I started looking for a job in Silicon Valley in May 2011. In April 2012, I’m finally starting the kind of job for which I moved across the country.

The job search is exhausting and defeating. I can think of no bigger blow to my ego and self-confidence than the last 6 months of what I’ve called the Great Western Job Search. It’s not just the countless interviews, where you basically sell yourself. It’s the hundreds of resumes that get sent out, culled by systems like Taleo, and only pop if you have the right keyword. It’s this feeling that you’ve sent an endless number of resumes into the universe and you never even know if they reached the intended recipient.

I hear so much about the Social Media Job Search and I’ve come to believe that most job seekers are doing it wrong. Yes, you can use all the tools out there to find a job. But I now fully believe in the old adage: it’s who you know. Believe me, I’d heard that for years and never really believed it.

Instead of spending all day on Monster and CareerBuilder and Dice, cut that time in half. Spend the rest of your time cultivating your network using social media. Individually, let your LinkedIn contacts know you’re looking. Reach out to your Facebook friends, in small groups or individually, and let them know you’re on the marke. Make those relationships work for you. It’s your weaker ties, those friends of friends, who could very well have the job opening you want. Use the LinkedIn job search function that displays how your existing network plays into the hiring company. If you have a 2nd or 3rd removed connection to that company, those are your weak ties. Reach out and cultivate those. Get your contacts to work for you.

No more Company A or Company B. I’ve landed a job about which I’m incredibly excited. I’ll be the Senior Learning Advisor for a consulting company in Silicon Valley. It’s a new position and it looks to be both client-facing and very creative. It’s perfect for me and the team of people seems kind and amazing.

I didn’t get the job by applying through Monster or CareerBuilder.

My new company knew they wanted the position filled, so they reached out to some of their best clients. Two of those clients responded with recommendations for me, right off the bat. Why? Because I’ve worked hard to build those contacts into people who know my work and trust me. Sure, I used social media (primarily Facebook) to do that, but it all comes down to the people connection.

The new company reached out to me and 2 weeks later, I had a great offer. It came down to the people I knew and the relationships I’ve cultivated.

So, yes, use social media but spend at least 50% of your time using social to be just that … social. Cultivate and grow your network so that they can work for you.

Photo Credit: Taken from Angela Archer on Flickr via Creative Commons

Michelle is a recent, wide-eyed transplant to the San Francisco Bay area. She still runs Write Technology, where she specializes in training, social learning strategy, and social marketing. Michelle is the executive editor of My Wine Education and recently started steps towards becoming a sommelier just for the hell of it. Michelle also blogs at Total Learner, where she intends to wax poetic on what should be and what isn’t within the field of learning. 

Note: Technology press releases should be sent to michelle[at]writetech[dot]net.

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