The following is an excerpt from Wired for Work: Get a Job FAST using LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter by Steve Weber.
If you haven’t looked for a job lately, you’re in for a surprise.
Until recently, job searching was fairly simple. You scanned the classified pages of your local newspaper. You chatted with family, friends, acquaintances, and you asked for recommendations. When you found a lead, you mailed in a resume and cover letter, crossed your fingers, and waited for the phone to ring.
To put it mildly, things have changed. Most job opportunities aren’t listed in the classified pages anymore. Your cookie-cutter resume and cover letters no longer cut it. And on top of all that, today’s job market is tough, the worst since the Great Depression.
The old places people used to look for jobs, like newspaper ads, are dying. Even the online employment sites you might know about, like Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com or HotJobs, are a dead end for most people. Here’s why:
The job often doesn’t exist. The job listings at these big-name employment sites are stale. They’re often copied directly from company Web sites or internal applicant tracking systems, which are chronically out-of-date. Worse, many employers post phantom jobs at these sites, simply to harvest resumes and fill their applicant database. Employers perpetuate this jobs treadmill because it’s cheaper than hosting job fairs or hiring recruiters. And the Web sites are happy to play along, because the more job listings they have, the more visitors click through their pages, and the more they can charge in advertising and listing fees. But for you, this jobs merry-go-round is a colossal waste of time and energy.
The better the job, the more likely you’ll be lost in the clutter. Nowadays, a typical job posting can attract hundreds or thousands of resumes. Company recruiters, buried under an avalanche of e-mails and resumes, often miss the best-qualified and experienced applicants.
Although these new job-search tools are mostly free, they can be wonderfully effective. You’ll have early notice of unadvertised job opportunities, and direct access to the hiring decision-makers.
Even if you don’t find your next job on Twitter, LinkedIn, or some other networking site, using these tools can boost your image to potential employers. Most employers now use social networking sites to help screen job candidates, according to a recent survey of 2,600 hiring managers by CareerBuilder. Of those who conduct online background checks of job candidates, 29 percent use Facebook, 26 percent use LinkedIn, and 21 percent use MySpace. About one in 10 employers search blogs, and 7 percent follow candidates on Twitter.
Unlike submitting your resume to a jobs listing site where your application often falls into a black hole, the profile you establish on social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can enhance your career in two major ways. “First, you can highlight your career achievements and the attributes that single you out as the best candidate for a job,” says Andy Beal, co-author of Radically Transparent: Monitoring & Managing Reputations Online. “Second, these profiles can also rank well in a Google search for your name. Should a potential employer decide to include Google results as part of its background check, they’ll discover the content that you carefully constructed to portray yourself in a positive light.”
In the old days, you had firm control of your introduction to prospective employers. You wrote the resume and cover letter, and provided your references. Of course, you included only the things that made you look good. But today, employers can get lots more information about you by searching the Internet. If you’ve never sat down and looked at what information is out there, it’s time to start.
Let’s take a peek at your online image, as seen through the eyes of a prospective employer. What will they see when they Google your name?
On your Web browser, type your name, city of residence, and perhaps your line of work into the search box at Google.com. Are you among the first results, or is the result someone else with the same name? What details about you are available? Being at the top of the search results can be a good thing, or it might be bad, depending on what shows up.
Does your name appear as a speaker at a professional event? Have you won an award? Were you mentioned in a class reunion? That’s good. On the other hand, does your name lead to a Facebook page, where potential employers can view embarrassing photos of you drinking beer at a friend’s party? Not so good.
Now, put yourself in an employer’s shoes, someone who has received your cover letter and resume, but wants to learn more about you before scheduling an interview. He or she might perform an online search to see what information about you is available. Do you want this potential employer to see your Facebook profile? Your Twitter account? If so, make sure you’ve set your privacy settings to allow public viewing. Of course, this will allow prospective employers to see the same information as everyone else–the good, the bad, and the ugly.
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