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How to IM in a Job Search

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

Use instant messaging (IM) services as a job search tool to receive real-time or near real-time job postings. An IM service enables you to send resumes and messages to anyone on your buddy list or contact list (the IM version of an address book), as long as that person is online.

What's IM?

IM is a quicker-than-e-mail alternative for online communication. IM enables you to chat online with another person in real time by typing messages back and forth. With an instant messaging service, you can see when others (who are also subscribed to the same service, generally for free) are online.

Examples of IM messages you might send to your buddy list include these:

I’m looking for a sales job. Not retail. Here’s a resume. Can anyone push it around?
I’m trying to get hired in accounting by XYZ Corp. Know anyone inside who could walk my resume to HR or acct. mgr?
Have you seen any great job postings for insurance claims adjusters? Pls advise.
Who just interviewed for job you don’t want? Maybe I do. Try me.

If you're ready to use IM as a job search tool, consider these tips:

  • Adopt a professional-sounding IM screen name. If you already have a goofy IM screen name (like nocrapola, 60isnew40, or girlgonewild), set up a new IM account used only for job searching with a no-nonsense moniker.

  • Add your IM information to your job search account at online job sites, social or business networks, and job referral services that support the technology.

Hacking is a dark side of computer security problems like worms, viruses, and other Internet ills that already plague e-mail. The number of “poisoned” instant messages is exploding, in part because of trust expectations. Although smart computer users know not to open suspicious e-mail, they’re more trusting of a message sent from someone on their IM buddy list. Solution: Install antivirus software designed specifically for IM programs.

Getting started with IM

When you're ready to start with instant messaging, use these steps to download an instant messaging program:

  1. Choose one or more of the more popular instant messaging services:

    AOL Instant Messenger

    MSN Messenger

    Yahoo! Messenger

    ICQ

    Google Talk

    Internet Relay Chat

    The more technically minded IMer who wants to be in several IM spaces at once can use free or inexpensive software, such as Trillian or Pidgin to help you keep it all straight.

  2. Add buddies to your buddy list.

    For job search purposes, the more the merrier.

  3. Begin chatting away and building your network.

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