Looking for a new job can be tough. If you're active online on social networks, however, finding a new position can often be a lot easier and some studies even show give you a leg up on the competition.
Sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Pinterest can be key in helping you connect with right people to find a new job and ensure you stand out when it comes to hiring time.
Network on Twitter
If you don't already have a Twitter account, create one and start following some people in the same business you're in. Are you looking for a job in PR? Follow people who work at the firms you're applying at and even some of their clients. Trying to get a job as a bartender? Follow some of the local bars you're interested in working at and some of their staff.
Twitter will not only help keep you up to date on what's going on with those people and businesses, it can also be your way in to contact with them. If your potential boss tweets something you're interested in, send him or her an @ message on Twitter in response. Start work-related and professional dialogues with others in your field to build up an online reputation as someone with smart, funny, or interesting things to say. Getting a new job can be as much about who you know as how good you are at a gig, so the more people you know, even virtually, the better position you'll likely be in.
Along those lines, make sure your Twitter username and mini-bio represent who you are and what you are trying to accomplish. Build yourself up on the social network by thinking of yourself as a brand that others will want to buy into. Do a good enough job at that, and they likely will.
Look around LinkedIn
Just as Twitter can help give you an inside track on a new gig, so can LinkedIn. If you don't already have an account, sign up and start connecting with others.
While you don't need to have worked personally with everyone you connect with on LinkedIn, in general it's a good idea to only connect with people you think do a good job at whatever it is that they do. For instance, if your friend Bob is a slacker who rarely shows up to work on time, you probably don't want to advertise that you're best buddies to a prospective employer. On the other hand, if your pal Dave is an awesome accountant, then you may want to connect to him on the site even though you're looking for office management gigs.
Many employers check out LinkedIn while they're reviewing your application, and a few have even started to require that you have a profile and submit that information along with your resume. If your prospective boss happens to be connected to some of the same people you are, that's likely to give you a quick leg up on the competition. Even if he or she isn't, showing that you have a lot of professional contacts and that people enjoy working with you is a big plus in any work environment.
When you decide to submit an application for a job (or get that all-important interview), check out LinkedIn to see if you have any contacts in common with the person doing the interviewing. Being able to say, "Hey, I saw you used to work with my neighbor Sarah," will add the personal touch that makes you stand out and shows that you care enough about the job to do your research.
Facelift your Facebook
A recent study showed that having a lot of friends and posting pictures of yourself out with others can actually be beneficial when it comes to a job search. While the study found that having friends and some social activity shows that you're outgoing, you want to make sure that you don't appear so outgoing that it might ultimately hurt your work. Scan through your public photos and interactions on the site and make sure that everything you post is something you're not afraid to share with an employer.
While you're searching for jobs, you may also want to keep your Facebook network informed on the situation. If you recently got laid off, post a status message letting everyone know the situation and ask your network for leads they might have on future employment. While you want to be careful not to bad-mouth previous employers or act desperate in status messages, letting your friends know what's up could be the key in finding what's next. People you're connected to on Facebook (and elsewhere online) may have an opening you're suited for at their own companies or other friends who are looking for someone to fill a position that you just might fit.
While it's still the new kid on the block, Pinterest can be a useful tool for getting your foot in the door of some professions. Bakers, for instance, could use the site to create collections of some of their favorite recipes to share with potential restaurants. Aspiring bartenders could create collections of their favorite brews or cocktails to show off their knowledge of the industry.
While not all professions can benefit from making specific pinboards, quite a few can if you think creatively. If you have a Pinterest account, you also want to keep in mind that your future employer might very easily stumble upon it. Make sure the pinboards you post are something you wouldn't mind sharing with your future boss.
Have your own ideas for using social media to score a new job? Tell us your ideas in the comments!