By Veronica Fielding
With unemployment rates on the rise, companies can afford to be more selective about the people they hire. It's becoming more common for recruiters and hiring managers to value a candidate's presence on popular social networks, in addition to traditional qualifications such as a strong resume and interview skills. Job seekers who want a competitive edge in this market are turning to alternative online channels to catch the attention of potential employers and find new job openings before the general public does.
If you want to expand your job search efforts to include popular social sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, here are some beginners' tips for managing your personal brand and uncovering the hidden opportunities that these networks can offer:
As explained by certified career counselor Susan Guarneri, "With more and more employers and recruiters turning to LinkedIn to research candidates for their job openings, building and maintaining a professional, credible and persuasive LinkedIn profile is no longer optional if you want to fast-forward your job search." LinkedIn is rapidly becoming a vital tool for job seekers, in all stages of their careers.
If you already have a Facebook profile that you use to keep in touch with friends and family, you need to decide whether you want to also use it for professional networking. If the answer is yes, you'll need to make some changes that ensure it gives a favorable impression to potential employers. That means you should remove any photos or comments that would be considered not "work safe." Alternately, if you don't want to use Facebook for professional networking, you should adjust your account's privacy settings so that you won't have to worry about employers stumbling across your profile.)
Twitter isn't just for staying in touch with friends and family – it's also a fantastic networking and research tool. Get the inside scoop on companies that you're interested in by networking with their employees and recruiters. You can also learn more about a particular company by following the updates from its official Twitter profile.
Online social networking can help to position you for the next phase in your career by enhancing your personal brand and exposing you to opportunities that you might not have come across otherwise. While the tips we've presented here are good starting points, there are many more things you can do to get the most out of your online job search efforts. More advice on networking, online or otherwise, can be found in CareerCast.com's networking section or at Jumpstart Social Media.