With the rapidly growing use of social networking for job search, we’ll be using the KIT List blog to share ideas on how to best use these powerful tools. My friend, MB Deans, whom I’ve known for years through Women In Consulting, has become an expert in advising job seekers on how to effectively navigate the waters of social media. I’ve asked MB to give our KIT List community a few pointers:
Between December, 2008 and January, 2009, traffic on LinkedIn grew by 22% in the US, while time spent on the site doubled. In spite of the furor over Facebook’s Terms of Service agreements, more professionals are using Facebook than ever before. Twitter, a microblog, is gaining popularity as a tool to help job seekers. The lines between social use of Web 2.0 and business or professional uses are blurring, especially as more and more people turn to technology to help them find jobs. Recruiters have used LinkedIn to research job candidates for a long time, but in 2007, 15% of the recruiters hiring college grads used Facebook to check into their backgrounds. Savvy companies use Twitter more and more to attract, research and recruit new employees. But the rules are still evolving and etiquette isn’t always clear. While these tools are very different from each other, there are some common-sense guidelines that can help you navigate these new waters successfully.
Seven Important Rules to Follow
1. Start first with LinkedIn. If you don’t know where to begin and Web 2.0 is all Greek to you, start with the granddaddy, LinkedIn. Create a free account and enter profile information.
2. If you’re an active online networker, assume the entire world is watching. Once those annoying party photos are posted you have no way of knowing who might have seen them. If you wouldn’t want to explain it to your boss, a prospective employer or your mom…
3. Be interesting. Post links or retweet information you found intriguing, entertaining and/or useful. Share generously and you shall be rewarded.
4. Set clear boundaries between your professional and personal lives. Make sure security settings are appropriate to protect personal information.
5. Don’t give away more information than you’re comfortable with. Listen to that little voice in your head. If you’re not sure you should post something — don’t do it!
6. Figure out and follow the etiquette of the group(s) you’ve joined. Lurk for a while until you understand the unwritten rules of how people communicate. Post carefully and be willing to take feedback gracefully if you violate group norms.
7. Always act professionally. Always. You know those old email rules warning you that no one can see your face, ready your body language, or hear the tone of your voice? They’re especially true in the instant-response world of social networking. Always take the high road.
8. Check what the world sees and hears about you. Search for yourself by name in Facebook and on Twitter, and see what comes up. While there’s no going back, do clean up what you can.
Top 5 Things Guaranteed to Turn Off Your Audience
1. Making it all about you. Nobody (outside of your mother and maybe your closest friend) cares what you ate for breakfast, whether the baby spit up last night, or whether your new puppy demolished your apartment.
2. Stalking someone else on line. Don’t harass someone; if they’re not interested in connecting with you, move on.
3. Broadcasting strong or controversial opinions to an audience you don’t know. In spite of the fact that you can watch worldwide tweets scroll down your screen in the writers’ native languages, you don’t know who’s out there reading. And it’s a small world.
4. Misrepresenting yourself. Another downside to having a global audience: the darnedest people will find you at the darnedest times. Claim something that’s not rightfully yours and you’ve damaged your credibility to all.
5. Posting inappropriate information about someone else. Listen to that little voice in your ear: could you explain it to your grandmother?
MB Deans leads a team of coaches and writers who support professionals in career transition. Douglas Partners stays current with the latest job search tools and trends, and has recently created a popular series of workshops teaching individuals how to successfully use LinkedIn, social networking and Web 2.0 tools to build their business and career options. As an adjunct advisor with Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, MB works with graduate students helping them prepare for their careers.