Social media can both help and hurt when looking for a job

If you spend too much time online, prospective employers could wonder where you find the time.

When it comes to finding a job, it’s often about who you know. Yet, a recent survey by Jobvite found that 61 percent of job seekers believe it has become harder to find a job within the last year, and one-third of them are less optimistic they’ll find the right job.

“I see this every day with GovLoop fellows who say it’s getting harder and harder to find a job each year,” Andrew Krzmarzick, director of community engagement for GovLoop, said Thursday during a webinar sponsored by the group. “It just seems like it’s taking longer, and they’re having to have a few more interviews. The bad news is that opportunities to attend events, conferences and in-person networking [opportunities] are getting cut, particularly in government.”

So how does a government employee make those critical networking connections and get an edge over the competition in finding a job? Krzmarzick said boosting your online interactions through social media is your best bet. “All it takes is a little time, intention and consistency,” he said.

Krzmarzick recommended leveraging websites like Facebook, GovLoop, LinkedIn and Twitter to help make those online connections and showcase your skills and experience.

On Facebook, where many users look to connect more personally and socially than professionally, it’s still a good idea have a pristine profile, Krzmarzick said. A recent survey by found that 37 percent of employers screen candidates using social media, with one-third saying they’ve rejected applicants because of what they’ve found. As a result, it’s important to only post appropriate, professional photos of yourself and keep your communications clean. Facebook users also may benefit from creating lists of close friends, acquaintances and restricted users where they can sort out what content certain friends can see, Krzmarzick said.

With other social networking websites, like LinkedIn and Twitter, it’s important to keep your profiles current and to integrate information like blog posts, news articles or books you’re reading or events you’re attending that showcase your knowledge and skills. Krzmarzick pointed to an example of a former chief learning officer at the Energy Department who used LinkedIn to launch the first group of CLOs in government and industry. Thatgroup now has over 2,000 members, and that employee has been invited to speak at numerous speaking events, Krzmarzick said.

“Check out LinkedIn and see if there is a group related to your expertise,” he said. “If not, why not create it?”

Still, while it can be easy to get wrapped up in using social media to make those connections and land your dream job, the important thing to remember is to strike the right balance, Krzmarzick said. “You might not want to be on there all the time because it might raise questions about your job performance,” he said. “The employer may question how this person uses this [social media] all the time and yet gets the job done.” 

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