The buzz lately is all about Twitter. How Twitter is a great communication tool, which it is. How Twitter is a great way to connect with people, which it is. And how Twitter can help you get a job, which it can.
Help is the optimal word though. There are some people who have been hired via a job posted on Twitter or through someone they follow or someone who is following them. The same is true for Facebook and the other social media sites. Absolutely, your connections can help you find a job, point you towards a job lead, or give you a reference. Here's how social media has helped one candidate with her job search.
However, there is a danger in thinking that all you need to do is go online and tweet yourself to a new job. There is no quick and easy way for most of us to find a job.
For most job seekers, you need a multi-tiered approach to job searching. That means researching companies, searching for job listings, writing a resume, and writing a customized cover letter for every job you apply for.
One Step at a Time
The other factor is that it takes time to build an online presence. It's a time consuming process to learn how to build an online presence, create a personal brand that reflects you as the perfect candidate, to engage with connections to help, and to do it effectively. That's especially true if this is all new to you and you haven't had to job search in a while.
Don't expect to be able to have a strong online presence overnight. It's taken me years to create mine. Instead, take it one step at a time and spend some time on the networking sites, as well as time conducting a traditional job search. In this job market, you need to cover all the bases.
Get a Head Start
It's also important to create and grow your brand, even if you're not currently job searching. Given the economy, you never know if or when you'll have to start hunting for a new job. If you're well positioned ahead of time, it will be much easier to act fast if you have to. In addition, it's good to stay in touch with your connections and keep up with the pulse of your career field or industry.
LinkedIn for Professional Networking
If I were to recommend one site for networking, it would be LinkedIn. LinkedIn should be your starting point because it's designed for professional networking. You can build a profile quickly and easily, and find contacts from your employers, clients, vendors, and schools. Users can also search for jobs right on LinkedIn, plus see who they know at companies they apply to or are interested in working for.
Once you've started building a LinkedIn profile and it's robust - all the sections are complete and you've connected with everyone you know, move on to the next step.
The Old Fashioned Way
The reason I'm not recommending you count on online networking is that many employers still recruit candidates in what some think is an old fashioned way. They expect candidates to apply with a resume and a cover letter via the company web site or a site where they have posted the job opening.
About.com's Guide to Human Resources, Susan Heathfield, says "Despite the proliferation of social and professional networking sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn, some traditional components of the application process still work best for the job searcher. It's fine to find out about a job or even ask questions about an opening on Twitter, as an example, but when you apply, employers are still expecting the resume and cover letter."
That means, in order to have a well-rounded job search, you still need to search for jobs (the job search engines are an ideal tool for doing that), and to take the time to apply.
Ten Steps to Find a New Job
Don't sell yourself short and put all your eggs in one job searching basket. These Ten Steps to Find a New Job will step you through the process of finding a new job, including where to look for jobs, the top job sites, how to use your connections, how to ace the interview, and how to follow up.