Posted by: mindyrappoport | 10/10/2011

Using social media as a job search tool

In the last few years, social media has evolved from serving solely as a form of entertainment online to becoming a valuable tool job and internship applicants can use to market and brand themselves, network, and explore different career paths.

I’ve already talked about the importance of maintaining a professional Facebook page and utilizing Contxt’s text message business cards, but there’s a few other new media tools that job and internship applicants should familiarize themselves with, if they already haven’t.

  1. Twitter. According to digitalbuzzblog.com, 45 percent of all Twitter users are 18 to 34 years old, with 24 percent of users falling in the second largest category of 35 to 45 years old. In addition, as of March 14, 2011, Twitter noted in a post that over 400 employers were using their social media tool as of January of this year. So what does this mean for you? Employers are on Twitter, so create an account, follow professionals whose jobs or companies you are interested in, ask questions and search for potential opportunities. This summer, at one of the Online News Association panels I attended, Huffington Post Social News Editor Mandy Jenkins explained how she had tweeted back-and-forth with someone at The Huffington Post about different topics they were both interested in. In the end, when a position opened at The Huffington Post, she tweeted the staff member, applied, was offered the Social News Editor position and accepted. Moral of the story: Research, ask thoughtful questions, network, and look for potential job or internship opportunities. You never know what you’ll find.
  2. LinkedIn. Many students aren’t taking advantage of the most useful career-oriented social media tool, LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows users to create a profile that essentially displays their resume and contact info, but also allows them to link up, or friend request, past or present employers as well as professionals in fields they’re interested in. Using LinkedIn, you can ask these LinkedIn “connections” quick questions about their jobs or industries or request to set up informational interviews for a more in-depth talk about what they do. You can also use the “Career Explorer” tool to research potential career paths and information associated with them, connect and learn more about specific companies, and search for job or internship opportunities. You can even ask past or present employers to write recommendations for you, which can be displayed on your LinkedIn profile for potential employers to view. This is a very valuable, career-oriented social media tool, so keep it up to date and use it on a regular basis so as to stay in-the-know about potential opportunities
  3. Personal portfolio/website. One of the best ways to market or brand yourself online is to create a portfolio or website you can post your resume, work, and contact info on and direct employers to via business cards or your resume. You can build your website on domains like GoDaddy.com or yola.com, buy your own domain, or create blogs that you can use as websites (like this one) using WordPress.com, Blogger.com, or Tumblr.com.

Whatever social media tools you choose to use, make sure you are displaying yourself, both on your personal and professional accounts, in a respectable way that past, present, and future employers would appreciate.

Happy networking!

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