’t know. But look into it. It will likely work for you if you take the time to work it. But there’s that word again…time.
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