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Career Development

Using Social Media

Be careful out there. Your future boss (and your mother) may be watching.

More and more employers are going to social networking sites to obtain information about job applicants. Employers have rejected applicants based on what they found on Facebook.

The top areas of concern found on social networking sites include:
  • Information about alcohol or drug use (41% of managers said this was a top concern)
  • Inappropriate photos or information posted on a candidate’s page (40%)
  • Poor communication skills (29%)
  • Bad-mouthing of former employers or fellow employees (28%)
  • Inaccurate qualifications (27%)
  • Unprofessional screen names (22%)
  • Notes showing links to criminal behavior (21%)
  • Confidential information about past employers (19%)

based on a study conducted by Career Builder.

How do I get noticed online?

1. Profiles

Every industry has its own vocabulary. Before you write about your past work and educational experiences, read several descriptions of jobs that interest you. Then in your online profile or bio, describe your skills and experience with the terminology used by professionals in your field of interest making it easier for recruiters with the best fit opportunities for you to find your profiles. (Remember to update all your online profiles.) For example, if you’re seeking a marketing job, perhaps previous positions or projects included aspects of customer acquisition, social media or market research. Hint: Be relevant, but resist the temptation to overstate your qualifications.

2. Get Recommendations

On LinkedIn, you can ask connections to provide recommendations that viewers of your profile will see. It may seem intimidating to ask, but endorsements will make you stand out. Start by requesting connections with employers, professors and clients. Then draft a note that you’ll send through LinkedIn’s “Request Recommendation” function. Explain that you’re seeking a job, and what type; and remind your contact of the specific project or work experience you’re asking them to endorse. Then wait. If you pester people, they won’t want to recommend you for anything other than an etiquette class. Politely follow up after two weeks. And consider recommending them first; they may be job hunting someday, too.

3. Show Your Work

In your online profiles, you have more room to show off than your one-page resume. Include links to Web sites, e-portfolios and blogs that illustrate your work—or your work ethic. If you don’t have one, you should consider creating an online portfolio and keep adding to it. Accomplishments don’t have to all be strictly relevant to the job you seek, but can show you have a record of hard work, accomplishment, creativity or intellectual curiosity. If you do not have much work experience, evidence of these characteristics can set you apart from others. When possible, show the concrete, measurable goals you were able to achieve.

4. Connect With Industry Groups and Companies

Professional networks and businesses usually have a presence in social networks. Look in the Groups section of LinkedIn and join relevant professional groups; become a fan of professional groups and your target companies on Facebook. Also follow experts and companies on Twitter. Once you join/fan/follow, you’ll automatically receive news (including job information). This “inside information” can alert you to opportunities and give you a leg up in interviews. Potential employers will appreciate the initiative you’ve taken to educate yourself for the job.

5. Engage in Conversations

You’ve got the connections and you’re in the groups. but you can’t just sit there. Show that you have more than a pulse, that you care and are energetic. Post questions and provide answers for others. Respond to Wall posts, retweet and react. Differentiate yourself beyond your resume by showing your interest and commitment to this professional area. By engaging in conversation, you’ll actually build the number and quality of your connections online. These contacts you engage with will see that you have something valuable to offer, and may even help with your job search. Now you have done more than write a resume: You’re marketing yourself online. And you’ll become more qualified by learning and contributing to professional online communities.

Source: Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite and Former Head of Yahoo HotJobs