Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Using social networking to find a job

By Kevin L. Nichols

Often times, when people hear the term “social networking” or the names of such Web sites like MySpace, Facebook or Twitter, various stereotypes and propaganda begin to regurgitate in their minds of all the horror stories that they have heard or read about in the news, from the media, from family/friends and other places.

In some circles, these sites have been equated to the devil reincarnated. However, in others, they are quintessential and indispensable tools used to weather our present global economic crisis.

Imagine that the nation’s unemployment rate is nearly the highest that it has ever been, California’s is even worst and that thousands of resumes are being sent to numerous employers for a handful of positions available. Keep in mind that in this pool of applicants, many of them have been laid off for several months and some with executive-level experience are looking to just put food on their tables. How does one distinguish him/herself from these applicants, especially given the fact that they most likely have the equivalent level or greater experience than he/she does? At least for now, gone are the days where what you knew got you where you needed to go. Now, it’s who you know that opens doors — thus, social networking comes into play.

I define social networking merely as facilitating the opportunity to connect with others on a multitude of levels, including intellectual, political, spiritual, social, environmental or economic levels. Meeting people and obtaining their contact information is only the first step in building a rapport with your contacts that may eventually lead to a business opportunity or job. Utilizing social networking sites can greatly increase your ability to get to know your contacts in various arenas without having to actually physically work beside them or even work directly with them at all.

Although there are different demographics that I use different sites for — MySpace for public relations development, Facebook for friends and family — for the purposes of this article, I will limit the discussion to LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com, which I encourage everyone to join. I have been using LinkedIn since at least 2006 and with it have had the most success at generating business leads and networking for career opportunities.

Essentially, LinkedIn shows that there really is about six degrees of separation from you and everyone else in the world. Millions of people add “connections” or contacts/colleagues from either school, current/previous employments or people who they have met in some other professional capacity. Members post an online resume of what school(s) they attended, where they work(ed) and what they do/did. People with whom you have worked or done business also can recommend you on your work for others to see. This is very useful if you have had the pleasure of working with/for extraordinary individuals with a lot of contacts and a great reputation. The most unique and advantageous part of this site is its ability to see other people’s connections that are either two or three degrees away from you. Here is how this works in the context of trying to find a job:

Five steps in using social networking to find a job

1. Create a LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com and add your contacts to your network.
2. Request recommendations from people you have worked for/with that you are certain will speak highly of you.
3. Find a job opening — visit www.indeed.com (which pulls from most of the job posting Web sites), www.craigslist.org or any other job posting website.
4. Once you have identified the appropriate opportunity for which you are qualified, type the company’s name in the “Search” field in LinkedIn to see who you know that either currently works or previously worked at that company to create an inroad or facilitate an introduction for you to the hiring manager for that position.
5. Request an introduction. Say that your friend Tim knows Jay, the communications director at XYZ, and you are applying for the communications manager opening at XYZ that reports to the director. Ask Tim to introduce you to Jay, and in your introduction, ask Jay if he is available to meet over coffee one day.

There is no foolproof way to get a job these days, but using your network to build relationships with people who you would not normally get the opportunity to meet is pretty exciting. These opportunities are increasing exponentially and it takes someone with enough drive, initiative and sometimes creativity to make the right connection that can one day change your life. Do not let what you have heard about social networking derail you from the possibility to make your professional aspirations become reality.

Kevin L. Nichols is an author and the president/CEO of KLN Publishing, located in San Francisco. For more information, visit http://klnpublishingllc.blogspot.com.

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1 comment:

Lenroy Jones said...

Great article! Straight and to the point...I hope that job seekers are taking advantage and reading this resources. Great information.