Can Google+ Help Your Job Search?
You may or may not have heard about Google+. It's the search giant's answer to Facebook, and it's hoping to take over the social networking world. It's very "insidery" right now -- since it's only in Beta. To join, you have to get an invite from someone who's already on. The site's creators are obviously hoping Google+ will do to Facebook what Facebook did to MySpace.
That's all very well and good for rabid social networkers, but if you're a job seeker and that golden Google ticket pops up in your email box, sent by one of your friends, family members or connections, will it actually help you get a job? Yes and no, according to a little exploring on the site.
Since it's an elite group, it might help you in a job interview to mention that you're on Google+. If the person interviewing you is not a member, there would be a certain amount of prestige involved in sending them an invite.
Google+, unlike other social media sites, allows you to control which parts of your profile each of your connections sees. "Through the use of 'Circles,' Google+ allows you to choose who sees each of your posts, photos and videos," explains Tony Lee, publisher, CareerCast.com.
You can also add potential employers and professional contacts to your circles without needing them to 'friend' you back," and you can specify which specific circle you'd like them to be part of, like "professional contacts" or "acquaintances." You can even put Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in one of your circles. They say that he's the most circled person on Google+.
There's a "Sparks" feature that is basically a feed of current news stories related your own interests -- you get to choose. You could use this to research news about the companies you hope to work for, as well as get hot information about what's happening in your industry.
Since you can't just sign up, like you can on Facebook or LinkedIn, you have to either wait for an invite, or solicit your friends (who may or may not already be on) to invite you. That doesn't exactly position you as one of the elite couple million who were invited to sign up first.
Because it's so new and exclusive, you might not be able to find all the people you want to connect with on there. Connections are definitely limited at this point.
It's time consuming -- it will take you several hours to begin in a way that will result in big circles and lots of attention. If you're active on Facebook, do you really have time for yet another social networking tool?
Google+ is still developing its company-specific pages, so you'll have to go elsewhere for truly in depth research, and your own personal news feed, again, will take you some time to set up.
In the Middle
There's a feature called "Hangouts," which is Google+'s version of group video chat, and although creators say it can be potentially useful for long-distance interviews and can allow you to do a video interview with a recruiter or hiring manager from the comfort of your own home, it's not being used much in that capacity; so, for now, it's neither a pro nor a con.
So while Google+ may not be essential for job seekers (just yet), it is another, upscale tool, and you can never have too many tools.
"The bottom line is that no matter what social media network you are using, make sure you maintain control of your brand across the Internet," says Lee. "Take some time to surf the web and see what a potential employer might find about you. Not taking control of your brand could cost you in a big way."
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