If you’re lucky enough to land an invitation to join Google+, you’ll have a whole new arsenal of job search opportunities at your disposal. Google’s new social network, which is still in beta testing and available only by invitation from people who have already joined, shares some characteristics of other networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but has plenty of characteristics that are all its own.
“A lot of us in the career development field are still feeling out whether Google+ is going to change the game, become just another social media tool in the job search toolbox, or fizzle out like Google Wave did a few years back,” says Steve Brady, owner of Quality-Resumes.com. “Right now I am advising my clients to treat it like Twitter. Follow the influences in your industry and the people with hiring power in companies you are interested in. Any contact you make just increases your visibility and therefore hire-ability. Like all social media, if you are using it as a job seeking tool, them keep your comments and profiles professional, but still personable.”
Google+ offers two important improvements over other social networks. The first is the ability to keep your social life separate from your professional life, allowing you to control which parts of your profile each of your connections will see.
“Through the use of Circles, Google+ allows you to choose who sees each of your posts, photos, and videos,” explains Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com, which recently released a report about using Google+ for job searching. “You can also add potential employers and contacts to your circles without needing them to ’friend’ you back.”
The second major improvement is that Google+ facilitates conversations with complete strangers “in a way that is comfortable and natural,” says Carson Ward, director of online marketing for Lunawebs. “While online social networks made the cold approach to a company or industry leader easier, uncertainty and anxiety were still prevalent. [But with Google+,] users can choose who to share a post with, so you don’t have to worry that you’re intruding. If a post is marked public, you know immediately that public comments are welcome.”
Ward offers four steps to building relationships with potential employers on Google+:
1. Maintain a professional, complete, and up-to-date public profile. “Keep the trash talk and partying pictures within the appropriate circles,” Ward advises.
2. Identify leaders within the companies and industries you want to target. “Begin by commenting on these leaders’ public posts,” Ward says. “Don’t circle immediately. This is just to get your name known.”
3. Add to the conversation. “After adding a few comments, wait for a quality post where you have something to add,” Ward says. “It’s time to blitz. Share the post, add your comment to theirs, +1 the post, and circle the person. This increases the likelihood that you will be noticed or even ‘circled.’”
4. Continue to build the relationship. “Watch for job openings within the company; if one comes up, you’re much more likely to get an interview,” Ward says. “Private message the person, telling them you have applied for a position. As you create genuine dialogue, you move away from being ‘contacts’ and become ‘friends.’ If you reach this point, you can just tell your new friend that you’re looking for a job, and ask if he or she knows of anything available.”