Best Practices for Using Social Media to Win Your Dream Job:  Part 1 by Maribeth Kuzmeski

If you’re one of the many Americans today braving the job market, you’ve probably learned that your social media presence can make you or break you. Relationship-building expert Maribeth Kuzmeski explains how to use your online presence to leave a great impression with potential employers.

In today’s tough employment market, your social media presence can make you (as you tweet your way to a new job) or break you (as that regrettable Facebook photo sends your crumpled résumé sailing into the trash). Yes, like it or not, the “social” in social media is misleading: The phenomenon has now fully permeated our professional lives. And according to Maribeth Kuzmeski, that means if you’re one of America’s 13.9 million unemployed or if you’re just looking to make your next career move, it’s time to consider how to use that reality to your advantage.

Of course, the Web has been an integral part of job searches for years now,” notes Kuzmeski, author of The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life and …And the Clients Went Wild! How Savvy Professionals Win All the Business They Want . “But it’s been in only the past couple of years that social media has gotten so important.”

I think many job seekers find out the hard way that it can be a double-edged sword,” she adds. “If you have the right kind of online presence, it can greatly improve your chances of getting hired, but one wrong move and employers might shun you. You have to remember the connections you make online define you. When you’re trying to get hired, you have to be careful of what they say.

Kuzmeski knows all about making the right impression. An expert on the art of connecting, she teaches her clients how to connect with their customers in order to win business and build loyalty. These same relationship-building skills can help job seekers make the right kind of connections via social media.

Read on for Kuzmeski’s advice on how to get hired (and avoid being fired!) using social media.

Mine your social networking connections. You’ve got all those Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, and followers on Twitter for a reason—use them! In your job search, you should always look to the fruit closest to the ground. Is anyone in your social network working for a company that would be a good fit for you? If so, ask them to keep you in mind the next time a position opens up, or pitch them on your experience and they just might put you in touch with their HR department. If you’re currently employed but looking to go elsewhere, just be sure to keep your communication as private as possible. You don’t want people posting job opportunities or job search well-wishes on your Facebook Wall where a coworker or your boss might see them.

“Also, keep in mind the focus of your networking—social and otherwise—should not be on gaining an immediate job offer from those in your network,” says Kuzmeski. “In fact, that tactic almost never works. The goal should, instead, be to build a mutually beneficial relationship with someone who may never even be able to give you a job, but might know someone who can.

“For example, maybe someone in your network is in a completely different industry from you, but has a huge network of friends on Facebook,” she adds. “He might not be able to help you get a job at his company, but someone in his network might have the perfect opportunity for you. Don’t count anyone out of your networking efforts, especially those who are the closest to you and therefore the most willing to help.”

Put your best Face(book) forward. According to’s 2010 Social Recruiting Survey, 83 percent of employers plan to use social networks to recruit this year. Will you be someone they hire or someone they avoid? To find out about the “real” side of potential employees, some employers are Googling them as well as checking out their Facebook and Twitter pages. Before you kick off your job search, make sure your Facebook page and other social media profiles are clean and professional.

“If you have any embarrassing or inappropriate material on your profile, it could be quite off-putting to your potential employer,” Kuzmeski advises. “Do yourself a favor and remove those materials. And when you’re engaging in social media activity, think of yourself as a public figure who may have your every word scrutinized.

“And if you think that simply making your profiles private will solve the problem, beware,” she warns. “A twenty-something job searcher recently told me about a new tactic that some employers are using. The interviewer asks the candidate to pull up his Facebook page—right there in the interview, leaving him no time to clean anything up! Yes, social media is a lot of fun, but make sure if you’re looking for a job that your social media sites help, not hurt, your cause.”

Monitor your online reputation. As mentioned above, companies are checking up on people before they even invite them for an interview. And while you know what you’ve posted about yourself online, you might not know about what others have posted about you or your company. One of the easiest ways to monitor your reputation is by setting up Google Alerts that will inform you of anything that has appeared about you online. Just go to and set up a free alert of your name and your company’s name (if relevant). Whenever anything appears online that you or someone else has posted about you, an email will be sent to you with a link to the online occurrence.

“Ultimately, the best way to manage your online reputation is by generating positive search results through your online posts and profiles that will rank as highly as possible on any list of search results,” says Kuzmeski. “But by monitoring these search results closely, you can get out in front of any problems that might arise from something negative someone else has said about you or your current employer online. That way, at least you’ll be prepared with an explanation. Bottom line, protect your most important assets—your brand and online reputation.”

Use proactive posting to stand out online (in a good way). At a time when you’re constantly warned about everything that can be used against you online, you might have an inclination to pull back altogether on your online presence. The reality is you should do whatever you can, when you can, to build your credibility. That’s right: You can, and should, consciously and deliberately craft an online image.

“For example, if you have a well-written blog about something you are passionate about or if you are a conscientious tweeter informing your followers about interesting news stories, you can actually build a very respectable reputation online,” says Kuzmeski. “You should also consider joining the commenting communities on the Web sites or blogs of companies that interest you. By doing so, you can add to their dialogue, and the suggestions and comments you post just might catch the right someone’s eye.

Taking these steps shows you know how to use the Web wisely and that you are well rounded, well informed, and a great communicator—factors that every company wants in an employee,” she adds.

In part two Kuzmeski will share 5 more strategies to get hired in 2011.

Maribeth Kuzmeski, MBA, is the author of five books, including …And the Clients Went Wild! How Savvy Professionals Win All the Business They Want – and The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life – . She is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults with businesses from entrepreneurial firms to Fortune 500 corporations on strategic marketing planning and business growth. Maribeth has personally consulted with some of the world’s most successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, and professionals. An internationally recognized speaker, she shares the tactics that businesspeople use today to create more sustainable business relationships, sales, and marketing successes.