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Using Online Networking to Land a Job

By Marty Nemko

Finding a job is a numbers game. That means getting your info in front of many people who could help you land a job. That’s why sites such as Monster, Careerbuilder, and Linkedin are helpful. Thousands of employers use these sites to identify job candidates.

Unfortunately, job seekers who post on those sites start out with a strike against them: Employers tend to think, “If he’s so good, why does he have to post his resume?”

Social networking sites such as Myspace, Facebook, Friendster, and Match don’t have that disadvantage. Even many highly successful careerists want to enhance their social life, and online networking sites are a popular way to do it.

So imagine that you are an employer, who, after work, is playing around on a social networking site such as myspace. And in the process, you come upon a person whose profile mentions that, for example, that they love their work as a project manager in the video game industry.” Mightn’t you be more positively predisposed to employing that person than if you found him on an employment website such as Monster? After all, you’ve discovered the person rather than having been pitched with a resume.

Here are ways to make the most of social networking sites. I’ll use myspace as an example because it’s wildly popular, but the principles also apply to other social networking sites.

-- In the “About Me” section of your profile, first present your social and avocational self. Then, toss in something like, “I’m also passionate about my work as a marketing researcher in the food industry.” That’s all the bait you need to dangle.

If someone in a position to hire a marketing researcher comes across your profile, attracted to your picture or personal aspects of your profile, then reads about your career passion, and happens to need someone like you, you may well have instantly become the inside candidate. With millions of people searching myspace, that’s more likely to happen than you might think.

Don’t write more than a sentence or two about your professional life. Longer than that gives your ploy away.

-- In the “I’d Like to Meet…” section, first describe the sort of friend and/or romantic partner you’d like. Then, in just a sentence, say something like, “I’m also open to finding an employer who’d love a crackerjack marketing researcher.”

-- In the avocational questions (for example, My Favorite Heroes), answer truthfully, although you needn’t mention that your hero is your boyfriend who just kicked his heroin habit.

-- Include a photo both of your professional-looking and your after-work self. Be careful in choosing the latter. Dancing half nude with a brewski in each hand may not create the right impression.

-- Use the site’s search function to start online conversations with as many potential employers as possible. Only after a couple of social-only exchanges, and ideally, after the person asks about your worklife, should you hint that you might be open to a new job.

-- Build up a “friends” list by inviting your friends to join myspace and by using the site’s search functions. Myspace has a bulletin feature, which enables you to email notices to all your myspace “friends.” Send bulletins that might impress potential employers, for example, an upcoming speaking engagement or that you’d be happy to email people copies of an article you just wrote.

-- Get involved in the site’s groups and forums likely to be frequented by your target employer.

This article has talked about how to use social networking sites to land a job, but don’t be so focused on that that you don’t use them to have fun. They really are.

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