Socially Network Your Way to a Job
our law school’s career services department has probably told you on several occasions to “network” away as much as possible. As painful as this advice can be, the explosion in social media in recent years not only makes networking easy, it makes it more effective and beneficial to prospective employees. Who better to benefit than students?!?! Chances are good that you use at least one channel of social media on a regular basis.
There are many social networking vehicles out there. Let’s focus on three: LinkedIn; Facebook; and Twitter.
LinkedIn: Arguably the easiest and most effective method of professional networking, LinkedIn is the premier business-focused social networking vehicle for professionals. With more than 80 million registered users, LinkedIn allows its members to reconnect with people from the past and establish new connections through their contacts’ connections. Interested in a job at a particular law firm or company? You might know someone with a connection at that company who can make an introduction for you, thereby increasing your chances of getting your resume in the right persons’ hands. LinkedIn allows users to list all professional experiences and accomplishments without the page limitations of a standard resume. Many businesses are beginning to set up individual profiles on LinkedIn, and the site allows companies to post job openings directly on the website. Interested candidates can follow a business of their choosing in order to learn more about the company as well as discover possible job opportunities.
Facebook: With more than 500 million users there has to be some mechanism for finding a job through Facebook, right? Yes. Although much more of a social based platform than professional, Facebook users can still use the site for professional networking. One such way is by posting a status update or a note announcing your job search and what type of job you might be interested in pursuing. Someone you are friends with could see your status and know of a potential opportunity for you. A more private yet effective way of job searching on Facebook is by using the “search” box at the top of the website. You can search narrowly by company or broadly by topic. From there you can join Facebook groups, follow Facebook fan pages, or search by individual people to see if you are friends with or have any mutual friends with someone who works in a field or at a company of interest to you.
A word of caution that you have likely heard (repeatedly) before but is worth repeating. Because Facebook is more of a social based platform than a professional one, it is vital that job seekers be cognizant of their privacy settings, status updates, and postings. Employers are increasingly looking at prospective employees social media profiles – in particular Facebook – and unprofessional or unflattering photographs or postings floating around could backfire on one’s candidacy.
Twitter: Unlike LinkedIn and Facebook, in which a user must grant your introductory request before you can connect, Twitter allows you to follow people that you don’t necessarily know based on common interest. This makes networking both efficient and easy. A thorough read-through of someone’s Twitter bio might reveal professional information, making a personal introduction very simple. Since Twitter is used primarily as a way to share information with each other, most people are open to meeting others on the site.
The simplicity in connecting with someone is fascinating, but can be slightly unnerving. Last year I received a phone call from an alumni from my law school interested in a career change. I had neither met nor heard of this individual, as he graduated several years before I started law school. He had seen a job posting at my company and searched through his LinkedIn connections to find my profile through our law school’s alumni group, a connection which we both shared. From his search, he found my Facebook profile with my work information and called me directly. Initially I was taken aback by this interaction; the more I thought about it, however, the more I appreciated the personal example of how much easier networking has become as a result of the influx in social media platforms.
Have you tried using social network channels in your job search? Any success stories? Tips? Cautionary tales? Is your law school advocating tapping into these networks in your job search? Let us know in the comments!