By ELIZABETH GARONE
Q: How important is it for educated, laid-off professionals over the age of 50 to join networking sites? I am very Web and computer savvy, but do not really care to get involved with Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
A: You would be doing yourself a disservice not to have a profile on a networking site in the current job market, career experts say. It's becoming increasingly common for recruiters to use these as their first point of contact with potential employees. Without one, you could be in danger of being overlooked.
"First, it shows you're relevant," says Diane Darling, founder and chief executive officer of Effective Networking Inc. in Boston. "And, two, it gives you a very easy Web link that anybody can go to get your data points, from a resume to awards you might have received or anything along those lines."
It would be a mistake to think that networking sites are only for "a younger crowd," adds Jason Alba, author of "I'm on LinkedIn – Now What???" "There are a lot of jobs getting filled from these social networks, and I'd hate to think they are all going to younger professionals simply because you aren't there," he says.
Some networking sites are even exclusive to high-level professionals, such as ExecuNet (http://www.execunet.com/) and The Financial Executives Network group (http://www.thefeng.org/).
When 50-year-old Chuck Hester started a job search in 2006, he let 50 or so of his LinkedIn connections in the Raleigh, N.C., area know he was open to new opportunities in marketing or public relations. One of them -- someone he'd never met -- was Ryan Allis, CEO of iContact Corp., an email-marketing company. Mr. Allis responded with an offer to get together in person and Mr. Hester accepted. During the meeting, the executive invited Mr. Hester to interview for a newly created position as director of public relations at his firm. Mr. Hester agreed and was subsequently hired. "I truly believe I got my job through LinkedIn," he says. "In today's world, it is through social-media sites you are going to get the next position."
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