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Using Social Networking in Your Job Search

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In the current economy, it goes without saying that job seekers need to take advantage of all available employment resources.
Using Social Networking in Your Job Search

In the current economy, it goes without saying that job seekers need to take advantage of all available employment resources.  This includes, of course, traditional avenues, such as recruiters, colleagues, friends, family and job posting websites.  More than ever, it also includes exploiting new, innovative and even unconventional methods.  Those who embrace and exploit these newer technologies will gain a significant advantage over their colleagues who are restricting themselves to established job search methods.  While there are a host of emerging technologies that can assist job seekers, this article will focus on the use of social networking and social media to expand the reach and scope of their pursuit of their next job.

 
First, a note on terminology. The phrase "social networking" has been around long before the invention of Facebook.  It generally refers to interconnected groups of individuals who are "tied" together by some common thread, whether it be dating, sharing news and information or a love of Frisbee golf.  The term has been co-opted by exploding internet phenomenons like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter and now is commonly used to denote an internet service that facilitates connecting and re-connecting with friends, colleagues and family (and ex-girlfriends) to share information, stories, pictures and videos, and to let everyone know exactly what you are doing, all the time.



 
But apart from mere amusement, there is significant value in using these resources in a strategic manner to enhance and expand your job search.  Below are a few suggestions to get you on your way.


 

 
Unless you have been hiding out in a cave in Afghanistan for the past few years (that's you, Bin Laden), you are at least familiar with Facebook. In fact, Facebook reports that it has more than 175 million active users, with the fastest growth activity in the over-30 demographic.  Think about that for a second. Where else can you, an individual, get access to 175 million people, and their associated 350 million eyeballs? Unless you plan to buy a Superbowl ad, the answer is "nowhere."  So, how do you leverage your Facebook account to help you find a job?


 
First, it may be time for a Facebook face lift. If until now you've used your Facebook account to showcase your recently re-discovered archives of drunken college photos (or drunken photos from last week), you'll need to do some spring cleaning. As tough as it may be, you must remove those photos (and un-tag yourself in your friends similarly debaucherous pictures) to be sure that your image isn't promptly tainted in the eyes of potential employers. Clean up your profile, your photos, your videos and your wall posts.  Don't leave anything that might give a potential employer a second thought about hiring you. If it wouldn't go on your resume, don't leave it on your Facebook page. (Obviously, I am not talking about the typical harmless Facebook banter among friends, but rather the borderline inappropriate stuff.)


 
Second, join Facebook groups. Lots of them. Join the affiliate and alumni groups for your college, law school and current and past jobs.  Search for and join groups for your elementary school, junior high school, high school, old neighborhoods, club sports, and favorite musical artists. Joining groups accomplishes a couple of important goals.  First, you will be surprised at how quickly you will expand your Facebook friends. As you peruse these groups, sift through the other members and connect with as many old acquaintances as possible. Not only is it fun to catch up with people you may not have seen in 20 or 30 years, but you never know whether one of these long-lost contacts may be in a position -- directly or indirectly -- to assist in your job search.  In addition, by joining these groups, you expand your visibility to an exponentially larger group of people who are not officially "friends" on Facebook. As noted above, part of any successful job strategy is to increase your exposure to those in a position to help you get a job. Joining groups is an effortless way to expand your reach to potential employers while also re-connecting with old friends and colleagues.
 
Third, don't be afraid to let your Facebook contacts know that you are in the midst of a job search. That doesn't mean that you should be updating your status to reflect how many resumes you've sent out, but you should let folks know from time to time via succinctly-worded status updates, personal notes, chats and Facebook mail that you are on the lookout and would appreciate any referrals. Again, half of the battle is just being sure that people have you in mind when they come across a potential opportunity. Don't be shy and don't be put off by any perceived stigma -- with the hundreds of thousands of recently-unemployed (many of whom are in the legal field) any stigma that may have been associated with being out of work has essentially dissipated. I personally have been contacted by more than ten people via Facebook who are looking for work -- ranging from former co-workers to long-lost friends. Believe me, it works!


 
Lastly, if you just aren't ready to tidy up your Facebook world in the midst of your job hunting and would like to leave up all of the tawdry, bawdy and other morally-questionable information and photos, be sure to strictly control your privacy by permitting only your immediate friends to see the information on your Facebook page (change access rights under "Settings").  Even with the strictest of settings, most Google searches will turn up a generic Facebook page with your name and current profile picture, so at least keep that picture presentable!


 

 
LinkedIn has been described to me as the old persons' Facebook (sorry LinkedIn marketing folks!). It actually is a very powerful business tool where you can post an exhaustive CV and, similar to Facebook, join myriad professional and social networking groups.  Once you "link" with people on LinkedIn, you typically have access to all of the connections of your connections -- sort of like a professional version of six degrees of Kevin Bacon.  You can exchange private mail, seek introductions to third parties through your connections, post messages to networking groups, and peruse job listings -- typically posted directly by the hiring coordinators at firms and companies. Contrary to Facebook, LinkedIn is all business and you should treat it as such.  Be sure to take advantage of its powerful search tools, which give you an opportunity to conduct focused and effective research on potential employers (and interviewers) by using an advanced search function.  LinkedIn is an excellent personal marketing tool and is a must for all job seekers in today's economy.


 

 
Twitter is the new kid on the block in terms of social networking and social media, and I think a lot of people (including me) don't quite know what to make of it yet.  All I know for sure is that you should be using Twitter, and you should be using it now.  Essentially, Twitter is micro-blogging.  Via the site's home page, set up a free account, select a user name, and write a short, professional bio (50 words or less).  You then will be presented with a blank slate that asks "What are you doing?" Before you write anything, go to Twitter's "public feed" (http://www.twittter.com/public_timeline) and just watch the flow of "tweets" from other users drift by.  When you see something interesting, click on the username and you will be taken to that user's page, showing a history of their tweets.  If they interest you, click on the "follow" button and "voila," this user's tweets will now appear on your page (you are now "following" them in the Twitter vernacular). Twitter also has some handy web tools that will check your existing contact lists for Twitter users and help you to identify your friends and colleagues already using the service. You also can search for people directly via the Search page.


 
Once you're following a few people, you are ready to start tweeting yourself. You can do this from the website, your phone, your Blackberry, or any number of different ways. The catch is that you have to limit each entry to 140 characters or less (including links, punctuation and spaces).  You can tweet about anything you like, but if you're using Twitter to help search for a job, it's useful to tweet about professional topics relating to your field.  If you read an interesting article or blog entry, for example, write a short, catchy lead and then include a link for other users to the information source.  If your tweets are interesting and useful to others, you'll quickly start to amass followers of your own, each of whom will now see your entries on their own page along with others they follow.
 
How does using Twitter help you find a job? Well, honestly, that's not entirely clear right now, but there is no question is that it is a vast resource for communicating directly with thousands of people in the legal industry -- lawyers, recruiters, hiring coordinators, legal scholars, and others -- and gaining an insight into their daily (or hourly) thought processes. Unlike Facebook, your fellow Twitter users don't need to "approve" you as a friend for you to follow them (although you can be blocked), and users routinely follow 500 or more others.  Like Facebook and LinkedIn, you can communicate privately or publicly with other users through sending direct messages and posting "replies" to users that appear on their public page.


 
Another critically important feature of Twitter is that it is an effortless way to keep up to date on news and information.  Many organizations also are using Twitter -- including major legal publications, law firms, legal blogs and newspapers.  By following these users on Twitter you will receive an up-to-the-minute snapshot of the current state of the industry.  Many organizations are even starting to list new jobs on Twitter.  Seek out and follow legal practitioners who have interesting tweets and don't be afraid to contact your fellow Twitter users directly to ask about job opportunities.  Twitter still has the feel of an emerging technology and users are extraordinarily helpful to each other in providing information and introductions.


 
In summary, Twitter is a little hard to describe, but once you start using it you will see that it can be an extremely effective tool in your job search.  Like the other services described above, it won't supplant traditional networking, but by expanding your connections and broadening your knowledge base, it will improve your chances of success in your job search.


About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog, HarrisonBarnes.com, and BCGSearch.com, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.


About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit www.BCGSearch.com.

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives


Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.


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