When used appropriately, social media can help you find a job, help you find career advice, and help you connect with people who can assist you with growing your career.
Yes, social media must be used carefully, but by ignoring or avoiding it, you are handicapping yourself in several ways:
Social media is as much of a "fad" as the Internet is. Humans are social beings, and social media enables us to reach out to more people and to share things with people we already know. It's not going away any time soon, so now is a good time to jump onboard. The social media train is picking up speed and waiting leaves you vulnerable.
And, social media can be great fun! Just be careful - everyone is watching and listening to what you post.
If you are job hunting, you won't find a job immediately just by joining LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Invest the time and energy to build the public persona (or personal brand) that will support your job search. This section of Job-Hunt has many articles about using these important social media platforms for job hunting. Read them, and put them to work for you.
No one (celebrities excluded) automatically finds a job, a date, a mate, or millions of dollars just by joining social media. But all of those, except the millions of dollars (mostly), do happen often enough, to a sufficient number of people, to make the investment of time cost effective for most people.
Social media can be a very effective tool for your job search, used and used properly. Ignore it at your own peril - you are more vulnerable in your job search if you avoid social media. Certainly you can damage your career with inappropriate use, no question. So, put on your grown-up mindset, pay attention to the rules of the (social media) road, and you'll be fine.
Read Kashmir Hill's excellent article, "What Prospective Employers Hope to See in Your Facebook Account" on Forbes.com.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.