Getting a job through Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook sounds like a great idea. Job searching from the comfort of your own home instead of pounding the streets! In reality, it’s not as simple as it seems and there are a few things to think about if you’re going to make social networking sites part of your job search. Here are five tips for getting a new job through social networking.

1) Clean up your online reputation

Don’t forget that people can see all our status updates, photos, videos and groups unless our profiles are locked. If you contact potential employers through your social networking page, you’re more or less inviting them to have a look at it. Even if you contacted them in another way, if you have an unusual full name all they have to do is Google you and the first results that come up will be for your social network pages (unless you’re on Wikipedia, because that always comes up first).

So if you want to make a good impression, it’s time to remove the inappropriate Facebook pictures and to stop using Twitter to moan about your current employer.

Even if you don’t want a new job right at this moment, it’s worth changing your online habits anyway if you a) will potentially be job hunting in the future and b) your current employer wouldn’t be impressed if they checked out your Facebook right now. That said, it’s just as possible to make a positive impression online as it is to leave a negative one. If you’re looking for a new job in tourism because you’re interested in travel & culture, be sure to actually list these as your interests so potential employers can see why you’d be suited to the industry.

2) Know where to look

As open and accessible as social networking sites are, potential employers aren’t going to come running just because we tweet, “I be lookin 4 a job in tourism, pls contact me if u can help”. We have to find them, because it’s unlikely that they’ll find us. Twitter has various types of applications you can use to seek out potential employers and useful contacts.

Directories such as Twitscoop to track trends and events related to your desired job. On both Facebook and LinkedIn you can join groups discussing your career interests, with the latter also having a Q&A function where you ask and answer the questions that will draw you into a network of potentially useful contacts.

3) Communicate with the relevant players

Once you’ve found contacts that could be beneficial, don’t just ask them if they know of any jobs going and then leave it at that. It’s important to build up an online relationship with the relevant players so that even if they don’t know of anything for you straight away, they’ll remember you if something comes up further down the line.

By all means speak with them about your job search, your skills and your industry of choice; just be sure not to make it all about you. It’s corny but it’s true-what makes a relationship, both offline and online, is the give and take element. Reply to your contacts’ tweets when they ask for help and contribute to the discussions they start in LinkedIn and Facebook groups. Not only does it show that you’re willing to give, but it also showcases your expert knowledge of their particular industry or field.

4) Be willing to learn

Although it is important to show that you have both interest in and knowledge of your chosen industry, it’s also important to demonstrate your willingness to learn and to build up your skills. Ask industry players for advice about your job search, use group discussions to clarify points you’re not sure about, and listen in on others’ conversations.

Use social networking to build up your experience and skills set offline. Even if none of your online friends know of any paid jobs going, press them for information on volunteering or work experience opportunities. If you’ve actually set out to get some voluntary work experience before seeking gainful employment, connect with the voluntary sector experts that can sort you out with opportunities suited to your desired career path.

5) Don’t limit yourself

So yes, social networking is useful, but don’t rely on it as your only method of networking and job hunting. Integrate it with both offline and other online strategies such as going to industry events, using your existing contacts and looking at employer organisations’ websites.

It takes some thought and effort to successfully incorporate social networking into your job search -but it can be a lot of fun as well! Let us know if you have any stories about using a social network to land a job.

Related: How Social Media Will Help Your Job Search.

Arthur Habrial

Arthur is Community Manager for Social Media London, London's biggest social media community and events - powered by Link Humans. He also runs the #smlondon Twitter feed - @SocialMediaLond.