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September 17, 2013
Are Social Media Skills a Necessity in Today’s Job Market?
To succeed in today’s highly competitive job market, job seekers must take advantage of every tool and strategy at their disposal.
They not only need to acquire marketable skills to make them more valuable employees, but they also must master social media skills to help them land — and keep — a job.
New Way to Network
Networking — sharing information between people and organizations of similar interests — isn’t anything new. It’s been going on for centuries in one form or another. However, the digital age has transformed the networking process dramatically, making it far easier to stay in touch with those with whom you share such common interests.
Social media is the digital glue that connects today’s networking groups, enabling members in far-flung corners of the globe to share their thoughts and suggestions with others in a matter of minutes.
Top Social Media Players
Three of the biggest players in social media today are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. All three — as well as countless other social media forums — provide a way for members to alert their online contacts that they are looking for a new job, as well as all of the specifics pertinent to that job search.
Because it focuses primarily on job-related relationships, LinkedIn is probably the single best social media outlet for those who are looking for a job. Officially launched in May 2003, LinkedIn has 225 million members in more than 200 countries and territories around the world.
LinkedIn’s Mission
LinkedIn spells out its mission in very simple terms: “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” To accomplish its mission, this social media site for professionals gives its members access to contacts with other professionals, job leads, reports on employment trends, job-related news, and insights “that help you be great at what you do.”
In and of itself, putting out the word that you’ve begun a job hunt won’t land you a new position. It will, however, plant a seed in the minds of your contacts that may bear fruit if and when they hear of a job opening that seems to fit your interests and experience.
Get First Shot at New Job Openings
While online job postings, such as those on Talent Zoo, are a very good place to browse for an opening that appeals to you, working your network of professional colleagues and friends may tip you off to an upcoming opening before it’s even posted. Armed with this type of intelligence, you may be able to land an interview before potential job rivals hear about the open position.
Being a member of social media networks often gives job seekers access to information about the hiring managers at companies where they plan to apply for a job. The volume of information varies depending on the privacy settings of the individuals involved, but any advance information about the men and women who will be reviewing an application or interviewing job seekers can help applicants craft a more targeted cover letter and resume or prepare for an interview.
Extending the Network
LinkedIn allows its members to search for companies that have a presence on LinkedIn, and most companies do. Much like the “six degrees of separation” parlor game, you can look at the public profiles of the company’s personnel to see if any have links to some of your professional colleagues. If they do, you can ask your colleague to introduce you and thus establish a link that may be helpful in your future job searches.
In an article posted on the website of U.S. News & World Report, Alexis Grant cautions job seekers against underestimating the usefulness of Facebook and Twitter in finding a new job. While LinkedIn connects you with professional colleagues, your Facebook and Twitter contacts are more likely to be personal friends. As personal friends, Grant writes, they probably have more of a stake in seeing you succeed.
Networking through social media is a good way for job seekers to get their foot in the door with a potential employer, hopefully a bit ahead of other contenders for the job. After that, it’s up to the applicant to make a positive impression. Social media is no substitute for an impressive, well-crafted resume in printed form, a solid handshake, and a pleasing interview demeanor. Put them all together to find your dream job. 

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Jay Fremont is a freelance author who has written extensively about personal finance, corporate strategy, and Amerisave.
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