Social network your way into a new career

TECH gurus everywhere were shaking with excitement when Google’s answer to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn was launched earlier this year. Google Plus hopes to carve out its niche by giving users greater control over who sees what information. This could make it very popular. Stories like that of the jobseeker who tweeted: “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work” send shudders down the spine when you learn that it wasn’t long until Tim Levad, a channel partner advocate from Cisco, tweeted back: “Who is the hiring manager? I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.” While avoiding car crashes like these is relatively straightforward, we wondered if it was possible to get a job through social networking.

We sought out those who got their job through the internet. Joas Belo, the chief marketing officer at Marketinvoice, scored his job by scouring his friends’ LinkedIn connections. “I was browsing through the profiles and I found that one of my friends was connected to someone at Marketinvoice, I didn’t know anything about the company, so I clicked on their website and it turned out they were looking for someone.” Belo was referred to them through his friend and the rest is history. “I would highly recommend using LinkedIn to find a job,” says Belo “getting referred to someone is a powerful introduction.” Belo tried using Twitter and Facebook to find opportunities, but didn’t have the same luck.

Bryce Keane, a digital strategist at Cohn & Wolfe, a WPP PR agency, however, got his job through Twitter. “I started using Twitter when I arrived in London. Being an Aussie, I didn’t have many contacts in London when I arrived. I found that social networking put me in touch with a whole community of people I wanted to meet.” These contacts started online, but quickly became friendships offline. “There are loads of socials for the creative and digital community. I started going along to them – that’s how I met the guy who eventually gave me my job.”

Recruiters are social networking too. James Callander, the managing director of Freshminds, says his staff are often searching LinkedIn. “It’s a simple way for us to start to looking for candidates that match our clients’ requests.”

Great. But how do we make sure our social networking increases our chances of career success?

Keane says: “I think you have to have the end goal in sight, present yourself as the person you want to be online.” This starts with your Twitter biography and how you tag yourself on LinkedIn, but bores down to the types of things you discuss and who you interact with. “Think of it this way: excellent content online attracts readers to websites. The same applies to people. If you get involved in an online community and tweet things that are interesting to the people you want to get to know, they’ll start tweeting back.”

That good content is essential on your LinkedIn profile. Callander says: “When we’re trying to pair candidates to job specifications we need to know how long a candidate has been at a company. Simply listing your employer without saying how long you’ve been there, isn’t particularly useful to us.”

“Much of it,” Keane says, “is about taking those online relationships and turning them into friendships – just like old-fashioned networking.”

Tweet Keane at @Digital_Sizzle to get involved in his offline social network.