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How to Boost Job Contacts with Online Social Networking

8 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Job Search Tools

Job seekers and employers are now using business-oriented online social networking sites (such as LinkedIn), where people post career profiles and recruiters search for prospective employees. The only way to understand the newfangled online social networking sites is to use them. With a little practice, it’s easy.

Some online networking sites are free of charge; others charge fees for contacting other members and certain other services. A few are fee only.

What's an online networking service?

Online networking services offer you help in three ways:

  • Enabling you to locate contacts, who, working inside a company you covet, are a potential source of referrals, names of managers, tips on company culture, hiring mode, and other useful information. You may have to hop from one person’s profile to another to another and so forth until you reach your objective.

  • Helping find managers in a company to whom you can send your unsolicited resume (after breaking the ice with an exchange of e-mail; a resume sent out of the blue likely will be considered spam mail and deleted).

  • Introducing you to recruiters, who can see your profile in a virtual networking service and contact you.

LinkedIn is the best known of the business-oriented virtual networks. Others with a business focus include Jobster, Ryze, Ecademy, and ExecuNet.

Eons is a virtual network for Americans aged 50-plus, with broad content that sometimes includes job suggestions. Classmates.com is more for “that old gang of mine” connections but sports a work-and-career section where you can look for acquaintances by company. Zoominfo isn't a virtual network, but can deliver some of the same results for job seekers in that it is a search engine for discovering people, companies, and relationships.

Indiscreet postings on a social network can mean really big trouble for job seekers. Many employers review profiles on social networking sites when considering candidates for jobs. The safest bet is to assume future employers will read everything you post, including extreme political or religious views and rants on any controversial topic. Here’s an easy guideline to stay out of job market trouble: Treat every online profile with the respect you give a resume.

Getting started with online networking services

Think about online networking as comfortable connectivity. Instead of dealing with faceless strangers whom you wouldn’t know if you tripped over them, you deal with individuals you now or soon will know, and whose faces you can see and identify.

The essential process to hook up with an online social network follows this pattern:

  1. Someone who’s already in the network invites you to join.

    You may also be able to join without an invite — most virtual networks also let users join on their own.

  2. After selecting a virtual network that appears to include your kind of people, register, create a password and fill in a career profile.

    For privacy and safety, do not include your street address in your profile.

  3. Explore the range of other network members who have registered with the service.

  4. Make contacts as appropriate to your job search.

The job referral sites themselves are your best source of additional information.

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