This blog is on topics of interest to early career professionals who work with people with disabilities. Blog contributors have diverse perspectives on leadership, professional development, and success in changing systems to better serve people with disabilities and their families. For more information on Early Career Professionals, check out the website: www.aucd.org/ecp

25 May, 2010

Social Media to the Rescue

When the economy is not doing well, finding job can be a challenge for about 1.5 million college students graduating every year.

We all know that the best way to find new job is through networking. As soon as you find yourself in the crowd, which is looking for job, your first step is to send emails to your friends and personal network asking them to pass information around. Social networking let you do much more. Using social media tools you can draw attention to you and help yourself stand out from the thousands of resumes submitted in a traditional way through the corporate sites or in response to a classified ad.

There is no quantitative data telling you how efficient this approach is, but there is evidence that hiring process is changing on the other end. Today hiring managers more often are looking online to do research on potential candidates searching Facebook profile, LinkedIn, blogs for professional and personal information.

Below I put brief instructions on what to do in case you want to try a social media approach.

Where to start: Set up several accounts. I would recommend using business oriented network like LinkedIn. It’s important to keep your online image polished and professional and separate business from fun. If you are using Twitter, then create two separate accounts on Twitter. If you are using Facebook and still want to stick to it, be sure to separate fun from business. Change Facebook privacy setting so that work contacts would not be able see any of your friend’s pictures. What goes on web stays on web – permanently! Many of us can come up with at least one horror story of online postings causing employment problems.

You will use those accounts to build your professional “brand”. There are several ways to do that. Start promoting yourself and your skills by initiating discussions and answering questions. For example, browse or search by keyword through questions that other LinkedIn members have posted in your area of expertise and post answers. Be sure that you have solid content. You can start a blog as a way of promoting your “brand”. Use Wordpress.com or blogger.com. These do not require tech knowledge to start blogging. Join specialist groups and communities online to get an inside track. There is a new trend in promoting your personal brand – video resume. To have an idea see CVs posted on YouTube.

Social media gives you opportunity, which did not exist before, to directly connect to people. Find company that you would like to work for. Identify and track employees that currently work there. For example, LinkedIn (remember, you already have an account there), provides a solid professional portal and let you find and connect to people working in the places where you would like to work. You can search Technorati, which have more than 130 million blogs, to find people who work in the area of your interest. A person who you talk to or were recommended by someone you know, even through online communication, will have higher chance to stand out in the crowd than a paper resume. And your chances to get a job will be higher.

Also social media supports traditional way of finding jobs by locating jobs on corporate sites and job banks. Social media gives you the tool to keep eyes on “traditional” job boards postings by using RSS. Search by keyword job site and subscribe to RSS feed.

The goal of this posting is not to try to convince you to walk away from the traditional way of reaching hiring managers through writing and submitting resumes. Instead, it is to arm you with the tools which increase your chance of success. You need to be committed to this project because it requires a lot of writing, creativity, and consistency in order for it to actually help you. But by the end it will pay back.

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