January 24, 2014
Do you really need social media to network or find a job?
Career experts often tout the importance of social media in the modern job search. Polish your LinkedIn profile, they say. Build a portfolio website and get a professional profile picture taken. But what if you want to maintain your privacy or stay out of social media altogether?
Then you probably frequently hear something like this: “It seems insane not to use it,” says Jim Webber, a Seattle-based human resources consultant and employment lawyer. “[Finding a job] is all about networking, and if social media can help you, wouldn’t you want to use everything you can to do this?”
Webber says he knows that not everyone is comfortable with social media, but “if your name is not out there, how can [employers] find you?” Another strategy, he says, could be to put your experience and expertise online in the form of your own website so that people can find you that way rather than, say, via Facebook.
About 73 percent of online adults use a social networking site of some kind, according to a report from the Pew Research Center. Percentage of online adults who use the following sites:
For some, it’s a matter of trust. Puget Sound-area resident Celia, who didn’t want her real name used, has serious concerns about social media and online privacy. “I don’t want to open up everything about me, including my photograph, to the world,” she says.
She found her last job through a private conversation about a workplace problem that she helped solve. “It works way better than posting a bunch of shallow stuff, not to mention opening yourself up to a possible security breach,” she says. “The fewer places you have information about yourself, the better off you are.”
Like Celia, Seattle mechanical engineer Chris Herzog isn’t on Facebook, eschews LinkedIn and vows never to tweet. “I don’t know a single person who got a job through any of those social media sites,” says Herzog. “At least nobody I know personally and no one who works for my company.”
According to Seia Milin, a local human resources professional, the effects of shunning social media may depend on your industry. A social media presence might be crucial for someone in marketing, but less important for, say, a laborer, she says.
“Resistance to posting resumes or professional profiles online makes it hard for recruiters to find you and can show less flexibility, lack of technical skills and unwillingness to upgrade your skills,” says Milin.
Seattle-area career coach Kathryn Crawford Saxer views LinkedIn as a great tool for researching companies and discovering where others are finding work. She finds it helpful, but only when used with good old-fashioned networking.
“A job search has some element of luck, and we create our own luck, to some extent,” Saxer says. “So if you apply for jobs without using social media, you might get lucky; but to maximize your luck, you really need both.”
What is Saxer’s advice for those who don’t want to be online? If an employer asks why you don’t have your own website or professional networking account, talk about it as a lifestyle choice instead of something you are reluctant or scared to do, she says.
If you aren’t online, find out where the networking events are, choose one per week and then do the hardest thing -- go. It’s also a good idea to get business cards and hand them out to friends, Saxer advises: “It’s all about the friends.”
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