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Social Media for Job Seekers

by John Nicholson, Resumes That Jump
Originally published: Aug 7, 2009

There's plenty of hype about how social media can help job seekers. As with other discussions of social media, this one can be overwhelming, annoying, and tempting to dismiss as another fad. Don't. There's something very real and important going on with social networks and, whether you're looking for a job or just want to advance in your career, they can help.

No, you don't have to jump on every online network that pops up -- for most people that's a mistake. But you should be familiar with what's out there and try out two of the big ones: LinkedIn and Facebook. Here's why.

The Strength of Weak Ties

If you're like most people, you assume that friends or close colleagues are the best source for finding new jobs. And since your already see and talk to these "strong ties" on a regular basis, you probably don't see the need to embrace online social networks as a career tool. But social network research shows that acquaintances, not friends, are the best source for finding new jobs (and lots of other things), because these "weak ties" travel in different circles and have access to information that you don't.

The beauty of sites like LinkedIn and Facebook is they magnify this "strength of weak ties". They make it easy to maintain a connection with that friend from middle school or that co-worker from ten years ago, and therefore give you a much bigger pool of acquaintances to tap into when you need career help.

How to Get Started

If you're new to social websites, start with LinkedIn and focus first on completing your profile, growing your network, and getting some quality recommendations, which are much more credible than typical references because they're public. Then grow your network on Facebook, which while not career-focused will open up a much wider circle of acquaintances. Once you have strong networks on both, start using status updates, Introductions (on LinkedIn), and other features to tap into their knowledge and connections.