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Using social media for job searches

Finding a job might appear to be different today than it was five years ago, thanks to the growth of social networking. But can social networking really help you find a job? Alexandra Anderson, associate director of career services at Southwestern University, is available to discuss topics such as the following:

How has job hunting changed over the past five years?

Fundamentally, I think the job search is not so different bt just in-person or phone, but now also through numerous social media. While technology facilitates the ease and speed with which employers can advertise positions and candidates can respond, this ease leads to a deluge of applications which are costly (in terms of time) for employers to sort through and challenge candidates to stand out from the competition. Making a personal connection outside of this technology tidal wave is essential.

What role do social media play in job-hunting today?

Social media help us maintain our “rolodex” of contacts in one convenient place. They also provide speedy access to contacts, increasing the size and interconnectedness of our web of contacts in comparison to what people probably used to manage. Social media are still just tools, though, to help us make and keep connections.  Most people won’t accept friend requests on Facebook or connection requests on LinkedIn from people they haven’t actually met in person and interacted with. Consequently, the old-school, in-person networking process is still alive and well. That being said, social media sites like Facebook can help you find old friends who might now have relevant advice or resources to help you with your job search. LinkedIn can help you easily identify individuals working for a particular employer, research career paths (e.g. a veteran can search for his/her military job title and find other veterans’ profiles and see what their career progression after the military has been), make direct contact without an intermediate introduction to an alumnus of your university who might be more inclined to help you and even get you noticed by a recruiter who did a keyword search and found your profile/resume rather than having to weed through resumes from an advertised position. 

Are job posting sites such as Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com effective?

It never hurts to look, especially just to get ideas or to find example descriptions of positions to which you would want to pitch your resume. However, because these sites require employers to pay a fee to post, they are naturally limited to the positions where a) employers can afford to post and b) it makes financial sense to invest the money in a posting. These factors mean that many government and non-profit jobs are absent from these sites because those employers may not want to invest their limited resources to pay for postings. Also, jobs or specific organizations that are in high demand are often absent because those employers don’t need to pay to advertise – they are inundated with unsolicited applications as it is. Positions with high turnover (which a candidate might rightly be wary of) might also be more likely to recruit using these sites, since they need to drum up business. Nonetheless, I always recommend looking at the sites – they’re free, after all – but limiting the amount of time you spend on them to about 5-10 percent of your total efforts.

Much more effective use of the Internet is using a search engine to research what employers exist in a particular area (e.g. “Austin non-profits”) and then looking up those individual employers directly. Employers are most likely to advertise postings on their own websites, if they advertise at all. Also, look for targeted third-party sites like professional organizations which often have job posting sections.

Alex Anderson can be reached at 512-863-1265 or afca@southwestern.edu