Farmville will not get you a job! I repeat: Farmville will not get you a job!
This may sound like an obvious statement, but I feel obligated to say it after my recent encounter with an out-of-work administrative assistant. During one of my NJ Unemployed programs, I was chatting with a woman about her career options. When I suggested she check out a specific online networking group, her response was, "I only Farmville." Confused, I asked her to repeat herself. "The only thing I do online," she said, "is play Farmville on Facebook." I quickly informed her that while gaming apps on Facebook are fun, they won't lead to job offers.
Don't make the same mistake. If used properly, social media can help you in your job hunt. Here's how:
1. Create Social Media Profiles
First things first. You must set up accounts on the various social media platforms. From Twitter to Facebook and LinkedIn, make sure you have a presence on all of the major sites. This exposure will put you a click away from millions of new contacts.
It is just as important to network online as it is to network in person. Tell everyone in your online communities that you are looking for a job. You'll be surprised by how many people will ask for your resume or know someone for you to contact. If you don't put it out there, no one can help you.
3. Brand Yourself
Everyone needs a brand online. Find what makes you special and capitalize on it. When someone visits your social media profiles, it should be distinctly "you." Create a short, professional bio that lists your skills and use it on all of your social profiles. Also, use the same professional headshot (no photos with your family or out golfing) as your avatar, a.k.a. profile picture. In addition, it can be helpful to create a personal or business logo to display as your Twitter background and Facebook cover photo. Keeping this consistency solidifies your brand and will make it easy for potential employers to find you.
4. Display Your Expertise
Don't assume that everyone on your friend list or Twitter feed knows what you do. Make it known that you are an expert in your respective field by using your "About Me" section to shed light on your work history. It is also helpful to share articles relevant to your industry and retweet posts from companies you want to work for. Let your expertise shine!
5. Join the Conversation
So many companies and organizations have online parties to discuss employment tips and hiring practices. Participate in these events. Join groups on LinkedIn and chime in on the discussions. Do a search for "jobs" on Twitter, and you will see a number of different parties that you can participate in. Many individual Facebook pages also have threads or ongoing conversations.
This is an opportunity for you to continue learning without the expense of tuition. Read tweets, Facebook timelines, LinkedIn posts (groups, companies, individuals), to stay on top of developments in your industry. Just because you are out of work, doesn't mean your knowledge and skills should suffer. You can even use this time to learn more about the companies you desire to work for.
Are you using social media to look for work? Share your story below!
This post originally appeared on katiecouric.com.