Job Hunting with Online Sites
About Jobs: Make Friends, Find Jobs, Discover Love (And Maybe Get Famous)
Does the name Chris Crocker mean anything to you? Well, if you’ve been following the recent exploits of singer Britney Spears in the tabloids, you know Crocker is the obsessed fan who posted a video on YouTube and MySpace declaring that people should “Leave Britney alone!” Crocker’s rather bizarre and emotion-filled video caused him to become famous virtually overnight. In fact, more people have seen Crocker’s videos recently than have watched some top-rated network television shows. Go figure?!?
Many other everyday people from around the world have also found fame as a result of blogging, videocasting and using online social networking services. William Sledd, for example, has taken his over-the-top personality and passion for fashion, and has not only developed a huge web-based following but has landed a television series production deal with NBC/Universal. Meanwhile, countless artists, musicians, actors and other creative professionals are currently using online social networking services as powerful promotional tools to advance their careers. If you’re an ordinary, recently divorced person, and you’re looking to make new friends or advance your career, but not necessarily become famous, you too can benefit from joining and participating on one or more of these innovative and relatively new online social networking services.
BENEFITS OF SOCIAL NETWORKING
If you’re looking to meet new friends, perhaps find love, or would like to meet people in your industry who could potentially help advance your career, you’ll quickly discover online social networking is a fun, free and beneficial tool, but there are some definite pitfalls to watch out for! Millions of savvy web surfers have discovered a new way to meet and communicate over the Internet, by taking basic principles of social networking on expanding them into cyberspace. The concept is simple, you start with a handful of your existing friends. Each of those friends has multiple other friends and professional contacts whom you might not know. Those friends of friends also have an abundance of friends and contacts you could potentially benefit from meeting. An online social networking service makes finding and meeting friends, friends of friends, and entirely new people a relatively quick and easy process. Through online social networking Web sites, like Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s possible to meet and interact with your existing friends, plus make new friends and professional acquaintances who share common interests, or with whom you already share a mutual friend. The process starts by getting yourself online and choosing an online social networking service to join. Then, simply create an online profile (or persona) for yourself using a pre-designed template and by answering a handful of questions about yourself. Once your profile is posted online, you can become active within that online community by making new friends and corresponding with them through public and private email-like messages, and by sharing photos and videos, for example.
Many people enjoy using services like Facebook and LinkedIn because they’re free of charge, available 24-hours-per-day, and allow people to be social without ever leaving the comfort and safety of their own homes.
NETWORKING SERVICES AREN’T ALIKE
According to Sunil Saha, a senior product manager at LinkedIn, LinkedIn is a professional networking tool where people can create their professional persona online and then connect to other professionals. LinkedIn is very different from Facebook in terms of what it offers and how people use it.
Saha described Facebook as being more of an online social networking tool for interacting with your existing real-world friends. “Facebook, is more for socializing and entertainment. LinkedIn is dedicated 100 percent to helping people network professionally, although there is a social component to it,” he added.
Before signing up for an online social networking service, figure out what your goals are, then determine if that service offers the tools necessary to help you achieve those goals, whether it’s to meet new friends, find dates, seek out advice, entertain yourself while online, or advance your career.
YOUR PUBLIC PROFILE OR PERSONA
Using a service like Facebook or LinkedIn, it’s possible to create a free account and develop your online profile in a matter of minutes. However, some people spend hours, if not days or weeks fine-tuning and constantly updating their profiles with new graphic designs, additional personal or professional information, blogs, photos and even videos. How elaborate your profile becomes is a personal decision, based on the amount of creativity and time you choose to invest. Many people use their online profile as an outlet for creative expression.
Your online profile is like a mini web page about yourself, although absolutely no programming is required. Using a pre-designed template and a series of basic questionnaires offered by the online social networking services, the goal is to tell people about yourself, including where you’re from and what your personal and/or professional interests are. Ultimately, you want to use your profile to help you find other people online who share common interests and whom you’d enjoy interacting with, initially in cyberspace, but also in-person if you ultimately decide to meet.
The online profile you create might contain only basic information about yourself, or it could reveal your deepest and darkest secrets, plus offer a truly revealing look at you as a person “ it’s entirely up to you. All information you provide is optional, although people with photos of themselves within their profile tend to meet more people faster.
The important thing to remember is that anything and everything you post within your profile, as well as some online correspondence you have with others, is all potentially available to the general web surfing public. In fact, many of the online social networking and blog services automatically add profile data to the Internet search engines, such as Google, making it even easier for people to discover information about you and find you online.
Each of the online social networking sites allow its millions of other users to search peoples’ profiles using many different criteria, such as hometown, occupation, interests, favorite TV show, and/or age group, for example, so finding new people to correspond with is a very simple process, even if you’re not a technologically savvy person.
If you’re a recently divorced, 34-year-old woman from Stamford, Conn., who enjoys opera, skiing and cooking, for example, you can quickly do an online search for single/divorced men from your area who share common interests, and who are looking to meet new friends and/or start a potential relationship. Profile searches on these sites are easy to conduct, which is how people initially meet” using these services.
If you’re a public relations professional or accountant looking for a new job, for example, you can easily track down people working in your industry, obtain free career advice, and potentially have your new friends make introductions on your behalf to potential employers. Interacting with people in your field is also a great way to discover unadvertised job opportunities, plus learn about trends happening in your industry.
MEETING NEW FRIENDS
Once you’ve established your profile on one or more of the social networking services, use that service’s search feature to track down a handful of people you already know who are also members of that service. Upon adding these current, real-life friends to your online friends list, you can see lists and access profiles of all of their respective online friends. Then, if you choose, you can make contact with any of those people by sending them an email-like message.
Another option is to use the online social networking service’s search feature to track down strangers with similar interests, who live in your geographic, and/or who are in your same age group, for example. As you find other members whom you’d like to correspond with, add them to your online friends list and begin sending them email-like messages.
Keep in mind, once your detailed profile is online and added to the online social networking service’s database, people who are conducting their own searches will also be able to find you online and initiate contact.
While you might meet hundreds of new people through these services, for the majority of them, you’ll probably want to keep your interaction exclusively online and casual. For example, you might find a handful of other recently divorced people with whom you can share your experiences with online, but whom you’d otherwise have no interest in interacting with outside of cyberspace.
However, it’s also common for people to begin an online friendship, and then eventually start talking on the telephone. They might ultimately decide to meet in-person and become the best of friends in the real world. Obviously, you’ll want to proceed with extreme caution before revealing your full name, phone number, or any highly personal information about yourself, since the information other people post about themselves online isn’t always true.
FINDING LOVE IN CYBERSPACE
Just as millions of people are using online social networking to meet and interact with their online-based friends, many are using these services to meet people and ultimately establish a romantic relationship, both online and in the real-world. Again, it’s important to proceed with caution as the people you’ll meet online aren’t always who or what they may seem.
ONLINE NETWORKING AND YOUR CAREER
While services like Facebook (and countless others) are designed mainly for social purposes, LinkedIn was established to be an online social networking site for professionals looking to meet and interact with other professionals in order to advance their careers. LinkedIn has more than 16 million active members, representing more than 150 industries. Members are using this service as a powerful networking tool to generate new business, find new clients or customers, meet others working within their industry, discover new job opportunities, and to expand their network of professional acquaintances.
Most importantly, LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool for introducing you to other professionals through the people you know. “LinkedIn is a wonderful forum for learning about job opportunities. Many employers will post information about jobs they’re looking to fill on our service, in hopes of finding applicant referrals from the people in their network. Job listings are often posted here before they’re made public. We also have a separate area for finding job opportunities,” said Saha.
According to Saha, creating a well-written and detailed online profile (referred to as an online ‘persona’ on LinkedIn) is the best way to allow potential employers to find you. “It’s always better to be found by potential employers or customers than it is to solicit them online. This puts you in more of a position of strength. LinkedIn allows you to showcase your skills and experience, highlight your specialties or expertise, and post references from peers, all of which potential employers will find useful. The beauty of LinkedIn is that your persona is online all of the time, so it’s always working on your behalf.”
Among LinkedIn’s more than 16 million members are soon-to-be or recent high school and college graduates looking to enter the job market, stay-at-home mothers looking to re-enter the working world, as well as current business professionals, executives and even CEOs of some of the world’s most well-known and influential companies.
“Just like you would on your resume, when you’re creating your online persona, focus on highlighting your work-related experience and education. Next, start building up your contacts. When strangers look at your persona, they’ll want to see who you are, but will also be interested in who you know. Obtaining professional recommendations and posting them within your persona is an excellent tool for enhancing your credibility, especially if you’re actively looking for a new job,” added Saha.
“Completing the specialties area of your persona is also important, because this is one of the ways people will be able to find you online when they’re using LinkedIn. Aside from possibly listing your interests or hobbies, refrain from including too much personal information within your LinkedIn persona. Focus more on elaborating on information that would normally be featured within your resume,” said Saha, who also recommends posting just one professional headshot (photograph) within your LinkedIn persona.
Another tip from Saha is to only incorporate information within your online persona that you’re comfortable sharing with your peers. “Embellishing information about yourself can do you a disservice, because people who know you professionally will be seeing the information you place online,” he added.
One tool that LinkedIn offers is a utility that allows you to import your personal contact directory from Yahoo!, Gmail, or AOL, and then match up people who are already members of LinkedIn, so you can make contact with them quickly in this forum.
“Another way to showcase your particular knowledge or expertise using LinkedIn is to publicly answer questions posted by others in the Answers area of the service. Doing this promotes yourself, while at the same time gives you the opportunity to help other people out,” said Saha.