True confession: As a job search and career expert, I was skeptical about all of these social media tools as recently as four years ago. I separated professional networking from social networking and felt that the social sites were a waste of time.

That was flawed thinking! Now, I’m a convert and raving fan of social media for job search and career growth! Here’s why…

As a job seeker, you can no longer ignore your online presence. And, there are brand new ways to use Social Media to enhance and accelerate your job search.

“Social recruiting” is evolving and improving rapidly, so jump in NOW, because the only way to learn about it is to do it. Social media is just another element of your job search mix. Manage your expectations as well; social media connections are not a quick fix.

Benefits of Social Media to Job Seekers:

  • Be found. Social networking is simply preferred by recruiters and employers as a tool to uncover talent.
  • Identify and contact hiring managers.
  • Market and sell yourself and put yourself in front of as many people as possible.
  • Collect great research in preparation for an application or interview.
  • Maintaining a professional network will help you with your current career, as well as prepare you for your next job search.

Here are the three most important social media tools you need to compete in today’s new era of job search:

LinkedIn: LinkedIn offers the broadest array of resources to further your career. Whether you are looking for your first job, are considering changing careers, or want to move into a more senior position, LinkedIn can help you achieve it. Visibility, company job postings, research. If you are not here, you don’t exist for many recruiters and hiring companies.

Facebook: Why is Facebook so important as a job search tool? Visibility! Every business and brand that knows the power of the web is already there. Recruiters scour Facebook for candidates and regularly use friend-finding search feature.

Twitter: Use Twitter for company research, job leads, learning from others. Twitter gives you free information about people, organizations, and job listings. You can be an observant follower and still reap many benefits.

Whether you are a social media skeptic like I was or you’re “just dabbling” in social media, here are three things you can do now to leverage these tools for your job search:

  1. Take the tutorials available on each site. Learn how to get all you can out of the functionality so you can present a quality image and participate at a higher level.
  2. Start tweeting. Tweet to me (@DanaManciagli) if it’s your first time. You can also use tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite to organize Twitter and/or Facebook so you will see only what you’re interested in.
  3. Add value to discussions. Don’t just say “I agree” or “Good job” but share your advice, challenges, or experiences on LinkedIn Discussion Groups, Facebook posts, or Tweets. And make pertinent comments on articles posted on LinkedIn or Facebook.

If you are not looking for your next career move now, it’s likely you will be in the next couple of years; so build your network, both online and face-to-face, right now!

Need some advice? Got a specific challenge? Let me give you a hand; I’m ready to help!

Dana