We Get By With a Little Rec from our Friends (& By Getting There First)

Each month, I participate in the Career Collective with a group of colleagues who blog about a common topic related to career development and job search. Up this month: The topic of social media and how to use it for job search.

 

It’s hard to believe, but it was less than four years ago – in 2007 – that I first heard the term “social media.” And at first, I didn’t even hear about “social media;” I saw a poster for a panel on new media at the New School in New York, and I wondered what it was all about. (I don’t think I need to tell you that I wasn’t one of the ones who got an e-mail from LinkedIn for being a member of the “first million users” club.)

 

I missed the panel, so I signed up to organize a panel later that year – at the time I was working in a career services office for students. And I was curious – what was new media? What was this thing people were referring to as social media?

One of the panelists who participated on the panel worked for Nickelodeon gave a description of “new media” versus “old media” that I’ve never quite forgotten:

 

“Old media,” she said “is like flipping through television using your remote control. It’s passive. Like sitting on the couch.”

 

“New media,” or “social media…is about open engagement. It’s about leaning forward. Participating in conversations, and having something to say.”

 

To me, that says it all.

 

Since December, I’ve been collaborating with StartWire, a new site that helps close the loop for job seekers by providing feedback and automatic updates on your job application status. My StartWire colleagues share my interest in how hiring works, and how employers make decisions.  StartWire features include tools that help you leverage your LinkedIn and Facebook connections to get referred for jobs of interest, as well as a way to share your job search activity with friends who may be able to help.

I’m probably not telling you anything new when I say “we get by with a little rec” from our friends, but here’s a new piece of data that shows just how competitive the hiring landscape is. Recently, StartWire evaluated 6,600 hires made in 2010 across ten different industries and found something interesting: roughly 50% of successful job seekers applied within the first week a position was listed. To me, this is a conversation we don’t often have in conversations about social media and job search: in talking about the best ways to apply, we often don’t emphasize the sheer importance of being first in line.

It’s important to be top of mind in the hiring process – whether you get there through an introduction by a friend or by applying early; you want to be thought of. Social media can help you build a presence, pass a quick “Google search” on your name, and showcase your knowledge and level of engagement in your field. It can help you bridge the gap between job listing and interview list, between being a face in the crowd and a name to remember.

How are you leaning forward in your job search, and how can we help you close the gap between what you want to do and where you are?

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