As with many of my blogs, I will begin with a true confession. I’m a Twitter junkie. I enjoy exchanging banter and ideas with industry colleagues around the world. I use Twitter instead of RSS feeds to find interesting articles, blogs, and people. I have lists of hundreds of recruiters and career services professionals that I follow daily. I am also on LinkedIn and I have a Facebook page for my business. As you can see, I love social networking. So, the advice I’m about to give may seem strange coming from me. But here goes.
Job seekers, get off the computer already!
The media is abuzz with news on social networking, and a day rarely passes when some headline-grabbing article doesn’t tout social media as the next miracle cure for your job search. Don’t drink the kool-aid.
As somebody who is old enough to remember, it has the same hyped-up do-it-now-or-die, if-you-aren’t-doing-it-your-out-of-the-loop feel as the late 90’s when financial advisors pushed dot.com companies as must-haves in your investment portfolio. Sure, there are stories of people who social-networked their way to a new job, just as there used to be stories of dot.coms that actually made money. But now, as then, genuine success stories are few and far between.
On the job search front, you will find the social-network-to-success stories tend to have a few things in common. The position for which the job seeker was hired had social networking somewhere in the job title, or at a minimum in the first paragraph of the job description. More often, the job seeker actually found the job through connections they cultivated offline, but social networking helped to strengthen their credibility.
The real risk of social networking is its capacity to suck up hours of time in a blink of an eye, and at the end of a day spent entirely on the computer, you may be no closer to your job search goal.
Does that mean you should abandon your social networking efforts? Absolutely not!
Social networking is a useful tool in your job search arsenal. When somebody Googles your name, you need to be findable (and not just in your cousin’s wedding pictures). When a recruiter Boolean searches keywords in your area of expertise, you need to rank high in the search returns. The contributions you make to online conversations, the information you share, the contacts you make can go a long way to cementing your reputation as must-hire candidate. Some of the contacts that you make online can evolve into strong, positive connections in the real-world.
But social networking needs to be one arm of a well thought out and executed job search strategy that includes cold calling companies (read Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0 for innovative ideas on how), conducting industry research so that can identify and even create opportunities, attending industry events, lunching with former colleagues and clients, and giving back to the community.
My social networking recommendation for job seekers:
Schedule time for social networking, and when the time is up, have the self-discipline to push away from the computer. Spend time each day working on the real-world connections that result in job offers. If you don’t, then chances are that while your job search competitor is being on-boarded for his new position, you will be trying to unglue eyelids that have lost the capacity to blink.
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