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"Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life."
We all wish for such a job, if only it was as easy to find. The problem is not whether such jobs exist -- they do -- but in landing them. Positions advertised in newspapers or job sites and those available through recruiters may not be what you're looking for, and the same goes for companies on the lookout for talent.
Enter social media. The hottest development on the internet in the last few years has become a place for people to meet, make friends, share personal stories, exchange information -- and get ahead in their careers. These include casual networking sites like Facebook and Orkut as well as professional ones like LinkedIn and Ryze.
Realising their potential, smart headhunters have ensured the have a presence on these sites as they go about their search for the right candidate. LinkedIn, by far the biggest professional networking site with over 14 million users, has over 200,000 recruiters registered. Scanning profiles of people registered on social media, these HR professionals are often able to find candidates who may otherwise have not been traceable. And these are only those actively looking for a change. Often, these sites throw up people who are in the job market only passively, or waiting for a job they would love.
"The fundamental value of LinkedIn is allowing aspiring professionals access to unlimited career opportunities across these large growth organisations. It bridges the gap between great companies looking to add top-tier talent, and people only available to the perfect opportunity at their dream company," says Brendon Cassidy, Director of Corporate Sales, LinkedIn on the site's official blog.
So, how do you make social media work for your career? Here are a few tips to get you going:
~ Create accounts on select social media sites. It's best to choose a professional one (strongly recommend LinkedIn) and a casual one (choose between Orkut, Facebook and MySpace). Don't spread yourself thin by being on too many sites.
~ Let your profile make a statement: When you fill out details about yourself on your account, make it not only complete but also compelling enough for others to take note. Add all relevant information about your education, career so far, achievements, interests, hobbies, recommendations from others, photographs, links to your blogs and more. Everything counts when it is your dream job you are after.
~ It's not only professional sites that matter: The belief, not unfounded, so far was to use professional networking sites like LinkedIn and Ryze for recruitments. No longer -- even other social media positioned more for personal exchanges, dating, posting photographs etc are being scanned by recruiters to identify people or run background checks. You are being watched -- make sure you put your best face forward.
~ Your network matters: Social sites are only as effective as your network of contacts. The right mix of quality, relevance and quantity can optimise the benefits to you. Recruiters might also be calling upon some of your contacts for a reference check -- having the right network becomes all the more important.
"I am at a stage where I am looking at new jobs and LinkedIn has been instrumental in getting me in touch with some people in the industry. I cannot say that I have bagged the job of my dreams as yet, but I am pretty confident it won't be long," says Vandana Bagri* who moved to the US a few years back to work in the fashion industry.
~ Get discovered through active participation: Doing all of the above is fine, but lying dormant on these sites will not do much for your cause. Be an active participant on the various features offered here. The LinkedIn Q&A section is one where members exchange knowledge and expertise -- and thus get to know others better and improving chances of being discovered.
"I met someone through the LinkedIn Q&A section who asked a question regarding a technical topic of interest to me in hardware design. We started conversing via email, and it turned out he was the director of US operations for a European company designing EDA tools in the very area that I am interested in working. I quasi-interviewed via email (including with one of the founders), and now I am awaiting a formal job offer," says Matt Andrews, a US-based hardware engineer.
~ Recommend and seek recommendations: Some of these sites allow members to recommend one another for their professional capabilities. Seek some for yourself -- it boosts your profile. And don't be stingy in doing so for others either. It's all about give and take, fostering relationships in the process.
~ Seek out the employer you want: These sites are not only about someone finding you; they give you an opportunity to network with people in the right companies when you are actively seeking a change.
Normally you may not be able to just send an email to these people -- but if you approach them through your network, chances of a response go up dramatically.
"I am using social media seeking a job opportunity in the US. I am currently based in India and looking to migrate. I am in touch with recruiters who are currently working within my target companies, and who are open to networking," says Rohit Chugh*, a professional based in Mumbai. "There are a lot of recruiters out there who are open to finding quality candidates through such sites and are extremely responsive. Within the first three months itself, I received six job leads and landed four telephonic interviews. This would not have been possible through conventional channels."
Some additional advantages of using social media for career advancements
Dan Nye did not post his resume anywhere. Nor did he go out seeking a job. He was discovered by a certain gent named Reid Hoffman. Who are these people? Mr Nye is now the CEO of LinkedIn and Mr Hoffman is its founder and chairman.
Are you ready to be discovered on social media?
*Names changed to protect privacy.
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