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Online Networking

Learn about online networking and how to use the Internet in your job search.

The most popular websites include some type of social interaction such as creating your own profile, uploading photos, and sending messages to people. These online activities are called "social networking."

All types of people use computers, their cell phones, and other technology to create content and connect with friends and family on social networks. Using online networking for business or job search also is a good idea.

Why Use Online Networking?

Online networking helps you learn about industries and companies. You also can get introduced to, and develop relationships with future coworkers and supervisors. Plus, companies use social networking to find and check out employees before they decide to interview or hire them.

Social networking is a great way to market yourself to employers. A professional online identity (profile) can be as important as your resume. You can make a first impression as a skilled job candidate and your criminal record won’t be an issue.

What to Know Before You Log On

  • Check with your Parole Officer to see if you have any rules or restrictions for your use of computer technology or how you interact with people.
  • Think about your goals for using social networking. What type of people do you want to connect with? What type of information do you want to give about yourself?
  • Do not post photos in bad taste or use bad language. Present a positive, professional image of yourself on all websites and apps.
  • Don't list personal information or post comments, photos, or videos that you wouldn't want an employer to see. Think of everything you put online as public information.
  • Be careful of scams for fake job positions, training, or job search help. Do not send money or give private information to anyone you don't know.

Online Networking For Career Information

Many social networking sites and apps can help with your job search or career advancement.

Here are a few of the most common ones:

LinkedIn is a useful site for people in professional-level jobs. More than 260 million active users use it each month to keep up-to-date about their industries, have discussions, and find job openings. Groups on LinkedIn are also a good place to ask questions and learn about job leads.

Facebook is a popular tool for socializing and sharing content about yourself. If you use it only to stay in touch with friends and family, play online games, and post your pictures, keep your privacy settings as high as possible. Your Facebook profile may include a great deal of private information that would be illegal for an employer to ask. Some of it may hurt your chances of landing a job.

If you choose to use Facebook for career purposes, it is important to clean up your profile. Remove any posts, comments, photos, or online games that an employer might not approve of. Also, be careful about which groups you join and how you act online.

Twitter is a useful tool for job seekers and employers. When you follow a Twitter user, you can see their messages (up to 280 characters) called "tweets." Employers and others often use Twitter to announce job openings. You can search for tweets with certain job titles or find out about companies and industry trends.

Blogs are a common way for people and companies to get information out. Find blogs that keep you up-to-date about your career or your industry. Blogs show up in regular web searches.

Electronic mailing lists (sometimes referred to as LISTSERVs) have been around for years. They allow users to send an email message to a group of people all at once. Some are set up as discussion groups and allow people on the list to talk back and forth. The best way to find an email list of interest to you is to check if professional associations in your industry have one.

The networking tools above are just a start. Search online for other sites and apps to help you in your job search related to your career goals. Different Internet resources are popular for different careers, regions, and industries.

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