Using social media to find a job in a down economy

Using social media to find a job in a down economy

Summary: Social networking helps you bypass the anonymity that accompanies submitting your resume amongst thousands submitted for one job opening through an online site or recruiters or in response to a classified ad.

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* Jennifer Leggio is on vacation

Guest editorial by John Boyd

Using social media to find a job in a down economyFinding a new job can be difficult and nerve-racking, particularly in a slow economy.  Social networking helps you bypass the anonymity that accompanies submitting your resume amongst thousands submitted for one job opening through an online site or recruiters or in response to a classified ad.  Social networking can bring you closer to finding a job by allowing you to establish a relationship with the people who are looking to fill a job position or with friends, colleagues and peers who can otherwise give you an “in” or even a head start.  You just may be able to get that great job faster by distinguishing and making yourself known earlier in the race - through the opportunities afforded through online social networking.

It’s not what you know, but who you know It’s particularly true in tough times, whether you are looking for your next client or business deal or simply trying to find a new job, that it’s not what you know, but who you know.  I got my last two jobs when someone I had worked with in the past contacted me about the job opportunities before they were listed anywhere else. Although I’d like to think I got the jobs because of what I knew, who I knew had a much greater impact on my finding out about the job and getting my foot in the door. The more real-world contacts you have, the better your chances of learning about new job opportunities.  If you have ever been in the position of searching for someone to fill a job opening, you know that after a while, a huge stack of resumes can become blurred words on paper.  Someone you have met or who happens to know someone you work with may stand out just a bit more.

Building a network of trusted contacts involves reaching out to former coworkers, former classmates, colleagues in your industry, fellow alumni and fellow association members. Online social networks provide an easy way to develop and solidify these contacts which can only help your job search.  To the extent you need to change industries because of market forces, developing trusted contacts in other industries will greatly increase your chances of making a smooth transition into a new career.

Not all Online Contacts are Equal Let’s face reality.  Some online social contacts are close friends or former coworkers or otherwise trusted contacts, while other “online contacts” are people you’ve never met or even spoken to.  You may be “LinkedIn” to more people you’ve never met than you have actually met or have some relationship with.  Generally, having a contact is better than not having one, but it’s important to distinguish between those who know you and you can trust versus strangers you’ve never met.

Let Your Close Contacts Know You are Looking and Ask for Their Help Leverage your close contacts whether it’s for providing advice, reviewing your resume (discussed below) or helping you get in the door.  Since these people know you, they are more likely to understand which opportunities are a good match and also provide a reference for you to get you the interview. Using social networking, you can also reach out to your close contact’s contacts which are often easier to leverage then contacts who have no real connection to you.  I’d recommend focusing on your closer contacts before trying to leverage your broader online contacts in this way.

Broadcast Your Skills and Strengths to Everyone Else To engage a broader social networking audience, start by promoting yourself and your skills by initiating or participating in discussions, answering questions and taking other actions to let others within your online community understand who you are and what you bring to the table. You must establish yourself as a trustworthy, valuable participant before you can expect to leverage that online community to really help you find a job in a slow economy.  During this process, you will begin to develop new contacts as you engage in these discussions.   Once you’ve established credibility through your online comments and discussions – this will take time and effort – updating your status to “seeking new job” can sometimes trigger help from those now comfortable referring you to jobs.

Find One or More Contacts to Review your Resume Yes, a standard resume is typically only one or two pages. And yours probably should not be any longer.  Like all other conscientious job seekers, you’ve probably reviewed and revised it many times.  However, having a second set of eyes carefully review your resume is still important.  Why?  It’s a dense document, and you may be your own worst proof reader because of your deep familiarity with the content. There are diminishing returns to reviewing a document many, many times - it becomes easier to gloss over glaring imperfections after several reads.  Identify those in your social network who appear to be solid writers and good proof readers and ask them to review your resume.  Offer to do the same for them.  Having your contacts review your resume will sometimes remind them of possible job opportunities that could be a good fit.  In any event, having a flawless resume is always a good start.

No Lampshades Worn Here Keep in mind it’s important to keep your online image polished and professional if you wish to leverage it to find a new job.  We’ve all heard the horror stories of party pics causing employment issues.  And that was in a strong economy.

John Boyd is the CEO and founder of MeetingWave (www.MeetingWave.com), a free online tool for networking off-line for business, professional, or social purposes that allows its members to set up networking meetings that are open to people they have never met.

Topics: CXO, Networking, IT Employment, Social Enterprise

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6 comments
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  • Great Article!

    These are all good suggestions.

    Back before the Internet, conventional wisdom was that networking was your best bet for finding a good job, with classified ads less likely to be fruitful, though not to be ignored.

    Now, we have a multiplicity of Internet equivalents of newspaper classifieds, but the old wisdom still holds true. Key difference is that the new social networking tools should help people really speed up and enhance their networking efforts.
    gll@...
  • Why a resume?

    This is a great article, John, but if the goal is to use social media to find a job, then why use old media technologies, e.g. pieces of paper, and not create a social media resume?
    ariherzog
    • Why a resume?

      Thanks for the feedback and the comment. Whether on paper or online, most resumes contain a dense amount of information and we are our own worst proof readers (whether reviewing on paper or on the computer screen). I always recommend a second set of eyes review your resume or online CV, regardless of the medium used. It's too easy to gloss over mistakes (I should proof this comment now). Thanks, John
      MeetingWave
  • Great article

    John,

    Great points. I actually found my job through social
    media. My blog was recognized by a news organization,
    I connected with a VP there, he put me in touch with
    his old boss who was starting a new venture and voila,
    a Web 2.0 job hire success story.

    As for whether to have a Web 2.0 resume vs. a paper
    one, you've got to play by the rules of the game and
    the game says paper is still king. The online version
    is nice to have, but when a tired recruiter is going
    through a stack of resumes don't count on them
    remembering your URL and jumping online to check you
    out.

    An online resume is important, but I would rely on it
    over and above paper any day. Also, if you're looking
    for resume help check out http://resumedonkey.com for
    cheap resume advice and rewrites. (disc: i own a
    partial interest in that co)
    morganbrown
  • Finally something useful proposed . . .

    Having been through the experience of unemployment too many times I applaud this common-sense suggestion.
    I've been pretty negative about the "I'm at Starbucks enjoying a . . " use of this media, but if people can use it to locate employment, that redeems it considerably.
    pikeman666@...
  • RE: Using social media to find a job in a down economy

    Online Networking is the new way to find jobs. These days, we need to get out of our comfort zone and try out new tools like social networking sites. The more niche oriented, I think the better in terms of finding a job and making connections. I manage NurseConnect.com, a professional networking site for nurses.
    Joanne at NurseConnect