Social Media: A Job Seeker’s Best New Tool

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It was the Friday before Thanksgiving when David Atkins received a call that changed his future.

Like more than two million people this year, Atkins lost his job as a technical operations manager for an Internet company. His last day will be Dec. 31.

Atkins' company shrank its work force by about half. During this recessionary period, employee cutbacks are the norm, but unlike those laid off eight years ago when the technology bubble burst, this new crew of job seekers are using social media to move on with their careers.

SOCIAL MEDIA WORKS FOR THE UNEMPLOYED
For Atkins, a two-year company veteran whose firm is assisting its employees in finding new career opportunities, embracing the Web and what it has to offer made his transition less stressful. The MIT and Seattle University graduate turned to three social media tools to start networking: Twitter, LinkedIn and Blitztime.

These sites put a new spin on old job search methods, increasing contacts while saving users the shoe leather and glad handing job seekers have traditionally relied on.

For instance, on Twitter, users define what they’re doing in 140 words or less, broadcasting their answer, commonly referred to as a tweet, to the Twitter universe in order to attract responses. Relationships from personal comments can then translate to lunch meetings to discuss career opportunities or can give individuals a spotlight in the increasingly crowded unemployment field. Famed startup king and online editor Guy Kawasaki has more than 37,000 folks that follow his tweets.

Over on LinkedIn users can find a mix of employments listings organized in ways that provide job seekers with opportunities to demonstrate their skill set to new groups. Blitztime brings social networking to your phone. The site offers “speed networking” that works as a connector by creating conference calls with likeminded careerists.



FROM ONLINE HOBBY TO HOT LEAD GENERATOR
Simply sending a resume is yesteryears way of tackling unemployment. “The bulk of my effort is to meet as many people as possible and get my name out there as someone that knows a lot about technology and social media,” says Atkins. He previously used hisLinkedIn profile and Facebook as more of hobby than an actual work connection, he says, but now is using those tools as a principal way to find the next assignment.

While Atkins awaits his last day, blogging has also become a useful tool. And these days there is more of an activist approach about unemployment, says Atkins: People “don’t see themselves as a victim.”

Are you wondering how to take advantage of what the online community has to offer? Here are three tips from Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, on how to maximize the online and social media world for jobs:

1. BE YOURSELF. When using social media tools to network, always be authentic and transparent with your conversations. Taking genuine interest in others is a proven strategy for building tighter relationships with professional contacts.

2. STAY CURRENT
. Make sure that your profile on social networking sites is always updated with your latest experience and professional interests and best represents your brand.

3. BE ACTIVE. Start a blog under your field of expertise, post regularly and use it to build a community, which will in turn provide you with opportunities, such as a job.

A HAPPY ENDING AND A NEW BEGINNING
Not long after his MainStreet interview, Atkins wrote from his twitter account that he had good news: “My first consulting project proposal was accepted by a person who knew me because of my local blogging.”

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