Social Media and job search: Who you know still matters, connecting with them is what’s different

I attended a free workshop on using social media as a job search tool yesterday.

There were only two of us who attended the class, and one of us was extremely late – yeah, that would have been *ahem* ~ me! Although I’d gotten to the office early, I got too focused on a different work search related task and completely forgot why I was in the building in the first place. I was 50 minutes late, despite the fact I’d arrived an hour ahead of class time.

Pro-tip: Use the timer/reminder/calendar alert functions on your phone to give yourself transition time and to stay on schedule.

Since it was a workshop I had registered for and committed myself to, instead of just writing it off, I spoke to a staff person and explained what had happened. A supervisor was consulted and they got the instructor’s permission to let me come in late. Typically, a latecomer is marked as a “no-show” and has to register for a repeat workshop, two weeks to a month later. I got lucky!

Insight ~ When you mess up and think you’ve lost your chance, don’t just give up and jump on the internal self-abuse train. Accept that it happened and take a post-active step to own the problem, alert those who were affected, and ask for a second chance. Even if you get denied the chance in that moment, you’ve given yourself a learning opportunity and shown positive, constructive character traits to potential members of your network.

The youngest person in the room was the instructor. I was in the middle. The other gal in the room had a few additional years of experience, than I have. However, I felt much more personal affinity and cohort connection with her, than with our youthful instructor. I don’t mean to be ageist, but it can be difficult (on many levels and for many reasons) to take instruction from someone young enough to be your child or grandchild. On the other hand, who better to learn from about effectively utilizing the newest technology and tools for connecting with potential employers in today’s job market?

I could tell my cohort was having some difficulties connecting with what the instructor was presenting.

When it comes to new tools and technology, those of us who learned to find employment by walking in the door, filling out a paper application, providing a paper resume, and making a face to face connection can find the concept of finding jobs online very bewildering and impersonal. We came up in the age before computers and the internet. For us, socializing online can be a foreign and profoundly disturbing concept. It’s often difficult to see how useful and powerful these tools are for creating and building meaningful relationships with anyone “real.”

We were taught about things like the hidden job market and learned that finding jobs is about who you know more than it is what you know and what you can do. As far as many of us are concerned, we have a hard time understanding how to leverage our experience and knowledge by creating and building online relationships to identify and connect to the hidden job market.

The reality is that the same principles we learned to use in face to face job search still apply. Our former methods are not as effective as they once were. So, we have to learn new ways of doing the same things. In order for us to learn to do that, we need the people who are trying to teach us new ways, to understand where and how to make these new methods connect and relate to the previous ones.

If you are an older person trying to navigate the new world of technology and social media based job search, you can help yourself by asking how what you learned before is similar and different than what you’re learning now. If you are a younger, social media and technology savvy person trying to help us older folks learn new ways, slow down and help us understand how what you’re teaching really is just a new method of doing what we already know.