Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How to Use Facebook Chat in Your Job Search

Facebook chat isn’t just for kids.

Remember Facebook now has 75M members (compared to 15M total US college students) – Facebook is about 50% business.

Sure, your teenaged kids use chat as a way of communicating with friends when they aren’t wearing out their thumbs on text messaging. Even major enterprises have instituted internal IMs as a communication tool.

But Facebook chat is a LOT more powerful than kids chatting, with a little creativity in its use. So how to make it work as an effective tool in your job search?

Facebook chat is like being at a networking event filled with thought leaders, industry experts, authors, and top industry recruiters…and you don’t even have to bring business cards. Look at it this way…would you like to be able to easily start conversations with industry leaders and recruiters in your industry? Could that help you to network and search for your next job?

Facebook chat itself is a breeze to use. With no installation, it sits on the right margin of your Facebook screen. All you have to do is set whether you are available or not for chats. But let’s back up a sec, because before you can make Facebook chat more than just a toy, you’ve got to do some prep first. But once you do, Facebook chat will be an important communications and personal branding tool.

In a job search, it’s critical to find who to chat with, and what to say. Sending an IM to your online chat available contacts saying “Got any Jobs?”, or “Need an IT Manager?” probably isn’t the most effective way to leverage your job search. Worse, that move will likely just annoy your intended audience, along with everyone else you’ve pinged.

The first trick to empower Facebook chat is building the right audience. As a job seeker, you’ll want an audience of business leaders, peers, authors, other job seekers, and headhunters in your industry or with your Subject Matter Expertise. If you can’t figure out where to find them, start with Facebook Groups. For help, refer to my article: Facebook Strategies – The power of Facebook Groups.

Once you’ve started a network of industry experts, find out who they are networked with. Either ask for an invitation, or just invite directly with a personalized note. If your search is geographically based, choose experts from all over, but connect mainly to the experts’ contacts in your region.

So how do you IM someone without annoying them? I find that starting a conversation that is focused on helping the other person, is a great icebreaker. IM with a link to an article, saying you thought it might help them. If you’re IMing a blogger, comment on a recent post, ask what they think about industry developments. Make the conversation about ANYTHING other than your job search.

At the end of your chat, do a “Columbo” (remember that old show?). When you’re saying goodbye, say “I almost forgot”, “By the way”, or “one Last thing”….”I’m looking for a career change in this field…do you have any advice?...who would be a good person to talk to?...what would you do in this situation?” If the chat ends too soon, but you’ve established some Chat rapport, send this in a Facebook email, after thanking for the chat and their insights.

If you’re asked for a resume, make sure yours is online, so you can send a link through Chat. Better yet, send a link to your ResuBlog that contains your own industry insight, as well as your resume.

To sum up….Facebook chat is a power rapport building tool, but not a resume spamming tool. With the right preparation, right audience, and polite messaging, Facebook Chat can leverage and accelerate your job search.

If you’d like more information, a free 30 minute resume consultation, or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

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