8.4 Social Networking

Caroline Ceniza-Levine and Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio

Radical transparency, the ability to see personal information in cyberspace, was the phrase corporate firms used decades ago when they finally opened their books up to public scrutiny. Now, this phrase pertains to the radical transparency you experience by using social networking sites.

Facebook was started as a tool for college students, but companies started to enter this space in the 1990s. Companies, namely recruiters, started looking at Facebook pages and MySpace accounts when considering candidates for open positions. In fact, 40 percent or more of college admissions counselors reviewed Facebook pages before admitting candidates to their colleges and 40 percent of those who looked were not impressed by what they saw. Employers now review Facebook accounts before making hiring decisions.

A word of caution to all: Ensure your digital dirt (any unflattering personal information in cyberspace) is cleaned up. Your Facebook page should be professional and seek to impress anyone who reviews it, especially future employers.

Recruiters Use Social Networks

A high majority of recruiters use online social networks, such as LinkedIn, to find candidates, so job seekers absolutely need to take advantage of these tools. However, so many options are available and they are all so time consuming that job seekers risk being overwhelmed.

Make a Choice and Go Deep

Rather than spending a little time here and there on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, or building a personal website, decide what you want to accomplish and research your options to see what best suits your objectives. Devote the bulk of your time to the area that will most help you accomplish your objectives.

Place an Overall Time Limit on Online Search Activities

A thorough job search encompasses many different activities, including research, expanding your network, following up with your existing network, updating your contact database, troubleshooting your search, and more. Online networking is helpful for research, networking, and maintaining contact information, so it is worth a substantive time commitment, but not all of your time.

Offline Networking Etiquette Still Applies

The most successful online networkers share much in common with successful offline networkers. You can do several things to match their success. Be respectful of people’s time. Write engaging (and grammatically correct) business communications. Ask intelligent questions. Focus on giving and helping others. Remember that online social media is one tool in the broad umbrella of networking, and common sense networking etiquette still applies.

Social Networking Is Not Just about Networking

LinkedIn and Facebook are referred to as social networking, so most job seekers use them primarily or even exclusively as networking tools. However, social networks are valuable at every stage of the job search, not just networking.

Social Networks Help with Target Identification

Use the detailed profiles in LinkedIn to get a better understanding of different job functions and career paths. If you think you want to work in corporate philanthropy, find people who have these jobs and review their experience, skills, and projects. Use what you learn as a guide to what you might need in your career, or at least as good issues to research.

Research Companies and Industries

Again using the profile data, pay attention to how people talk about their work. Projects on which people are working hold invaluable clues to deciphering exactly what a company does, especially when it is a small, privately held company with little published information about clients or projects. Group discussions that occur between group members on LinkedIn.com., are another way to get a sense for a company or industry. Find a company alumni group or industry niche and follow the discussions or ask questions.

Gather Salary Data

Use the Q&A function or specific group discussions on LinkedIn to collect data on salary, lifestyle, growth prospects, and other useful information for your own offer negotiation. Many geographies and industries are represented on online social networks, so you can specify exactly what you are looking for and likely find a close proxy.

License

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Introduction to Professional Development by Caroline Ceniza-Levine and Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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