Friday, October 10, 2008

The "New" Job Search (Surprise - there's networking involved)

If you're a regular reader of this blog, then you know that we just can't stop talking about networking and why it's so important for the job search. Now it's time to add another layer - social networking. Most millennials are well-versed in social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace - but now even more experience professionals are joining the trend, especially through professional networking sites like LinkedIn and BanyanLink. Why is this important to note? Because it's changing the way that employers fill positions.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, "...recruiters use social networking sites 23 percent more now than they did in 2006 to fill vacancies, verify résumés and screen applicants."

Pulling from that article, here are some tips to make the most of your social networking connections (and your traditional networking connections as well).

1. Clean up your act. As the Times says, "But a word of warning, especially as sites like Facebook become more popular tools for recruiters: get anything that looks bad off your page. That photo of you drunk at a Halloween party, those musings about how much you hate your boss — not a good impression." This is especially true for college students, since you're probably using Facebook to showcase photos of what you did this weekend, parties you went to, etc. If you're on the job (or internship) hunt, be sure your photos (and your wall posts) are appropriate for the office.

2. Expand your search radius. The article states, "When looking for a job, especially in these tougher economic times, the trick is to cast as wide a net as possible." That means don't rely solely on on-campus recruiting to find a job this year. Over the past few weeks Michael Paone and Lauren Baker have been telling you to consider smaller or lesser known organizations as part of your job search. Do it.

3. Use your existing network. There are 15,000 alumni in the Alumni Careers Network. I'm always surprised when I meet with students who haven't heard of ACN or haven't used it before, when it's one of the best ways for UChicago students to get a leg up on the competition. Use ACN to search for alumni across the country and the world, working in every possible field, and with every possible major. If you're at a point in your job search where you're not sure where to look next, consider contacting alumni with the same major as you, to find out where that background led them. Just remember - don't ask for a job outright. The Alumni Careers Network is about making connections - and it's from those connections that opportunities can develop.

The truth of the matter is that the "new" job search isn't much different from the old one - there are just more on-line resources at your disposal. So make sure you're taking advantage of those resources. And that photo of you from last weekend? Take it down from your profile ASAP.

Questions about social networking and your job search? Post them here. Topics you want to hear about in the future? Post those here too.

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