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To Tweet or Not to Tweet—That is the Question!

Can social media help you obtain your dream job?

As a career expert, I’m often asked this question, both by the media, job hunters, and even employers. My answer? Yes and no.

First, a word of caution about social networking: every tweet, post, picture, blog, and/or comment can be viewed by your future dream job hiring manager—with nightmarish consequences. Smart phones can make dumb postings online, with typos or emotionally charged words (that you’ll regret later). If this gave you a sudden thump in your chest, that was my intention. I have seen people derail their chances of getting hired via misuse of Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t panic; no need to cancel your FB page. You can still utilize social networking.

Effective online marketing has landed plenty of dream jobs. Use the following seven tips:

  1. Become a Multiple Personality. Not the disorder, but create two personas: personal and business, and keep them strictly separate. Just like there are two versions of yourself in an interview—the professional answer versus how you’d answer with your buddies—there are also two of you online. The easiest way to do this? Use LinkedIn for business and Facebook and Twitter for personal. Unless you can promise you’ll only tweet with the professional you (be honest now), never use your real name as your Twitter ID.
  2. Privacy. To tell you not to use Facebook is unreasonable. But, use the privacy settings so your interviewer doesn’t get to see the posted picture of you in your Halloween costume under a beer bong (or much worse).
  3. Screen Postings. As a rule, if you wouldn’t want a potential employer to read it, don’t write it. That includes what others (friends?) have posted. You need to think like a marketer and the brand is you. Personal branding projects a professional image and can assist rather than hinder you. It’s very easy to develop a personal brand but just as easy to destroy it with a few misguided tweets, postings, blogs, and even comments. Be careful what you “Like.”
  4. Promote your Personal Brand using LinkedIn—utilized by most executive recruiters, human resources professionals, and hiring managers. First, set up a professional profile picture and brief profile, then build your friends through your networking list. Ask key individuals in your network to write a recommendation of your work (use these in your Brag Book—discussed later). Do not insert your entire résumé, only general highlights. And no typos.
  5. Stand Out. Anyone can set up a LinkedIn account (it’s free). But not everyone uses it to differentiate and establish credibility. Demonstrate you’re an expert in a particular field or subject. Align yourself with strong content and share it with others by answering questions on user forums. LinkedIn’s Answers application is a great place to put this into practice. Constantly scour through questions that other LinkedIn members have posted in your area of expertise or search by keyword. The more high quality answers you provide, the more visible you become.
  6. Target Marketing 101. Compile a list of companies you’ve got in your sights, find out who works there and, if possible, who’s in charge of hiring. Then make friends with or follow them on social-networking sites. Many corporate sites list personnel with names, faces, and a bio (very helpful info to network). Search LinkedIn for company names and double check with a search of PeekYou, Plaxo and Spoke (other useful social media directories aimed at business users). Soon, you will develop an extensive list of names; you can make friends with people on all these networks (professional page on Facebook only).
  7. Do you need a Website, Blog Site, and/or a YouTube Video? Depends. If you can establish yourself as an expert in your field or target field, by all means. Again, be the professional you for every image and comment. You can develop an online Brag Book with videos of you being interviewed on TV or reprint of an article you contributed to, etc. Though I have seen several online resumes (short videos), unless you can afford high quality sound, lighting, and photography, don’t do it.

A final word concerning an online strategy: the best networking is always in person. Use social media to help you set up informal meetings. I’ve seen many, “Let’s get a coffee sometime,” turn into, “Why don’t you come to work for me?”

J.P. Hansen is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.


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