With 80-90% of all jobs filled through alternate means besides actual resume postings, the phrase bears repeating: You are who you know. That’s why social networking sites with a business edge such as undisputed industry leader LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) are so important. At LinkedIn you are judged, at least somewhat, by the company you keep. And if that company consists of people within your particular area of expertise, be they satisfied coworkers, distant associates who’ve come to know and like you through your business dealings, or higher-ups who appreciate your skill set, the prospects are bright should an opening become available. Why? Because LinkedIn is now so elephantine and so seemingly necessary in the business world that few people of importance don’t utilize it.
But to use LinkedIn effectively, you must go beyond the basics. A profile displaying your name, your occupation, and your American Idol fanaticism just won’t cut it. Instead, you need to pay attention to all the resources that are available to you (and there are a ton) and fully exploit them as well. Add a photo, include applicable job experience and education, create a resume, source referrals, don’t be afraid to say outright that you’re currently cruising for new opportunities, and do your best to connect with anyone and everyone with which you have a solid relationship. Be truthful, but come across as the important person you are to as many people as possible, and work toward building a winning “personal brand.” You are, after all, selling yourself.
Nor should you ignore standard social networking sites that don’t have as much of a professional clientele either. Business may not play quite the same role at Facebook, Twitter, et al as it does at LinkedIn, but the primary social networking sites are such dominant forces in so many aspects of today’s world that you can’t ignore the potential. Incorporate many of the same strategies on services such as Facebook, MySpace or Bebo that you’d use at LinkedIn, but be discreet. Make sure you use privacy features to limit who can see what, and remember that all the goodwill you build can be suddenly eradicated by a few wayward comments. In other words, detailing your sordid dating life or having a vengeful ex-wife or husband as a Facebook friend may not be the best of ideas. Conversely, maintaining a contact list stocked with people who speak favorably of you is a very good idea.
Also be sure to have a look at Plaxo.com as well. While the service – geared towards keeping professionals connected – may be dwindling in popularity as compared with LinkedIn in recent years, recall. You can never know too many people when it comes to today’s job search, or knock on enough doors. Keep making outreach using the means suggested above, and eventually the right one will open.
*Note: For additional job hunting insight, prospective hires should also have a look at our guides to the 10 best job hunting websites and job search engines and 2010 job hunting tips.