Job Searching on Social Networks – Yes or No

With the explosion of social media it seems that individuals and companies alike are using social networks to make personal and business connections. From tweeting customer complaints to maintaining photo albums on Facebook, it has become the norm to take everyday tasks to a social medium.

But what about job searching? Countless employers and recruiters are present on Twitter, Facebook and now maybe even Google+. With the job market still floundering, social media is a natural fit for many job seekers, especially recent college graduates who tend to be tech-savvy and accustomed to social networking already. To determine how to successfully navigate the job search process in today’s digital landscape, let’s examine the benefits and potential pitfalls of using social media for professional purposes.

Why Social May Not Be the Solution.

Social networks are personal by nature, and full ofphotographs, status updates and information that may not be suited for the business world. Remember, you always want to put your best, most professional, foot forward.

There are some things you can’t control, like getting tagged in a photo, or a friend Tweeting a not-so-appropriate joke at you. Sure, you can un-tag and delete, but once something is on the Internet for more than five minutes, it typically finds a way to exist forever in some form.

As for recruiters, it’s great to research applicants to know if they’re a true fit for a position. Just follow best practices and limit interactions with candidates to professional networks and career sites.

But Are There Any Benefits?

Of course job seekers and employers can’t ignore the impact of social media. The key is to separate your personal and professional identity, and be proactive about managing your online reputation.

With so many people on Facebook, you might even find an employment contact there. However, be sure to access their contact information for networking purposes only instead of choosing to become “Friends.”

Speaking of Facebook—there are some great Facebook apps that allow professionals to search jobs at companies where friends work or have worked, a great way to get insight on a potential employer or position. Niche career communities offer this app and there are more to come.  What’s really nice is when you find a job you’re interested in, you’re taken to the career community to apply—so it helps keep your personal and professional networks separate.

Don’t ignore those privacy settings! If you choose to conduct a portion of your search through a social network, you have the ability to make your Tweets private or make yourself unsearchable on Facebook. This will ensure that what’s meant to be private stays private.

For those candidates who want to be found, optimize your profile so you’re easily located. Use the same keywords that recruiters look for in candidates with your qualifications, so you’ll stand out.

On the recruitment side, go ahead and use social channels to share information, make connections with candidates and promote job board postings. Just don’t connect directly with potential applicants through these networks—direct job seekers to your professional email address, web site or job posting instead.

So based on the above pros and cons—social media is a go when it comes to the job search process. When used to complement other recruitment solutions like mobile apps and niche and general career sites, it can be beneficial to both candidates and HR pros alike.

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