Decoding social media for a first-time job seeker

BY SAMANTHA NOLAN Modified: September 27, 2012 at 11:41 am •  Published: September 28, 2012
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Dear Sam: I am conducting my first job search in 20+ years and while I think I have the online job search figured out, what I am expected to do with social media escapes me. What should I be utilizing to help my search? – Jeff

Dear Jeff: Really great question and one I hear quite often from both novice and seasoned job seekers. There are many “social media” tools you can utilize in your search; but given you are just getting started, I would stick to building a more robust presence on LinkedIn.

Think of LinkedIn as a virtual Rolodex. Not only is LinkedIn a tool you can use to keep tabs on your own contacts (called “connections” on LinkedIn), but it also provides you with the ability to connect with your contacts’ connections and their connections. For example, through my 1,200+ LinkedIn connections, I am “linked” to more than 7 million professionals! Even if you have a contact list of 50, just think about how many people those 50 connections know and, likewise, all of their connections. In addition, your connections can write recommendations validating your work at each of your professional engagements, providing potential employers with immediate evidence of your performance and character.

So what do you do with all of these connections? Once you have a profile—fueled by the content of your résumé—you can search LinkedIn based on keywords. So if you are wanting to work at a certain company, search LinkedIn by company and you will see with whom you are connected or have the potential to be connected, who could possibly provide insight into the company, the opportunity, or perhaps provide a referral. You can also use LinkedIn to benchmark your candidacy by searching for peers in your industry and reviewing their profiles. There is even a LinkedIn Jobs page with thousands of opportunities listed.

Another powerful element of LinkedIn is that it provides the opportunity to join virtual groups. Through these groups, you can become privy to recruiting opportunities, follow message board feeds of interest, and connect with other like-minded professionals. These groups can be displayed as part of your profile and can often help reinforce the tone of your candidacy. Check out the LinkedIn Learning Center for more information on utilizing this tool in your search: http://learn.linkedin.com/job-seekers/

Dear Sam: I am a college student seeking an internship. You state that when it comes to constructing a résumé, the objective statement should be omitted. I was wondering if the same rule applies to résumés for internships. – Ngoc

Dear Ngoc: Yes, the same rule does apply to any résumé, regardless of whether you are submitting it for an internship or a full-time professional engagement. The goal of a résumé is to showcase what you can do for the employer based on past experience, successes, or credentials. An objective statement does exactly the opposite in that it focuses on what you want to do. In today’s job searches and candidate-saturated market, employers do not have time—at least not in the initial screening process—to be overly concerned with what it is that each candidate is looking for. By virtue of applying for the role, you are communicating your interest, so spend the most important real estate on your résumé—the top third of page one—focused on what is unique about your background, experience, skills, and abilities that position you as qualified and right for the role.

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