Note (er, make that tweet) to job seekers who haven't been on the market lately: Have you updated your social media profiles?
A July survey by e-recruitment firm Jobvite found that 92 percent of recruiters now use social networking in the hunt; 73 percent say they've hired through these channels. And even firms that don't use recruiters will be checking you out online. "Hiring managers are eavesdropping on social media conversations, doing searches on key words, and seeing what is being talked about," says Jeff Lipschultz, founder of the Southlake, Texas-based recruiting firm A-list Solutions. Here's how to shrewdly raise your profile:
Google yourself. Companies and potential contacts will check you out before responding to your request to connect or offering you an interview, and ideally, you want to be found easily. People go online to check out your social credibility, aka people you know in common and interests you share. If you have no presence, or everything is marked private, people "can't get comfortable with you," says social networking expert Tim Tyrell-Smith, who writes "Tim's Strategy," a popular blog. "If you make it hard for me to find you, it is less likely that I will respond to a request," he says.
Get linked in. One place to help you come out of hiding: The professional social network LinkedIn, which will get indexed on Google as long as you allow that setting. "LinkedIn has transformed the extent to which you can cast a wider net and reach people through secondary or third and fourth degrees," says Howard Seidel, a partner at executive career management firm Essex Partners in Boston. Some 75 percent of LinkedIn visitors are college educated, according to advertising technology firm Quantcast. And 27 percent of visitors earn over $100,000 annually.
Before you update your profile, click on settings and turn off notifications. You don't want everyone in your network receiving an email every time you change a comma. And don't just paste in your resume; instead write a brief, interesting introduction to what you do and have done, and how it's relevant to the type of job you want to do.
If you're trying to change careers, executive coach Julie Jansen, author of I Don't Know What I Want But I know It's Not This, suggests strategically asking people for brief recommendations noting your relevant talents and what's so great about you, or to click a button on your profile "endorsing" a particular skill. If you're in IT but want to move into marketing, for example, note some related projects you've done in your spare time, and ask for a recommendation based on them.
Based on your history, the site will suggest people to reach out to, and also prompt some to contact you. Don't accept invitations from people with whom you've had no interaction, experts advise. Could you really ask them for a favor? When you receive updates about people, respond occasionally, advises Jansen. "Then when you need something you're not just appearing out of the blue."
Consider Twitter. But if you don't have the time--about 15 minutes a day is ideal--it's best not to bother. "If you tweet once or twice and then leave it for weeks, that leaves an impression," says Jansen. You want your Twitter stream to project a unified message as someone who would be good to network with and someone other people can learn from.
To build your network, use Google to find principals of companies you'd like to work at and search Twitter for them. Before you follow anyone, though, write about 10 relevant, useful tweets to start with and send them out, recommends Deb Dib, aka the CEO Coach, and coauthor of The Twitter Job Search Guide. People you follow will check you out to see if they should reciprocate.
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What should those tweets say? Make them 75 percent professional, 25 percent personal. It's the personal that often creates the connection, says Dib, citing a recruiter who is a cycling enthusiast and likes to connect on Twitter with other cycling fans. Once the personal link is made, it can help your search.
For the professional tweets, you can make observations about blog posts or articles you've read, and judiciously retweet a comment you found interesting. Keep in mind that what's written on social media lives forever. "You can't be one personality on the forums and then decide to clean up your act when you need to get a job," says Lipschultz.
Twitter is unlikely to give you fast results, warns Dib. So "you have to start it way before you need it."