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The mere mention of ‘social media’ or ‘job searching‘ have been known to invoke excitement or dread in some. So, when the phrases are placed together in a sentence, i.e. ‘using social media to job search’ it’s not surprising they can also create uncertainty and nervousness. Or perhaps they did in the past…

Nowadays, employers and job seekers alike are flocking to social media platforms to network or research a potential employee or employer.

By following these simple do’s and don’ts, you won’t be caught off guard next time you apply for a position and your interviewer asks you to ‘connect’:

 A major ‘do’ for anyone, even if you are already employed, is to work on your online presence.

A good start: Google yourself. Find out the websites you can currently be seen on. When I was applying for my present position, my boss found EVERYTHING with my name on it. She was able to find my old MySpace page from high school, my LinkedIn profile, and my Facebook page. I had nothing inappropriate on my social pages but the point is, she found them. Easily. So, whether you’re job searching, coasting, or currently employed, locate all the websites you have an active account with. De-activate them if you are no longer using them, or change all settings to private. Then your boss won’t be able to see the Facebook photos you posted at 2am.

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In addition, while you clean up your existing social media accounts, don’t forget to consider joining LinkedIn if you haven’t already.

LinkedIn has been dubbed ‘the Facebook with a tie,’ so make sure your account is polished. Many people are even using LinkedIn in place of a resume when job searching. Set up an account and start connecting with people both in and beyond your industry such as authors, bloggers, and anyone else who might be able to give you job search insight and tips.

Don’t provide your recruiter or employer with a generic message via LinkedIn.

Instead, make sure you are stating your situation, what type of job you want, and what companies you want to work for. Lastly, be proactive by stating a time to discuss opportunities.

Do be sure to check up on your interviewer via LinkedIn, Facebook and blogs so you know about them and what they are interested in.

Don’t friend request or connect to them just yet though. Things can get awkward if you haven’t been offered the position or they decide to go in a different direction.

Don’t let social media bog you down, but do have fun with it.

Social media has affected not only the way we connect with friends but also with employers, so use it as a resource. Don’t sign up for social networking sites if you are only going to post your name and nothing else though. Make sure the site is one you can really utilize to help you land your dream job.

Social media has proven it can be friend or foe, especially when used in the professional capacity. The ability to network with a VP of a Fortune 500 company or with the writer of your favorite business journal has never been easier. It would be foolish not to take advantage of the opportunity. Just make sure to change your settings to private before you start applying for jobs though. By following the above do’s and don’ts you can find your dream job without sacrificing your social media connections.

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