Today’s job search has become easier due to the rise of social media platforms. As with the advent of any new platform there are always pros as well as cons, and treading on the side of discretion always helps. From the social sharing of Facebook to the micro-blogging of twitter, to the business network LinkedIn, Social media is vast becoming an integrated part of our lives. With Jobs at an all time low, and hundreds of candidates applying for choice jobs, it’s not surprising that many job seekers turn to social media to hunt down and secure employment. In the web 2.0 industry – where social media plays such an integral role – the perfect job could be only be a tweet away! Don’t just Job-Search, do Target-Search! In his Book – What Color Is Your Parachute? Richard Bolles discusses that the majority of jobs aren’t advertised. They’re filled by people in the employer’s network – professional known and trusted. Social media gives you the unique opportunity to integrate yourself into an employer’s network, thereby increasing your chances of being offered a job. First, narrow your search. Choose 5-10 companies you’d particularly like to work for. Concentrate your efforts on a few select companies, rather than spamming hundreds of inboxes. Next, find each company’s website. From that site, link up to their social networking accounts (usually on Twitter and Facebook). You can start reading and commenting on their posts and tweets if you like. Research key people within the company – the people you’d love to work for, and find their social networking accounts. Often, they’re linking from the main company website, or you can Google their names and titles to see if they have a blog or Facebook page. You don’t need a PHD in social science to be able to do this! Once you find them, start talking to them – don’t ask for a job, just start commenting on their blog posts, asking questions in their twitter feed, and even sending emails. Don’t bombard them, or you’ll come across like a stalker, but do make an effort to demonstrate you’re genuinely interested in their company and the work they do. Everyone likes to know their work is enjoyed and appreciated. Telling someone how awesome you think they are automatically gives you brownie points. Contributing something to the discussion shows you’re engaged with the topic and have thought about their arguments. Asking a question about their thesis, supplying a link to another source or proposing a new idea for them to think about can be great ways to engage a conversation. Don’t be afraid to disagree with their opinions, as long as you voice your responses in a pleasant manner. Always refute points, not people. You could be talking to your future boss, so tread carefully. Foster these connections and grow your network through continued interaction and helpful, interesting discussion. You’re no longer just a name on a resume, but a genuine person with real value, views and experience. You’ve built up a level of trust and, when a job offer opens up; you can assert your interest before it’s even advertised in a job search site. It’s not uncommon to see web companies tweeting “Web designer needed: fte, SF, funky up-and-coming digital startup. Personal Branding Using social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogging to create your own personal brand you can also put yourself in the unique position of having employers contact you. With a prominent image and a reputation as a niche expert, you could attract the very jobs you want. The best way to brand yourself as an expert is to start a blog and become a provider of top-quality, useful and informative content. Writing a successful blog (like this one) involves committing a huge chunk of time to crafting unique, creative and useful articles, as well as setting up a blog, designing the template, monitoring comments, and promoting the blog through guest posts and comments on other blogs. By blogging about topics you’re passionate about, whether that’s web design, social media, online marketing or developing computer games, not only will your writing demonstrate your passion and commitment much better than a standard CV, but you’ll attract employers looking for people with just the skills you have. It takes a lot of work to create a successful blog, but as a long-term career goal, a blog can prove an invaluable networking resource. Here are some tips from the folks at LinkedIn. Problems with Social Media Whether you’re blogging, tweeting, Facebooking or Linking In, remember social media can hurt your job search just as much as it can help. The lines between your personal and business life have blurred, and photographs and gossip shared between friends can be seen by potential employers. Many people use two Facebook / Twitter accounts – one for friends and family only, which is strictly private and not advertised, and one for networking / business, which is still personable without all the ranting / incriminating photographs. This technique works well for many people, but be aware photographs and information from private accounts can still be hacked and distributed. Here are a few pitfalls that you will need to avoid. Lying about your work history and qualifications: Doing this in any way, shape or form is a NO-GO! The rise of social media profiles makes it a lot easier for potential employers to catch false information. Nobody likes a cheater! Your work experience, as shown on LinkedIn or Facebook, should match the resume that you hand to employers. Your information should be consistent across all networks. Posting offensive comments anywhere social: Any use of profanity or offensive language will reflect negatively upon you, so avoid status updates and comments that could be interpreted as racist, sexist, criminal or discriminatory in any way (even if you assume that no one would take it seriously…someone could, and that someone shouldacoulda been your boss.) Badmouthing a former employer, colleague, supervisor…etc: This should be a no-brainer, but surprisingly enough, many people still air-out dirty laundry about past or current employment situations without considering the consequences. If you give someone the impression that you’ll badmouth them once you part ways, it’s unlikely they’ll even consider you. Also, beware the “I’m so bored,” or “this work stinks” posts. They reek of “lazy bum.” And, of course, revealing any snippet of confidential company information is 100% off-limits. Not doing well with your grammar: Yes, even with 140 characters in a tweet, using correct grammar is key! How many job postings do you see with “strong written and/or verbal communication skills” as requirements? These aren’t optional anymore. So don’t make a poor first impression by using subpar grammar. If your Facebook posts are consistently sporting spelling errors, incorrect usage, or odd abbreviations, potential employers don’t ignore them. Check your grammar and spelling to make sure that it’s top notch. Sharing questionable pictures: Whenever you upload a new photo, keep in mind that the wrong picture could easily go viral. Your friends might decide to share the pictures on their (public) networks. Or, even worse, they tagged you, and now all someone has to do is type your name into a search engine, and viola… look at you. Don’t let this happen. Adjust your privacy settings so prior approval of tags is required, and keep any inappropriate pictures offline (and as far away from potential employers as possible). What’s “inappropriate”? See grandma rule from former blog! Venting, venting…and more venting: We understand that there are days where you need to let off some steam, but as tempting as it may be to express your anger and frustration with 1000 of your closest friends on Facebook or Twitter, it may come back to haunt you. Think potential employers may see it as a sign of emotional instability? (Duh.) So if you’re angry or upset, give yourself time to cool off, or go to the gym and sweat it out. Never post anything in the heat of the moment. Oversharing: Social networks encourage you to share information with your friends, but there are limits. One way to avoid this is to not make your online presence all about you. Share some interesting articles and videos. That way you’ll show that you have something meaningful to say other than what’s on TV tonight or what your doctor says about your intestinal problems. In short: know what to share, when to share it and with whom. Maintain a level of professional aloofness by limiting the content you upload. Joining questionable groups or discussions: Who doesn’t enjoy networking with like-minded people? If you are actively searching for a job in a certain field, joining industry related discussions and groups is a great way of showing initiative and passion for a field. However, be careful about the more ‘casual’ groups you are joining. If you belong to “I don’t get drunk, I get awesome!” you might want to reconsider the talents you boast to the online universe. And, clearly, any discriminatory groups fall under the category of bad idea! All the best with your dream job search!