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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Job Search and Social Media

In a recent webinar about job seekers who use social media, there were some interesting thoughts to share.

Thought number one – by using social media are we establishing a buffer zone between ourselves and other humans or are we actually forging new relationships?
Let’s examine that thought from both sides of the coin.
1. Buffer zone concept – you can build your network “virtually”. You will eventually run out of people that you know and then being able to “link” with new people becomes increasingly more difficult. The Buffer zone also allows you: to communicate with someone by keyboard; to not worry about your appearance once you have a profile picture in place; to “lurk” in the background; and, to do plenty of research on a company and its culture.
2. Forging new relationships – you are able to use the social media tools as a conversation opener or closer by asking someone you have just met if they are on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. That allows you to: hold a conversation with someone new (or a renewed acquaintance) about a mutual topic of interest; have a place to remain or become connected; and, stay on top of events at a business in which you might be interested in gaining employment.

Thought number two – 140 characters:
In a nutshell, Twitter is the equivalent of one of those community boards in the vestibule of a grocery store where you can scan everything and really only read what you want to read. How accurately does a “tweet”, a text message, a Facebook post, or a LinkedIn status update reflect your character? If you use any or all of these mediums to connect with your network, you may or may not coherently express your thoughts in only 140 characters. While your friends and followers may know you well enough to be able to read between the lines, a hiring manager may not be that tuned into your psyche. Twitter is an additional avenue to network with a company or individual. It should never be an exclusive option. A “Google” search could turn up your comments, and in turn, could help or hinder your abilities when searching for a job.

Thought number three - Culture
Corporate culture seems to be one of the new catch phrases. What this means to you as a job seeker is if your job skills and abilities are equal to other applicants, will you be a good match in the way that a company does business, or corporate culture. One way for a hiring manager to find out if you will be a good match for their company is to follow you on Twitter. Twitter comments are open for public view. When someone searches your name, your tweets (comments you have made) show up. Twitter posts paint a picture of your personality. If you are trying to find a job with a new company, the company hiring manager may “Google” you, find your twitter account and read the tweets. This gives the company a good insight into your ability to fit in with their corporate culture.

Thought number four – sincerity
Nowadays people are concerned about their “carbon footprint”. When you are writing anything on the internet, you need to be aware of your “social media footprint”. Remember that what you put out there stays out there, somewhere. What you think is an innocent, innocuous statement, could be construed in a different manner by someone (who doesn’t know your personality) thinking about offering you a new position. Are you posting comments about a company to garner attention from that company or because you truly feel strongly about that company and want to share your positive opinions about it? If you are not genuine in your comments on social media sites, it could come back to bite you.

Thought number five – brand
When you see certain commercials on TV or symbols out somewhere, you know instantly what the company represented is because they have done such an excellent job of creating that image or brand. You too need to be concerned with your brand – your personal brand. Another new catch phrase, personal branding, is something that can be affected by what you say on social media sites. If you are one to express strong opinions about controversial topics, you may want to consider locking down your security settings on Facebook and/or limiting who you actually allow to be your friends. Are you filling out on-line profiles just to be filling them out? Stop. Be specific. Be focused. Be targeted. Figure out who you are, what you want, what you want to project about you, and follow through with that in whatever you write on a blog, a website, or in 140 characters.

Thought number six – fit
Three questions hiring managers* are asking these days are:
1. Is someone a good fit? Do they like you; will you fit into the corporate culture?
2. Will you stay motivated? Are you going to be happy on the job in the future?
3. Can you do the job? Are your skill sets appropriate to accurately complete the tasks?

Do your research. If you really want to work for company X, read their website, any related blogs, check out their culture, read tweets, check out LinkedIn and Facebook, review any projects that they may have completed to which you may have access. Think outside the norm – is a traditional resume the most appropriate way to sell you to this particular company? Or, is a “created” magazine cover with your picture on it more in line to show off your abilities. And above all, when you are applying for a job – read the directions listed and follow them – even if it is on social media.
*credit for this concept to Joshua Waldman of

How we can help – We offer many resources to help you gain a new position. The Employment and Training Representatives at Kane County Department of Employment and Education can help you find all the information you need to help you go from unemployed to employed. Visit our webpage at

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