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Social Networking Sites Seen Helping, Hurting Job Search

Job seekers are becoming more creative.

Internet-based networking sites are transforming the job search process at a time when the number of people out of work in the United States has reached its highest level since 1983.

Don't Expect Immediate Results

Business-oriented networking sites produce results for those who are patient.

Kurt Weyerhauser, a recruiter at the Kensington Stone executive search agency in Los Angeles, California suggests creating a resume on business networking sites such as LinkedIn or Plaxo.

On Twitter, job seekers can create a brief summary of qualifications and contact information.

"The real benefit (from these sites) is that they can enhance your visibility and credibility," Weyerhauser said.

Carefully creating a personal profile using key words that describe what kind of job is sought is the key to success because that's how prospective employers search for applicants.

"What people should do is exhibit thought leadership," Weyerhauser says.

He describes that as the ability to write intelligently and professionally about what they know and what they aspire to do.

A Warning About The Web

Although the Internet can work to a job seeker's advantage, it can also destroy the chances of finding a good job.

Because of the Internet's "digital footprint," Weyerhauser advises to carefully word what is written and avoid posting personal information not related to professional needs.

"A lot of people forget that what was posted many years ago can be found online today."

Since Twitter asks users, "What are you doing now?," keep personal feelings to yourself and don't tell the world you hate your boss or your job because it will come back to haunt you.

If you've been to a great party, don't tell the world how many beers you drank because that can make a bad impression.

A Permanent Record

"I once sent a tweet (what the short message on Twitter is called) about the kind of ice cream I was eating at a restaurant in Los Angeles. This was when Twitter just started. Several years later, someone sent me an e-mail asking if the ice cream was any good," Weyerhauser recounts in discussing how messages are kept in archives that "never seem to go away."

"Instead of saying something important," he says, "it's easy to give the appearance that you have nothing to say," or say the wrong thing.

The Smoking Gun

Networking sites may not guarantee a job seeker will find employment. But, they can be instrumental in not receiving a job offer.

What is posted online stays online and, if information is too personal or presents an unflattering picture and a prospective employer finds it, that information can be used to disqualify a person from consideration.

Weyerhauser's advice: Think before you post. Think about what you post.