During the process of my job search, my father has remarked more times than I can count that he would not be able to find a job today. There is simply too much technology involved. Everyone is on social networking. Most applications processes begin online. In short, you have to understand technology, computers, and internet tools like social networking in order to have an effective job search.
The first thing you need to do, if you have not already done it, is to clean up your current social network accounts. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (yikes, I can’t believe I just cited them) has an excellent article on this topic. But basically, you are not networking with classmates anymore. You are now networking with potential employers, and your online personality should reflect that.
Something that helped me in this area was separate accounts. It was a little confusing at first, but eventually it becomes second nature. I locked down my old profile, went to the strictest privacy settings available, and then started a new profile from scratch. I included some old pictures, most of which demonstrating my community involvement and conferences. This is now the only account that shows up in general searches. My old account is for family and extremely close friends only.
As far as social networking for a job search, you at least need a LinkedIn account. I would also encourage you to make use of Facebook and Twitter as well. They both allow you to connect with leaders in your field. I mean, it IS called social NETWORKING. As long as you maintain a professional demeanor, it can’t hurt.
Finally, I strongly encourage you to create a personal webpage for your resume and related documents. Mine has also been expanded to include a class webpage for my students as well. While LinkedIn has a lot of powerful features, there is only so much a social networking site, even one based on promoting your resume, can accomplish. They do not have an area for everything. That’s where a fully customizable website can come in handy.
I have mine broken down into Resume and CV, Research, and Teaching. I then have the research and teaching broken down further into types of research and courses I have taught in further sub-pages. While you may be terrified at the thought of HTML coding and building a website from scratch, you will be pleased to know now it is not necessary. My webpage is hosted by Google Sites and I had my custom URL point to it. Webs and Wix will both do basically the same thing. Wix is even flash based, so it is a bit more appealing. I used Google mainly because it is the same basic system as Blogger and I can use the same template on both sites, and they flow together better. One added bonus is that Google indexes their own sites and ranks them higher than other sites. This means that most searches of generic terms related to me (“MPA Resume” or “Simpson MPA”) I am generally in the top three results. If you conduct a search for “MPA Georgia” I am a bit further down in the results, but I am still in the first individuals (instead of university programs) listed.
It all comes down to getting your name into the market in a positive light. If you can do that, use any methods available to do so. If the technology becomes a barrier, don’t use it. It is better not to have a web presence than to have a major web presence and it be presenting you in an unprofessional, immature, or unreliable light.