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You know that old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. While I don’t believe the first part of the saying (because what you don’t know will eventually catch up with you), the second part could not be more true with today’s social networks. While “who you know” has always been important, it has never been easier to leverage your network with services like LinkedIn and other social networks. But more importantly, it’s not only who you know, but also who knows you. Successfully leveraging your social networks in your job search requires that you focus on those individuals who know firsthand about you and what you’ve accomplished in your career.
1. Organize Your Social Networks
You’ve got all of your contacts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., but are they organized? Probably not. You should organize your connections based on the type of contacts. For example, former managers from previous employers will best know the type of work you did, what you are good at, and your long term potential. These connections should be at the top of your list and you should leverage them to help find jobs. Second, on the list are current and former coworkers. They too will have an idea of your experience and strong points. There are tools you can use to organize your connections (although sometimes using Word or Excel might work best).
2. Network First, Applications Second
Applying for jobs will make you feel good (because you think you’ve accomplished something). However, your first step should be to add to your list from item #1 above where all of your top contacts currently work. For those that are working at companies where you would like to work, they are the best bet to helping you get your resume and application to the top of the pile. Most employers look more favorably to internal recommendations than external applications. Similarly, those of your connections who have previously worked at companies where you have a potential opportunity may also be able to help you with a contact.
3. How’s Your Profile Looking?
When was the last time you updated your profile on LinkedIn? Better yet, how does the content and format of your profile compare to others in your industry? Yes, it can be time-consuming to create and update your social network profile but this is the first place recruiters and corporate HR professionals look if they want to know more about you. Second, only to your resume, your online profile is your most important job search tool. It should closely mirror your resume and should have all of the relevant keywords (and don’t confuse “buzzwords with “keywords”) that will ensure it comes up in a search.
4. Job Search Marketing – What’s Your Brand?
It might sound corny, but you need to have a personal brand. This is who you are, how you stand out, and why a potential employer would want to hire you. No, it should not sound like an ad for cornflakes, but it should define who you are. This is a key part of your Job Search Marketing Toolkit and should also be a key part of your social network profile. The best approach is to take a look at your current resume and create highlights of your experience and accomplishments. This will form the basis of your “brand”.
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5. Have you Googled Yourself Lately?
I’m sure you’ve heard all of the stories about people who get Fired or lose a job opportunity because of something that they (or someone else) has posted on a social network. Or worse yet, maybe someone with a similar name has a damaging social network profile and this has somehow been associated with you. While there is not a lot you can do to control what others post about you, you can get ahead of the curve and ensure you have done your research on your own profile and have proactively fixed (or attempted to fix) any damaging information.