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Archive for Monday, August 9, 2010

Experts offer tips for using social networking to find a job

August 9, 2010

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Still frustrated by a job search that’s seemingly headed nowhere?

Online social networks may be able to help you out, but be sure to avoid some nasty pitfalls in the process.

Sara Clayton, an assistant director at KU Career Services, and Lindsey Pollak, global spokeswoman for LinkedIn, recently offered some tips for people who are navigating an online job market.

DO:

• Use privacy settings, and be careful about what you post online.

Clayton said that it’s important to be aware of what others can see — anyone searching for you can see a Facebook profile picture, for example. So, it’s probably best probably not to use the one showing off that spiffy new beer helmet.

• Be polite.

It may sound simple, but a “thank-you” e-mail to someone who has helped you can go a long way.

• Gain as much information as you can.

Pollak said one of the best ways to use LinkedIn is to use it to find what kind of work you’d like, and the qualifications of others working in the field. She recalled talking to someone who had no idea what he wanted to do, and when she asked what he enjoyed, he said “baseball.”

After typing that in the search field, she returned 109,000 results, from the major leagues to community organizations.

• Ask for “informational interviews.” It’s another way to get connected and see what jobs are like, by asking other working professionals for advice and information — something many in the working world are happy to help with.

“It takes some finessing,” Pollak said. “You should focus on building relationships and adding value to that relationship.”

• Complete your LinkedIn profile.

Pollak said that fully completing a LinkedIn profile — something the site walks you through — will give professionals the idea that you’re serious about what you do.

A good photo helps, too, along with recommendations from others you’ve worked with.

• Control your own message.

As more and more employers use social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to gain more information about people they’re looking to hire, one good thing is that you can control what they see, Clayton said.

“If you fit something they’re looking for, it does make you visible in a way you weren’t visible before.”

Therefore, some kind of “personal branding” through Facebook and Twitter can help showcase your talents, she said.

DON’T:

• Be so negative!

Things like “Man, I hate my boss” can be problematic, not only if your current boss follows your status updates, but also for a potential employer.

• Bombard people with messages.

If you’re not getting a response in a timely manner, it’s probably best to move on, Clayton said. No one likes to be hit with a barrage of usually unsolicited e-mails, tweets or other social networking messages.

• Make it all about you.

Pollak said it’s usually a bad idea to openly ask someone for a job. Instead, use the social network to find ways you can offer support to connections, perhaps by offering to help with an ongoing project.

• Use poor grammar and spelling.

“I could tell they texted the e-mail to me,” Clayton recalled one employer telling her about a job candidate.

Spelling definitely counts, she said, especially when communicating with other professionals.

• Flutter in and out of touch.

“Stay engaged,” Pollak said, particularly if you’re searching for a job.

She suggested checking the site frequently, joining a few groups and being responsive to those who contact you, particularly college alumni groups.

“KU alumni, they can be your biggest allies,” Clayton tells students.

• Connect with just anyone.

It’s about the quality of your connections on sites like LinkedIn, Pollak said, and not the quantity. Connect with people you know, like family members, college classmates or other colleagues.

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