| January 3, 2013

Are you looking at the beginning of a new year as an opportunity to jump-start your career? Let’s be honest, looking for a job IS a full time job. Where do you even start?

Company websites, career counselors, job search engines …oh my! Why not start with what you know: social media. I did.

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When I was looking to take the next step in my career, I started by polishing up my LinkedIn profile, following companies’ HR departments on Twitter, and of course…tightening up my Facebook privacy settings. These social media platforms are basically a way to advertise yourself—so take advantage! Here are a couple of tips on taking your job search to the social level.

Sign up for LinkedIn

As career consultant Lindsey Pollak says, LinkedIn is an online resume, networking conference, and job fair all rolled into one. It’s entirely professional; in other words, it’s not Facebook. So if you’re not a member, become one. If you are, spend some time on it and explore all of its capabilities.  Attorney Daliah Saper, who specializes in social media, explains that LinkedIn is the perfect outlet to manage your overall reputation and build your personal brand. Here are some important things to know when it comes to LinkedIn:

  • Connect with people you know
    People you know can be your biggest allies. Pollak insists that you can’t be shy about asking for help and having career-related conversations with your friends. On top of that, your alma mater can create a powerful bond. So, reach out to fellow alumni. (Make sure that you are just as generous with your help once the tables are turned.)
  • They’re looking at you
    Saper notes that companies are looking at your profiles during the hiring process. Make sure everything is up to date and completely professional. If there’s something you don’t want companies to see, take it down or make it private. Recruiters are always checking out profiles. Even if you’re not on the market for a job… a company may be on the market for someone like you. In other words, don’t limit your activity on social networks to only when you are searching for a job. You never know who may be interested!

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Contacting Strangers

There are unwritten rules when it comes to networking with someone you don’t know. Pollak suggests customizing the connection request. Be concise, professional and positive. NEVER directly ask for a job or if he/she will pass along your resume. (This is to be done after you’ve established a relationship.)

Be Two-Faced

Saper stresses the importance of having two online personas for all of your social networks (that includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr). The first can be entirely social — a place where only friends can see you. Keep up with privacy settings for this identity!  The second must be completely professional — your work identity. Here, network with colleagues, contacts, and businesses. Build your brand by including your work information and anything else that may be beneficial to your career.  As Saper points out, there’s an art to it!

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Keep up with Privacy Settings

I can’t emphasize this enough. Social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest) often announce new settings and rules. Make sure you are aware of what they are and make changes accordingly.

Social media is not a miracle worker, but it can be a huge asset to your job search, especially if you know how to use it correctly. Don't forget to talk to people in your industry to find out where it is most worthwhile to focus your efforts.

Do I owe my job to social media? Of course not. But, I’d be lying if I said it did not play a huge role. Happy job searching!