Posted By: Deanna DeBenedictis

In this modern world, there are few tools and resources that can help search the job market faster than a strong social network. Friends are the new job security, and the power of social connection can drive your career forward faster than you may realize – but only if you use your network correctly. This means reaching out to those who can help you, asking for advice, scheduling informational interviews, and attending every industry meet-and-greet within a thirty-mile radius. It also means making the most of your time online.

Start with LinkedIn. LinkedIn is designed to connect those who have crossed paths in the professional sphere and who are interested in sharing job leads, project opportunities, and business connections. So if you're on the market and you don't have a profile already, sign up—the service is free and you don't have to spend more than just a few minutes checking in each day. Try these techniques to maximize the value of those minutes:

1. Complete a summarized and simplified version of your resume. Let your profile visitors know what you do, where you've worked in the past, and where you went to school. You don't have to provide every detail, but hit the primary and most memorable points. Include keywords that your potential employers may use to conduct a profile search.

2. Start by connecting to a few close friends and former co-workers (begin with people you know well and have worked with closely), and allow the site to suggest new connections for you based on your email address book.

3. Allow LinkedIn to send you information about potential jobs and posts for available positions. The site has excellent algorithms that match open positions with your specific skills and requirements. Don't just ignore these suggestions– take a closer look.

4. Don't confuse LinkedIn with Facebook. Instead of publishing chatty, personal updates on your profile, keep things cool and professional, and share only the links and articles that tie you into the business community and showcase your area of expertise.

5. Be efficient. Social media should account for less than ten percent of the daily time you dedicate to your job search. Get on, get off, and get back into the real world as soon as possible.

Blend social media into your offline job search in a way that makes the best possible use of your skills, your personal connections, and your time.

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