1. Build Your Social Network
In order for you to find a job, people need to know you're looking. That means telling family, friends, acquaintances — just about everybody you meet. But it also means you need to get yourself on the big three social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Social media is the fastest and most efficient way to spread the word about your job hunt and to keep in touch with friends who may hear about openings. On these sites, you can join groups of people in your field, compare notes, and get answers to job-related questions. What's more, potential employers are also online and looking. "The number of companies that use social media websites to recruit job candidates increased more than 50 percent in the last three years," says Hank Jackson, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
How do you use these platforms? There's plenty of advice available, starting on the sites themselves. (You'll also find social media tips at our technology channel.) Facebook is most often used for networking with friends. Twitter lets you post pithy (140-character) comments — called tweets — that contain your observations, opinions, and knowledge. You can also read tweets posted by people you'd like to work for, allowing you to better understand who they are and how to impress them. Additionally, employers and job sites often post openings on Twitter. (TwitJobSearch is just one of the applications that help you find jobs online.)
LinkedIn is used primarily for career-related interactions, letting folks know your professional history and connections, and it's a must for job seekers. An important section on your LinkedIn page spotlights letters of recommendation. Request these from your bosses and colleagues, including people you know through volunteer positions. On LinkedIn, as on other career sites, you get back what you put out, so write at least as many recommendations as you request.
Also check out Google's networking function, Google+, which lets you organize your family, friends, and professional contacts into separate groups. The benefit: You don't have to bore your friends with your insights on, say, supply-chain logistics, or worry that potential employers will learn more than they need to about your bowling-league victory bash.
Another way to build your network is by blogging about your area of expertise on a free site, such as Wordpress or Blogspot. Maintaining a blog takes a lot of time and effort, but it can help you interact with others in your field. The blog site will instruct you about how to create a basic blog. After that it's up to you to research and write short entries on (preferably) a daily basis. And here's an idea: Once you have a blog, call notables in your field and ask to interview them briefly for a short article you're writing. You may get a lot of "No, thanks," but it's a great way to make contacts. Read up on the person and have five or so questions ready before you approach them. The same people who don't like cold calls about job openings will often respond warmly to questions about their pet project or specialty.