Social Etiquette: Career Advancement via Social Networks

In the days of social networking, no one seems to be impervious to wondering, curious eyes.  That includes employers.

In the days of social networking, no one seems to be impervious to wondering, curious eyes.  That includes employers.   More and more often, job seekers are turning to sites like Linkedin, Facebook, and even Twitter to seek out employers that are hiring- or even those that are not currently hiring- to make contact, make themselves known, and try to secure the desired position.  If it is "all about who you know," then you better know more people and that is exactly what job seekers are trying to achieve.

The Seeker

However, although the practice of using these engines for career advancement may be the way of the future- perhaps even the way of today- there are matters of social etiquette to be addressed.  Just as you wouldn't walk up to someone you didn't know in a public setting and abruptly ask for a job, you shouldn't treat these interactions any differently.  Also, recall that you are not the first to think of the idea of using this venue to make contact with an employer, so expect that he or she will be swamped with notes, emails, messages, and resumes from other job seekers, especially in today's market.  That means that your contact should not be too forward and off-putting, but should also be meaningful.  Make yourself standout- in a good way.  Recall, as well, that if you are going to use your social networking profile to contact professionals, you probably want to opt away from the photos of your latest bar outing.  Personal photos are not a bad thing- they give you a personality- but, avoid the ones that could give the wrong impression.  The same could be said of publicly viewable conversations.

The Sought After

It can be difficult to maintain a social life and a professional life in today's society, especially if you want to be up-to-date socially.  Social networking sites, while wonderful tools in many applications can be a hassle for the business professional, especially one that aims to maintain some anonymity.   So, do yourself a favor before starting the account.  Make up your mind, right away, about who you will befriend.  Are you looking to seeking professional connections or are you looking for a way to connect with friends?  Don't try to do both at once, because the message could get misconstrued when you reject a friend.  If you do not befriend work contacts, potential employees, and individuals of similar status on one account, perhaps you should consider another for that purpose (ie. Facebook for friends and Linkedin for work, or vice-a-versa).  That way when you don't accept a friend request, you can suggest that the person contact you on the other site.  Remember, as you career advances, it is likely that the same will be said for the number of time you will need to use this tactic.


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