Using Social Networking to Land a Job? 4 Things Not to Do

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Social networking can lead to bigger and better jobs, but it can also cost you the one you have (or the one you want). Make sure you don't have any of these social networking bad habits.

According to a study by Jobvite, a recruiting software company, 86 percent of job seekers had a social networking profile in 2011. But only 16 percent of them have used social networking to look for a new job.

That 16 percent have the right idea. Using social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn can help find work – if it’s done right. But done wrong, your social profiles can actually sabotage your networking attempts. Here’s what not to do…

1. Smack-talking the boss

You think your boss is a jerk now? Just wait until he reads your status updates. Sure, the National Labor Relations Board may have ruled your boss can’t fire you just for complaining about him on Facebook. But that doesn’t mean he can’t hate you – or find another reason to fire you.

Even if you’re planning to quit, badmouthing the boss is a bad idea. You may need a referral from him down the line, and he isn’t likely to give you a glowing review if he remembers you as that guy who called him a “tool” on Facebook.

And before you say, “I would never do that,” remember that comments, blog posts, and anything else you do online is public too. Play it safe and keep any clever jabs about your job (and your boss) to yourself.

2. Posting compromising photos

Every time you think of uploading a new photo, imagine walking into an interview and handing that photo to the hiring manager. Are you comfortable passing out snapshots of your drunken debauchery to your new boss? Because those photos are just a search away if you post them online.

Earlier this year, a teacher in Georgia had to resign after the school board saw pictures of her drinking on Facebook. The photo of Ashley Payne was hardly risque – but one picture of a night on the town was enough to cost her job and launch a legal battle.

Relying on the privacy settings isn’t enough. I had myself convinced my funny-but-embarrassing photos were safely locked away in my Facebook albums – until a colleague searched my name and found them. Just keep your unprofessional photos where they belong: on your hard drive.

3. Not participating

I’ve never gotten a single job lead or met someone new in my industry on LinkedIn, but my friends are constantly networking and insist they’ve found work through the site – sometimes in roundabout ways.

One friend recently landed a steady job through an old co-worker. After the two reconnected on LinkedIn, my friend realized their former co-worker was now employed by the company he was trying to join. The co-worker got him an interview, which led to a job.  Nothing like that has ever happened to me, but then, I don’t invest a lot of time on LinkedIn.

But maybe I should. According to a study by Lab42, 12 percent of the top-level executives and 9 percent of middle management said they use LinkedIn to interview and hire people on a regular basis.

If you’re serious about finding a job through social networking, you have to work the sites. You’ve got to friend people, comment, and share. But remember to keep it all professional.

4. Spamming

Most people want to help you. They want to check out your online portfolio, pass your resume along, and send referrals your way. That is, until you start to annoy them.

Every time I check my Twitter feed, I see the same tweets from the same people: “Check out my awesome website!” “Vote for me on this survey!” And I don’t – because I’m definitely not going to encourage them to keep spamming my feed.

While you do need to participate, less is more. Don’t post the same link over and over and don’t share every moment of your day. Think before you post: If it’s insightful, funny, or helpful, keep it. If it’s not, delete it.

Once you’ve dumped your bad habits you can start developing good ones. Check out this post: 5 Tech Tips That Will Help You Land a New Job. Then expand your social circle and add Money Talks News to your Facebook and Twitter for more job hunting tips.

Stacy Johnson

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