A brief article from Dow Jones' Marketwatch this morning explains how Google Plus, the wildly popular but exceedingly limited new social service, can help a job-seeker find that elusive job by boosting his or her exposure on the Web.
Sign up for it now, recruiters in the report insist.
I'm here to tell you that that's a load of bunk.
First things first: exposure on the Web is important for anyone, but even moreso for those seeking jobs in the technology sector. When you live and breathe an Internet-connected life, it should be your assumption that the first thing a recruiter or potential employer will do is conduct a basic Web search for your name.
It's your job to make sure those results help that person assess you. A LinkedIn profile with your job history and a Facebook profile with your casual self are a good start to establishing an online "foundation," so to speak.
If you're immersed in the Web and use Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr and so forth, an About.me profile pointing to your various presences shows that you're cognizant of them and you've bundled together your online personas into a cohesive whole.
But a big part of social media success is recognizing what each service is good at and whether that's relevant to your needs.
- LinkedIn: shows someone your job history without requiring them to dig up your resume.
- Facebook: shows someone you're active online.
- Twitter: shows someone you're active enough online to have something to say. Shows them what you're interested in and who's interested in you.
- Foursquare, Tumblr, etc.: shows someone you're extremely active online. (Also, where you had lunch yesterday and what it looked like.)
Twitter has yet to be adopted by many people (understandably; you need to have something to say) but it's actually the most useful for networking because you can quickly outline a person's social circle without running up against a privacy wall.
In this way, Twitter can be a revelation. You can quickly skip across social circles and learn who follows who; it's all hanging out there. You don't need to know the person to follow them and vice-versa, and it's a low-barrier way to establish a connection with someone.
But it's a very, very minor connection. Unless you're conversing with that person directly, you're watching silently from afar.
Google Plus promises more of the same. The upside is that it's connected to other Google services, meaning you don't need a handle, just your real name, like Facebook. You also don't need to say anything -- Google Plus doesn't exist solely for status updates; it's also a videochat service and a profile service rolled up into one. Unlike Twitter, it's not strange to lurk without updating.
The downsides are more considerable. For one, the click-happy interface makes it hard to quickly assess who's relevant and who's not. I continue to have to dive-down into "View All" menus to determine if a person is relevant to my quest, and I hit a dead-end when I get there: often, that person's posts are hidden or, since the service is so new, nonexistent.
Complicating things are just that fact: Google Plus is in its infancy. Twitter, Facebook et al have the advantage here -- they've been around long enough to become household names, if not activities. They have compelled people, through awareness, that they are worth joining. Plus isn't there yet.
So when it comes to look for a job, you may find that the people you want to work for simply aren't on Google Plus. (If you're not looking for a job or in the social Internet industry, it's probably a low priority.) And even if they are, those social connections may not yet be established, since Plus has artificially limited its growth by occasionally barring new users from joining.
Here are MarketWatch's suggestions for job hunters:
- Join Google+
- Create a Facebook page
- Join LinkedIn groups
- Retweet interesting material
- Interact with others on Twitter
- Post a job interest page on Monster.com
- Create an about.me profile to make it easy for people to connect
- Clearly list your location and skills
And here's my amended list:
- Join Google+, fill out your information, then forget about it. (Unless you want a job with Google, of course!)
- If you read ZDNet, you probably already have a Facebook profile. But its privacy walls are high, so it's not too useful for job hunting.
- Join LinkedIn, but forget the groups. Put your job history up there and make it easy for someone to put context to your name without overdoing it on detail.
- Join Twitter if it's relevant for your industry. Follow people you know and people you'd like to know. If you have a point to make, make it. This is where you can make your personality public.
- Skip Monster.com and other broad job boards. They're full of spammy, irrelevant recruiters. (However, if there's a digital watercooler for your specific sector, by all means participate.)
- If you use multiple online social services, create an About.me profile to make it easy for people to connect the dots. If not, don't sweat it.
With two things to remember:
- Be where your potential employer is looking. Often, LinkedIn and Facebook are enough. Follow the lead of those you seek to work with. (And if they're not on Tumblr, don't bother!)
- Pick up the damn phone and arrange to have coffee or lunch with someone. Social networks are a fine tool to boost accessibility, but there's a big gap between discovery and a job. (And it's called "networking.") Until you meet, you're just a favicon.
Many, many ZDNet readers out there are managers who hire on a regular basis. Tell me: what are you really looking for? Leave your hefty dose of realism in TalkBack.