When Marci O'Connor was laid off from her job in mid-November, the first place she turned was Facebook.
Her Facebook friends seemed like a natural networking choice for Ms. O'Connor, a Montreal-based social media consultant, since they had proven to be invaluable promoters of her online clothing-swap business, Suzie Swapper, since its 2009 launch.
Within two days of notifying her friends that she was unemployed, she landed new work, including a consulting gig with personal finance expert Gail Vaz-Oxlade, host of Til Debt Do Us Part.
Ms. O'Connor says that for her, Facebook has been more effective than LinkedIn or Twitter for finding business opportunities. While she posts links to her blog on all of her social media profiles, in terms of traffic, she gets the most from Facebook.
While LinkedIn is often the first website people think of when job searching, many are having better luck on Facebook, a recent Jobvite survey reports. Jobvite found that while 48 per cent of job seekers have used Facebook in their job search, only 26 per cent have used LinkedIn. In Canada, with an unemployment rate of 7.4 per cent in November, 69 per cent of job seekers are using Facebook, while only 38 per cent are using LinkedIn, and 22 per cent have received a job offer through one of those websites.
In addition, Canadian employers are using Facebook, before LinkedIn, when conducting background checks on candidates during the recruitment process, reports a CareerBuilder.com study. Facebook has more than seven times the number of members compared to LinkedIn.
Another difference between the sites is that on Facebook, more people are connected with friends and family than co-workers. The people who know you the best and longest are more willing to help you secure a job than random acquaintances you've met at networking events, Ms. O'Connor said.
Here are some Facebook job search strategies you can use to get a job:
1. Notify your Facebook friends that you're job searching. A lot of people are afraid to publish the fact that they are jobless and are searching for new opportunities. If your friends and family aren't aware that you're looking for work, they can't help you. Ask your Facebook friends if they know of any opportunities or if they can refer you to either a recruiter or hiring manager.
2. Use other social networks, and a blog, in combination with Facebook. As Ms. O'Connor noted, she was using Twitter and LinkedIn while simultaneously promoting herself on Facebook to acquire a larger audience of people who could hire her. She also used a blog to get her ideas out and to attract a strong readership base, which translated into more Facebook friends. A blog is a tool that allows other people to understand who you are and what you do.
3. Add professional networking applications to your Facebook profile. Both BranchOut.com and BeKnown are professional networking tools that use the Facebook social graph. They can help you grow your list of contacts through introductions, much like LinkedIn. You can see who in your Facebook network can refer you to job openings based on their employer and role in the company. BeKnown is Monster.com's latest project and it fully integrates with their extensive list of job postings. It's available on Monster.ca as well.
4. Be smart about your privacy settings. Remember that employers are using Facebook to review your profile to verify your identity, to see if you'll fit in with the corporate culture and to catch you posting explicit content online. If you're using Facebook for your family and friends only, then make your profile completely private and create a new profile or page for your professional image. This way, employers will find your professional page and you won't have to worry about your personal one. As Ms. O'Connor says, "I will never say anything on Facebook I would not want my children, employer or mother-in-law to read."
Dan Schawbel, recognized as a "personal branding guru" by The New York Times, is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, a full-service personal branding agency. Dan is the author of Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future and the founder of the syndicated Personal Branding Blog.