When Baby Boomers began their careers apples and blackberries were only thought of as fruit and twitter was the sound of a bird. Now technology and social media are critical success factors in managing a career. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Google+ and YouTube all have a role in job searching and staying employed in the 21st century. Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Millennial Branding, is quoted in CIO Magazine observing, “Since Boomers are out of work longer and understand the fundamentals of networking, they are going to LinkedIn in order to find new opportunities.” A survey sponsored by Millennial Branding and Beyond.com showed that Boomers use the Internet and social networks professionally more than younger generations.

LinkedIn is the most popular professional networking tool with over 100 million users in the United States. Local LinkedIn and Technology Consultant, Dave Meeker, explains that having a photo on your profile, including recommendations from former co-workers and insuring your profile answers the employer’s question, what can you do for me?will help users realize the value of LinkedIn. For professionals concerned with receiving a plethora of emails and notifications, LinkedIn allows members to manage the volume by adjusting settings under ‘Privacy and Settings’.

Recruiters are increasingly using Skype for video interviews prior to flying candidates out of town for in-person meetings. It is important to create a well-lit, uncluttered quiet environment and suitable background for a video interview along with dressing professionally. Job seekers should also insure they have a strong wireless connection before conducting a video interview to avoid audio and video glitches. Participating in a video interview also shows a potential employer your comfort level with technology and communication skills.

Boomers increasingly showcase their expertise with blogs, on YouTube, through webinars and with long-form posts on LinkedIn. Professionally, there are pitfalls and risks in the misuse of social media. Many employees assume that what they post or share on their personal time does not impact their careers and is not the business of their employers. That assumption is a mistake. Inappropriate use of social media, sharing company secrets online and violating confidentiality agreements and bullying others can result in disciplinary action at work as well as legal action. It is best to adhere to your employer’s social media policies and assume that whatever you post is visible to the public and is available to repost no matter what your privacy setting. Think of social media interaction as a post card that is permanently accessible to the universe. Human Resources departments perform online searches on candidates’ names to obtain additional information about them. Be careful posting pictures you would not want a potential employer to see or using names or terms online that could prevent you from being hired.

Being present on social media platforms is not enough, positioning yourself as a credible, influential professional or developing thought leader status is the key to advancing a career. Social media is a tool like a resume or business card; it does not take the place of connecting with people in person.

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