Social media isn't part of a job search. In order to find a job, you only need a resume, business cards, and a nice suit. Right? This was true – if you were looking for a job in 2001.
In today's wired world, there are so many more options available to you. Why not try them? After all, submitting your resume blindly just isn't working. If you want to try something new, social media is a great place to start.
Hands down, the best social media site for the job seeker is LinkedIn. It's an extension of your resume and a Rolodex of your contacts all rolled into one. I often hear the question, "Do I really need a LinkedIn page?" The short answer is yes. LinkedIn is free and it allows you to decide how much you share and with whom you want to connect. In fact, there are estimated to be half a billion users on LinkedIn from over 200 countries.
Use LinkedIn to expand on your resume, connect to old colleagues, and grow your network. The LinkedIn search tool is a great way to find (and to connect with) your future boss. It can also be a great way to learn who else works at your target company.
But, don't stop there. I have been impressed at the number of business executives who use Twitter. It's not uncommon to tweet to someone in the C-suite, and to actually receive a real response. It can be an unexpected way to grow a new relationship.
Another site you may want to consider if you're in a creative field is YouTube. An advertising agency CEO once shared with me that some of her most impressive applicants submitted a short video about themselves via YouTube. It helped them to get the agency's attention in a sea of other applications.
The one social media I would think twice about using is Facebook. Facebook has long been considered a private space to connect with friends and family. In fact, if you send a stranger a direct message, Facebook will typically filter it out of their inbox by default. That means that the person may never see your message. So, before using Facebook, try other social media sites.
Using social media in your job search can give you a leg up on your competition. It can also help you to shape your online presence. After all, when a company searches for your name on Google, your social media pages are certain to be the first thing that pops up. Think of Google search results like the new cover letter. Your social media pages tell a personal narrative about you and your beliefs.
Don’t worry too much about bothering the person you’re contacting via LinkedIn or Twitter. Social media is just another form of communication, similar to email or phone. Be professional and polite and you’ll find an entirely new way to grow your network. It’s far more effective than blindly submitting an application on a website.
Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.