Feature: Will Social Networking Get You a Job?

Feature: Will Social Networking Get You a Job?

Feature: Will Social Networking Get You a Job?

Networking is one of the best strategies for finding a new or better job. Right? Right.

And, social networking clearly involves networking. Right? Right.

So, social networking is the new and improved way to land the job of your dreams. Right? Wrong.

It’s hard to miss the buzz about social networking. The media has been all agog over the rapid rise of such sites as Friendster.com, Orkut.com and Tribe.net. And, while what happens at those sites is indeed networking, the key word in the activity is “social.” The contacts and connections are mostly about finding a date, mate or long lost relative. That may be a ton of fun, but it’s not going to get you hired.

e-Networking is the term I’ve traditionally used to describe electronic or online networking, but given the rise of the social networking sites, I’ve decided to re-define it as “employment networking.” It’s different from its social cousin in three important ways:

  • It has a different purpose;
  • It is done differently; and
  • It takes place on different sites.
  • Let’s explore each of those distinctions further.

    It has a different purpose

    As I mentioned above, social networking has a social goal: to find a date, to connect with someone with whom you share a hobby or other interest, or to expand your circle of friends with friends of your friends. e-Networking, on the other hand, is done to connect you with those who can help you land a new or better job. These include current and former colleagues, former bosses and business contacts, and recruiters. There may be a social component to the interaction, but its goal is employment, pure and simple.

    It is done differently

    Social networking is designed to promote easy introductions and casual conversations in cyberspace. Think of it as a virtual Truman Show-like experience where people happily and pleasantly meet and greet one another via e-mail. There’s no obligation to participate, however, no downside to not participating and no performance standard to be met if you do participate.

    e-Networking, in contrast, requires active participation, and the quality of your effort will determine the return you achieve from your investment of time. Why is that? Because in employment networking, the Golden Rule is that you have to give as good as you get. In other words, you have to share your knowledge, information and expertise if you want others to share theirs.

    No less important, that sharing must be done regularly so that it builds familiarity and trust among those with whom you interact. Their confidence (in you) reassures them that they can safely refer you to a business friend or colleague. Why is that an issue? Because sharing friends on a social networking site is not particularly risky; but putting someone in touch with a business contact can be harmful to one’s reputation or even to one’s own employment, if that person turns out to be less than business-like.

    Finally, e-networking is also the way you build a professional persona online. The quality of your messages paints a portrait of your expertise and character. And, when those communications occur in the public domain-say in a discussion forum or on a bulletin board covering technical or business issues-they are “assessment instruments” that a growing number of recruiters use to evaluate prospects and pinpoint the best talent.

    It takes place on different sites

    Given that the purpose of e-networking is to find a new or better job and that it’s done with regular, carefully crafted business messages to one’s colleagues and contacts, where you do it is an important consideration. I believe that the best e-networking venues are the discussion forums and bulletin boards at the sites operated by:

  • your national and state-level professional associations;
  • your national and state-level trade groups;
  • your technical school, college, and/or graduate school alumni organizations;
  • and

  • certain affinity sites that may be important to recruiters (e.g., women in technology, African American certified public accountants, veterans).
  • If you need some help identifying the sites of key associations and trade groups, try the Association Directory at my site. It lists over 10,000 such groups and is organized by career field and industry. Best of all, access to the Directory is absolutely free.

    Please don’t misread all of the above as a criticism of social networking; it’s not. But social networking does take time, and it won’t advance your job search. So, here’s my suggestion: first, devote some serious energy to e-networking and, when that’s done, then relax with a little social networking … or, better yet, get out and meet the neighbors.

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    CareerWomen.com conducted a survey to determine the top five reasons that women are changing jobs these days. It found that the number one cause was family obligations. After that, it was to expand opportunities, to create higher earning potential, to relocate, and to deal with job burn out. In every one of these instances (including the first-dealing with family obligations), it’s important to stay connected with friends and colleagues. Use e-networking (see above) to keep them apprised of your progress and to expand your contacts … whether you’re waiting for the kids to get home from school or seeking a better paying position with a new firm.

    CareerBuilder.com announced the launch of a new service called SureCheck. It enables job seekers to pre-screen themselves for statewide criminal and civil history, address history and Social Security number verification for a one-time fee. According to the site, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 80% of employers are now running background checks on their candidates, so getting it out of the way in advance may improve one’s marketability.

    Management Recruiters International reported the results of a survey of 685 business executives which indicates that the jobless expansion may be about to add some ads. Almost half of the respondents (47.6%) said they plan to hire additional mid-to upper-level managers and professionals this year, a respectable 10%+ increase over 2003. Where will they go to find this talent? While they will surely post some of their openings on the major job boards (Yahoo! HotJobs, Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com), they’ll advertise some of their best opportunities on niche sites that specialize in a certain career field, industry and/or location. How can you figure out which sites to check? Start with the winners of WEDDLE’s 2004 User’s Choice Awards; recruiters and job seekers alike said they were the best on the Web.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology released the results of its annual survey of the inventions we hate most, but can’t live without. The winners are: the cell phone (identified by 30% of respondents), alarm clocks (25%), television (23%) and razors (14%). Others on the list include microwave ovens, computers and answering machines. My vote, however, goes to the VCR. I love to watch movies but can’t figure out how to use all of the machine’s functions or even how to get it to work with my remote. Worst of all, my kids have absolutely no problem getting it to do everything they want.

    Monster.com announced the findings of the first six months of its Monster Employment Index, a monthly report of online job demand in the United States. According to the index, job opportunities were up in wholesale trade, retail trade, manufacturing, financial services and educational services as well as in the healthcare industry. The occupations most in demand were sales, business and financial operations, computer/IT support, general management and administrative support. And best of all, the job growth was reported in every Census region of the country. What’s the key to taking advantage of this growing demand? Be “interview ready” at all times. That means you should be keeping yourself up-to-date on the latest issues and ideas in your profession, craft or trade as well as on the latest news in your industry and geographic area. In short, it’s too late to prepare once the recruiter has called.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. Donald Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice” has inspired you to look for a new job where you can make use of your MBA degree. If your job search relied on this site, however, you’re more likely to hear “You’re Fired.”

  • MBAjobs.net
  • MBAaction.com
  • ForeignMBA.com
  • MBAworkers.com
  • 2. If you’re a statistician looking to work for a polling company during the upcoming elections, which of the following sites would definitely be a miscalculation?

  • Amstat.org
  • Statistics.com
  • Math-jobs.com
  • Stats.com
  • 3. You’re an auto mechanic looking for a new position with a local garage; which of the following sites would turn your job search into a lemon?

  • EmploymentGuide.com
  • TruckinJobs.com
  • AutoJobs.com
  • NeedTechs.com
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2004 Guides and Directories

    JobsinME.com

    www.jobsinme.com

    A WEDDLE’s 2004 User’s Choice Award Winner

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – Part time, Contract

    Distribution of jobs: Regional: USA-Maine

    Number of jobs: 3,588

    Salary levels of jobs: $51-75K/year, $76-100K/year

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: 360 days

    Restrictions on who can post: Registered on site, those in a certain industry

    Other services for job seekers: Career/job search information, Confidentiality feature in resume database

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. MBAaction.com, the site of the Mountain Bike Association

    2. Stats.com, a site for those interested in sports statistics

    3. None of them; they all support recruiting for auto technicians and mechanics

    N

    N

    N

    N