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50-plus? Use social media to find a job
NEW YORK (4/22/14)--It's a tight market for older job seekers. Finding suitable employment takes skill and creativity. To set yourself apart, learn how to make the most of social media for your job search (Parade Publications April 12).
 
Today's employers need people who are comfortable online, and the best way to find such employees is by digital recruiting.
 
Employers will check your profile on LinkedIn, browse your Facebook page, look for your blog or website, and check to see if you're tweeting. It's called "informal recruitment," and researchers at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C., have discovered it's playing an important role in job searches.
 
Make your LinkedIn profile your first calling card for potential recruiters. Here are a few tips to help you create a winning profile:
  • Post a professional-looking photo. Potential employers are more likely to look at your profile if you include your picture. Use a recent, energetic-looking photo that shows you at your professional--not personal--best.
     
  • Demonstrate personality in the summary section. You most likely have a lot of work experience--leave out the number of years and save details for the experience section. Write in the first person, make it interesting, and write about your career in a way that helps you market yourself.
     
  • Don't hold back when completing the experience section. Unlike a paper resume where you narrow the focus for each potential employer, showcase all your careers, volunteer work, skills, and industries in which you've worked. Quantify and qualify successes as much as possible. Flesh out previous job descriptions with keywords that mirror the terminologies used by the kinds of companies you'd like to work for.
     
  • Skip graduation dates in the education section. The dates aren't important--they'll only age you, so leave them out. Employers are more interested in the quality of your work experience.
     
  • Update your status every few days. Keep it fresh to show you're active and engaged. LinkedIn is the right place to keep your network abreast of your professional accomplishments and progress. 
     
  • Make your connection requests personal. Don't use the standard message. If you don't know the person you're trying to connect with, do some research and tailor your request so the recipient takes notice.
Even if you're not actively looking for a job right now, make yourself as visible as possible. Share industry-related news once a week and join industry and special interest groups that have discussions that are meaningful to you. Post questions to the group and answer others' questions to show that you're current and innovative.
 
For related information, read "Be Cautiously Sociable on Social Networking Sites" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.


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