Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Do Social Networking Sites Help Job Seekers?

They can if you use them right. Before we talk about that, though, consider some numbers.

Joe Whyte showcased some interesting social networking stats this week on his blog, Search Marketing Standard. LinkedIn, one of the largest of the social networking sites whose ranks include and, has seen growth up to 1,000% in the last two years. They currently have 10 million registered users, while Ryze and Spoke have 250,000 and 30 million, respectively (Spoke is actually a sales generation tool with a social networking component).

  • How can you capitalize on all that networking power for your job search?
    Do the obvious: register. Pick one or more sites and establish an account.

  • Build a strong profile that showcases your skills, experience, and credentials.

  • Send out invitations to your friends, family, and peers to get them, well, “linked in”, but it’s worth the time.

  • Import your email network(s) via CSV (comma separated) files.

  • Connect with former classmates and colleagues.

  • Secure recommendations from others on your work.

  • Search and apply for jobs posted on the networking site. LinkedIn, for example, uses the DirectEmployers database for their job listings, and when you apply for a job via their site, the recipient employer not only receives your resume/cover letter, they also receive your LinkedIn profile along with access to the recommendations others have written about you.

  • Identify your inside connections at a workplace and network with them to get your resume in the hiring manager’s hands.

  • Look for tools and add-ons that will help you to establish a habit of staying socially connected. On LinkedIn, for example, you can download an Outlook Toolbar that helps you manage your contacts, stay in touch, and coordinate your invitations. They also have a JobInsider function you can download which will alert you to the presence of your inside connections at particular companies when you’re performing online job searches.

  • Look for groups to join in order to tap into industry/professional groups, college/corporate alumni organizations, and industry conferences.

  • Look for ways to give before you try to get. Offer ideas, connections, and resources to others. Pass on job leads and news. Send copies of articles and blog posts of interest.

The bottom line? Don’t set up an account on one of these sites unless you intend to use it. The only thing worse than missing out on social networking opportunities would be having professionals and employers see your incomplete profile and being turned off by it.

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