Networking is a key part of the job search process. While many animal career seekers find success with face to face networking (attending professional events or asking friends and colleagues for connections), social media networking is becoming an increasingly important part of the job hunt. There are three major social media sites that will help you make valuable career connections:LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a business networking site that allows you to make connections with friends, coworkers, and other professionals in your field. You can create a profile, upload your resume, and perform searches to see if any of your connections know someone who works for an organization you are interested in. If so, your connection may be open to putting you in touch with their associate.
You should also join professional groups on LinkedIn and participate in their discussions. There are many groups designed to cater to those who work in animal related careers, and a simple search may pull up dozens of options. Participation in these groups can put you in touch with more people working in your field, and in turn they may be willing to make a connection with you on the site and expand your network.Facebook
Facebook is a social site that allows you to “friend” people you know so that you can read their status updates, see photos, and keep in touch. If you are entering the job market, you may wish to post a status update announcing your job search and a description of the type of position you are looking for. One of your friends might know of an open position, or at the very least they will keep an eye out.
You might also consider “liking” the professional pages of recruiters, industry experts, and businesses you hope to work for. These pages can give you job search tips, educate you about developments in the industry, and alert you to open positions.
It is important that you protect your privacy on Facebook by limiting access to your page so that potential employers do not see any photos or comments that could cast any negative light upon you as a candidate. This can be accomplished by changing the settings on your Facebook account from “public” to “friends only.” You can also opt to use the “lists” feature in Facebook and create a separate list for professional contacts, so that they are not able to see the personal posts directed towards friends and relatives.Twitter
Twitter is a site that allows you make connections by “following” the posts of other users, and allows them to reciprocate by following your posts as well. Twitter allows you to interact with others in your field that may have no prior connection to you.
By following the right users (including colleagues and recruiters in the field) you can position yourself to find out about job openings quickly. Retweeting their tweets may prompt them to follow you in return. Your tweets on industry topics and trends can help you to make a name for yourself with potential employers. You may participate in group chats about your particular animal career or more general “job search” chats.Make Social Media Work for You
The most valuable aspect of social media is that it allows you to find those who can assist you by providing a direct referral to a potential employer. Candidates with a referral from a current employee of a company generally have significantly higher rates of success in obtaining available positions. Even if a position is not currently available you can make that connection and stay in touch; they may be able to help you in the future.
Keep in mind that you should develop your “brand” across the sites, and be sure to highlight your particular strengths and specialty skills. While the potential employer should not be able to access your Facebook page, your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts are likely to be viewed as part of the vetting process. Make sure that the information you present is accurate and professional, and carefully choose the picture you will use on your profile. Be aware that most companies will run a Google search on your name; your active social media sites will pop up at the top of the search rankings.
You can also use social media sites and Google searches to gain valuable background information about those that work at a particular company, potentially even the people who will conduct your interview. Knowledge of the interviewer’s business philosophy and interests could be an advantage when you meet with them to discuss a job.