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As social media continues to dominate our digital landscape, more and more people are finding social networks to be invaluable as they plan careers and search for jobs.¬† Social media outlets allow you the opportunity to build and maintain your own online identity and to connect with individuals and organizations around the globe.¬† There are many social media sites that you can utilize, but keep in mind the popularity of each will ebb and flow as technology and trends change. ¬†
The Big Three
Facebook:¬† Facebook needs no introduction, and since its inception it has continued to expand exponentially.¬† While some people are able to integrate their Facebook into their professional lives, due to Facebook's more casual nature, Facebook is not always the ideal place to friend your business contacts, co-workers, or other professional connections.¬† (See LinkedIn below for more on this.)¬†
Be sure that your activities on Facebook won‚Äôt give prospective employers ‚Äúred flags‚ÄĚ about you as a candidate.¬† Check your photos, videos, wall posts and comments for professionalism.¬† Use Facebook's privacy settings wisely.¬† If you're unsure about content on your Facebook, think about it from the point of view of your potential employer.¬† Would you want to hire you?¬†
LinkedIn:¬† LinkedIn is the most widely used professional social outlet on the internet, and allows you to create a professional profile as well as make connections with others in your chosen field.¬† College students and recent grads make up about 11 million of LinkedIn's 100 million members, and over 37,000 colleges and universities have alumni groups on LinkedIn, including Eastern University.¬†
According to a recent poll, 45% of employers indicated they use social media to check out applicants.¬† Having an up-to-date, honest LinkedIn profile can be a strong counterpart to your physical resume, and in some cases, students and grads are beginning to include their LinkedIn profile on their resumes.¬† For instructions and tips on how to build and maintain your LinkedIn profile, see our LinkedIn FAQs page.¬†
Twitter:¬† This microblogging site can be a great way for you to interact with people and organizations of similar professional interests from across the globe.¬† Additionally, employers are increasingly using Twitter to promote jobs and internships.¬† Use ‚Äúhashtag‚ÄĚ searches (e.g. #jobs or #internships) and ‚Äúfollow‚ÄĚ organizations to check out opportunities.
Creating a Twitter account that's simply for professional use can be a great tool.¬† (Even professors are splitting their time between two Twitter accounts!)¬† You can even link your professional Twitter to your LinkedIn profile.¬† Start tweeting about interesting things in your industry or field of study.¬† Show your followers that you're knowledgeable about things that are relevant.
Google+:¬† Google+ launched in June 2011, and while it strived to be 'the new Facebook,' it has yet to claim that title.¬† People who use Google+ like its ability to sort contacts into relevant groups, such as friends, co-workers, family, etc.¬† The 'hang-out' feature also allows for webcam communication among a large group.
Balance your Time
Social networking can be a powerful tool in your internship/job search arsenal, and you may find yourself presented with opportunities you hadn't even considered.¬† Be sure, however, you don't find yourself getting sucked into the social media vortex.¬† Spending hours online trying to track down new contacts on LinkedIn or writing blog content will not typically have the same results as putting in your time as a volunteer or an intern.¬† Seek hands-on, practical experiences in your chosen field.¬† Connections online are great, but face-to-face connections are still paramount.¬† Communicating with employers directly is vital, and often proves to be more effective than any website or network.
In January 2011, BlogPulse reported tracking 152 million blogs, and since then the number has only increased.¬† Considering the amount of people already blogging, you may wonder if starting your own will benefit you in the job search.
The truth is that blogging is not the golden ticket to getting a job.¬† What a well-maintained, thoughtful, professional blog can do is help you enhance your online image, and can showcase your knowledge, your commitment to your field, and your portfolio, if your discipline requires one.¬† Employers will not generally contact you as a result of reading your blog, but a blog can make you a stronger candidate once you're already being considered for a position.
Many of the top blogging websites allow you to create one for free, but remember that updating a blog constantly does cost you time.¬† Professional blogs need to be just that: well written (grammar and spelling count!), focused on a single field or interest area, and clean.¬† Photographs and images should be your own or copyright-free; always ask permission before you post another's work.¬† Comments should be handled respectfully, even if they come across as negative.¬† If you are unsure whether or not to post something, that's often a sign you shouldn't.¬† Ask yourself, would I say this at work?
Social Media and Networking Links
Social Media Today:¬† A comprehensive site with up to the minute information about the world of social media.
Name Check:¬† See if your preferred name is available on dozens of social networking sites!
In The Door: Find jobs where you already have an inside connection (uses Facebook).