It's All About Who You Know -- and Who They Know

By Ted Knutson
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, January 25, 2009

In job hunting, networking is the name of the game.

And it's also the name of the game at Facebook and LinkedIn, two of the most popular social-networking Web sites. These free sites provide job hunters powerful tools for connecting with current and long-lost friends or colleagues, strangers in positions to help a job hunt, and employers and recruiters combing the Web for workers.

How do you get started? At both sites (http://www.facebook.com and http://www.linkedin.com), the first thing you do after signing up via the home page is set up a profile (think mini-résumé). The next step is to search for people you know who use the site and invite them to become your online friends.

The result: a network. The other friends of your online friends can become valuable contacts. For example, if you are applying for a job at a company where one of your former co-workers knows an employee, that person could give you background information on the firm and possibly an in.

You can also join groups such as alumni associations, ad hoc organizations of current and former employees at specific companies and groups of workers in a related field.

Employment professionals point to LinkedIn and Facebook as the best social-networking sites for job hunting. Both sites have thousands of job listings. MySpace, by contrast, is not seen as suited for professional networking.

David Perry, author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters," said a key to successful job hunting via LinkedIn is to create a profile that will be interesting to potential employers and other job contacts looking for you.

"A lot of people just list their accomplishments. That's being one-dimensional, and no one hires one-dimensional individuals. What you need to do is show in your profile what you're really passionate about," Perry said. He recommends looking at a number of LinkedIn profiles to find a compelling style.

He said you can sharply increase your visibility on LinkedIn and Facebook by opening a WordPress blog on both sites. The blog is an excellent way to show employers that you're up on your field. When you blog, your profile on that networking site gets updated.

He noted that recruiters are less likely to go directly to LinkedIn or Facebook than to search for your name on the Internet. The blog will appear high up in the list of a Google search of your name.

To start a WordPress blog on LinkedIn, go to your LinkedIn home page and click on applications. Then click WordPress. From there, follow the instructions. On Facebook, access your home page and click on settings, then go to show, followed by "allow to post," then click on WordPress.

Perry said one of the least used but most valuable job-hunting tools on Facebook is the ability to run an ad saying that you are looking for a job or job contacts and to target it to specific members of a particular group, company or geographical area.

The ad will appear on the home page of everyone in that unit. The cost is based on how many people click on the ad. You can set a maximum charge and specify the dates the ad will appear.

To set up an ad, go to your profile. On the right side of the page, click advertise and go to the "Create an Ad" button.

Job-hunting consultant Simon Stapleton recommends putting a call to action in the subject line of the ad, something like "Hire me." In the body of the ad, state your desired role and provide a brief synopsis about your key strengths and characteristics, he said.

Sometimes, the best initial contact can be as close as your bedroom.

Cynthia Gilmer, owner of Opus Plus, a technology product development firm in McLean, said her husband got a job through one of her Facebook friends.

Gilmer's husband, a software engineer, had applied for a job but had heard nothing after three weeks. Gilmer found a Facebook contact who knew someone who knew the chief technology officer of the unresponsive company.

"I sent my connection a message asking if he would check with his connection to see if my husband's résumé was in consideration," she said.

Quickly, she got a message back that the company could not find her husband's résumé but that the contact's contact was willing to send it directly to the chief technology officer.

Within a couple of days, her husband had a phone interview. Within two weeks, he had a job offer. He took it.

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