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Using social networking to your advantage

Editor-in-Chief

Published: Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 13:07

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Burke Stanion/Prospectus News

There are many things to think about when social networking, but luckily, there is help available. Be smart, and get creative. Try something new, or play by the rules. Either way, use common sense and think from an employer’s point of view when connecting. After all, it could lead to landing a great job.

We all know that social networking sites are great for what their titles imply, socializing and networking. But is it possible to use them to gain an advantage professionally?  Of course! There are many different ways to make use of these great tools and put you ahead of the competition.

Start networking early – More than 80 percent of people searching for a job say that networking helped with their search. "Your career network should be in place for when you need it, both for job searching and for moving along the career ladder," says Alison Doyle, a job search and employment expert. "Since you never know when you might need it, it makes sense to have an active career network, even if you don't need it today." People in your network can provide helpful information, advice, leads and much more. Staying in touch with the people in your network can also provide benefits, as people who remember you will be more willing to help.

Update responsibly –Students hear the warnings, but rarely listen. Do away with the party photos and don't post something you wouldn't want a potential employer seeing. Also update to your advantage.  "Instead of writing, ‘I'm in line for coffee,' you can write, ‘looking for an accounting position.' If I see that, I may send you a lead," says Good Morning America's Tory Johnson. However, be aware of over sharing. Update with similar statuses less frequently or else employers may think you're desperate.

Add and follow responsibly -Johnson also recommends following a potential employer on twitter as certain companies often post job openings. Johnson shares with a word of warning, saying, "everything you post becomes public and there are many infamous anecdotes about a candidate getting a job offer, then posting a comment online saying, ‘Yeah I got the offer, but the commute really stinks,' or ‘I got the job but the money's pathetic.' Assume it'll get back to the prospective employer and the offer will be rescinded before you even start."

Connecting with everyone in your contact list can also be a good idea, but err on the side of caution. While "adding" the marketing rep you've been in touch with may seem to initiate a connection, it might actually end up being a useful connection if you follow up with your request and gain something from it. Be sure to follow up with the person afterwards to truly make the connection beneficial for you.

Share your profile –Make yourself visible to potential employers. "In addition to reviewing resumes posted to their company web sites and to job sites like Monster or CareerBuilder, employers are actively sourcing passive candidates," says Doyle. "They are mining the Internet to find the best people to hire, regardless of whether the candidate has expressed interest in their company, or not."

How do you increase your chances of being found? Make your professional information, such as resume, special skills, education and more, easy to access. Also be sure to keep your information as up to date as possible to increase your visibility to employers.

Applicants that provide links to their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts with job inquiries provide the real information employers would like to see for them. This will also show that you take yourself seriously. If you are hesitant about sharing your profile, you may want to re-think the way you use your account.

One thing to look out for, however, is over sharing information. Never include bank account numbers, social security numbers, date of birth and other private information as most of that information is not needed until you are actually hired.

There are many things to think about when social networking, but luckily, there is help available. Be smart, and get creative. Try something new, or play by the rules. Either way, use common sense and think from an employer's point of view when connecting. After all, it could lead to landing a great job.

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