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Social Networks and Your Job Search (Part 1)

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Note from the blogger: I'm a contributor to the Student Branding blog and wrote this post for that blog--but after I finished writing it, I thought it could be valuable to the readers on this blog so I made a few modifications and am reposting it here to share with you. 

I’m a sucker for stories with a happy ending. You know, those feel-good moments where the underdog wins, or the look in the eye when the good guy prevails: I love them all, and then some too.

Here's my most recent "happy ending" story:

Last week I heard that one of the veterans who attended the Intel Veterans’ Employment Training (VET) workshop got a job after attending the workshop! (You can read her full story on this post titled, “How Intel Helped this Vet Find a Job“.) It got me thinking about all of the advice and opportunities (many of them free!) that exist out there for job-seekers.

I started to wonder: how much of this advice is actually being used?

Do you use campus and online resources to your advantage?

There’s the tried, tested, and true advice you get from visiting your campus Career Center (if you haven’t been, stop reading now and go!), but with the growth of the Internet, and especially social networks, there are more ways to connect with companies. These are all networks that most, if not all of you, have hopefully used at some point–that’s already a leg-up! This post (like most of my posts) is dedicated to you, O relentless job-seeker, to help you find and take advantage of some of the newer ways companies are opening themselves up: basics of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Leverage your LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn is being hailed as the premier professional networking site, and I’m not disputing that. This is a fantastic place to connect with colleagues (old and new), reach out to professionals in a field that you’re interested in, and share your professional experience to a broader audience. Creating a LinkedIn profile is much easier than having to send out a million paper resumes.

Not looking for a job? LinkedIn is where you can build your network and keep in touch with people you meet along the way. After I meet with someone new, whether it be at a conference or over a bench-marking call, or through a Twitter exchange, I’ll look up if they’re on LinkedIn and connect with them. This way I can remember who they are, and if I ever need to find someone to join my team (or they have a lucrative opportunity they’re looking to fill), there’s an existing connection.

Joining LinkedIn is pretty simple–it’s free, and all you need is an email address! Spend the initial time to build your profile by adding a photo and filling out the profile fields. (Tip: If you have a current resume, it will really help you fill out the basic profile information.)

Facebook is for more than just friends

I’m sure many of you already use Facebook to keep in touch with your friends and family, but have you thought about using it for professional reasons? Before you wave me off, hear me out. I’m not saying you should or should not connect with colleagues or professional contacts through Facebook–that is a personal decision for you to make. (And I already wrote a post about that: Friending or Following your Coworkers Online?)

But have you thought about the opportunity that exists with your current network? I’ll go out on a limb and say you’re not close to even 10% of them, but if you’re Facebook friends, then there is some level of trust and camaraderie that exists–are you taking advantage of that? Your close friends know who you are, they know what kinds of jobs you’d be interested in and what your skills are, but how about your more distant connections? They’re the ones you should think about re-connecting with.

That girl whose locker was next to yours for all of high school? She might be working at the company that has an opening that you’re interested in. Use the information available to you from their profiles or public posts, and take mental notes, or better yet, ask them about what they do, how they got there, and if they might have some advice for you.

Join the conversation on Twitter!

People usually laugh when I tell them this, but I stand by it: I can be shy. Sometimes I get really tongue-tied and nervous and, well, afraid to approach people. But I’m working on it! While my shyness can prevent me from meeting someone, I’m not a fan of missed opportunities. Luckily an online encounter doesn’t have to be as nerve-wracking: enter Twitter. Twitter is one big come one, come all (as long as your tweets aren’t protected) party! It’s where I get most of my news, meet the coolest people and truly expand my network.

On Facebook and LinkedIn, I would think twice about just sending someone a request without an In Real Life introduction, meeting, or at the very least, an email or message conversation online. That’s not the case with Twitter. In fact, that’s part of the charm. By using the search function, looking at retweets or finding the suggested people to follow section, you can literally start following anyone and everyone. What a great way to get a feel for what life in a certain profession or at a certain company would be like. It’s also a chance for you to see the kinds of articles or news to follow (just watch what a role model is sharing). And if you find out that you don’t like what someone has to say, just unfollow them. It’s really that simple. Give it a try!

There you have it, my first steps to how social networks can help you find a job, learn more about a company, and expand your network. Give it a try and stay tuned for part 2 where I'll share more on how to connect with a potential employer online! (Oh and if you’re not following me on Twitter already, I’m @smileysejalee .  Send me a tweet, I’d love to hear from you!)

Intel is on these networks, and a few more--are you connected with us?