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Most of the time, job seeking today feels much more complicated than it did in years past. In addition to your resume, cover letter, and business suit, there’s a new layer to consider: social media. Although we often don’t typically think of social media as part of our job search, it can be helpful for both the recruiter and the job seeker.

As a job seeker, participating in social media can be a positive thing. If there’s more than one person with your name, joining the social media world allows you to take ownership over your own personal brand. If you’re wondering where to begin, start with LinkedIn and then work up to other sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Job seeking is a lot like attending a dinner party. When you’re thinking of what to post on your social media, keep this in mind. If you want to share your religious beliefs, political views, or other potentially controversial thoughts, ensure that the privacy settings on your profiles are locked tight.

But, with LinkedIn, it’s best to keep things as open as you can. It’s a great idea to allow a potential employer to learn as much about you as possible. Be sure to include an updated profile photo, current employment information, and your email address. Make it easier for recruiters to find for you by including words on your profile that are relevant to your career.

Try to make time to interact with friends and colleagues on social media, so you become part of their online ecosystem. Sites like LinkedIn can be a great place to share your latest accomplishments and awards. In today’s competitive market, it’s good to try to remain top of mind. You never know who may be hiring.

Beyond creating a presence for yourself, social media can actually help in your search. First, it’s a great place to research what people are saying about your potential employer. Do their employees and customers love them or hate them? It’s also a great way to research your hiring manager and the other people who will be interviewing you.

And, if you’ve had a hard time getting the attention of the hiring manager through the traditional online application process, social media may be an option to try. It has to be done carefully, but most executives manage their own Twitter accounts, for example. It is surprising how often a C-level executive is willing to engage with positive comments online.

I have even heard of applicants tweeting a video to a company. In the video, the applicant gives their elevator pitch and asks to be considered for a certain role. It’s important to be cautious with such public displays when you currently have a full time job. But, it’s an interesting idea to consider. Wouldn’t you agree?

The degree to which you use social media in your job search is completely up to you. But, whatever you do, use it to brand yourself in a positive light rather than the latest controversy.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com.

Author: Angela Copeland

Angela Copeland is Founder and Coach for Copeland Coaching, a great way to jump start your job search. Follow her on Twitter @CopelandCoach for tips on finding the perfect job for you.

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