From Residency to Reality

How to Use Social Media to Chart Your Career

Barbara Giamanco
CEO, Talent Builders

The explosion of social media into mainstream consciousness has seemingly come from nowhere. Though it may be new to you, the social media groundswell has been building for some time, and it’s fair to say that the buzz right now is deafening.

While there is a growing familiarity with tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube, here are 5 questions you may be asking about social media:

  1. How does this apply to my industry?
  2. How can it help my career search?
  3. Where do I start?
  4. What technology should I be using?
  5. How do I manage the information?

As with any new undertaking, questions like these (and more) are important to answer. For those of you who are newer to the world of social media, you may be wondering if this isn’t just for kids, small businesses or more mainstream type corporations. You might be wondering how or even if, social media applies to a professional industry like healthcare and medicine. Guess what? Social media definitely applies to you.

Social Media and the Medical Profession

In the recent wake of Swine Flu, social communities like Ozmosis provide real-time health alerts and updates to a growing number of physicians who are also having peer-to-peer discussions about the impact of the outbreaks across the country. According to Jason Bhan, MD and Co-Founder of Ozmosis, “social media is already having a noticeable impact in helping to quickly spread important and timely medical information to all parties during a time that is both difficult and confusing.”

As an avid user of Twitter, I couldn’t help but notice how many individuals and medical professionals were using Twitter to pass on relevant, timely and accurate information about the Swine Flu situation, which just a few short years ago wouldn’t have been possible. The ability to quickly communicate important, accurate and relevant healthcare information on such a broad scale was much tougher. And I have to believe that the open and immediate dialog between physicians and the public led to much less fear and uncertainty about the illness. Physicians using social media can stay abreast of top trends in medicine, converse with their peers, monitor developments in health crises and develop deeper relationships with patients as a trusted advisor.

Social Media is Your Career Partner

Recently, Physiciancareer.com notes two important trends in the medical profession today:

  1. 6-9% of physicians move every year and it is much more normal for a physician to have three or four jobs before settling into one for the rest of their career.
  2. Job Board Explosion has caused thousands of opportunities to be listed with little information or knowledge of that particular situation and caused the physician to spend enormous amounts of time researching and talking to recruiters finding out the real story.

These trends suggest that the effective use of social networking becomes critical to building the relationships that will lead to securing the right position for you. Given the challenges with limited or perhaps even inaccurate information found in job boards, your ability to talk to your peers and leverage a strong network base becomes a valuable resource for researching the “real story” quickly.

Social Networking Benefits for Your Career

With 66% of the more than 40 million LinkedIn users deemed “key decision maker”, 200+ million people on Facebook (31% over the age of 35), and millions more conversing over Twitter, you can’t ignore the opportunity. Using Twitter search you can find out what people may be saying about a potential employer you are evaluating. A strong LinkedIn network lets you leverage your connections to secure recommendations and referrals. Ozmosis, Social MD, Ask Dr. Wiki, Sermo and more are all social community sites for the medical professional to dialog with peers, expand their network, ask for help, and research information on current issues, job opportunities and more.

5 Ways to Build a Strong Network Using LinkedIn

1. Quality + Quantity = Access. LinkedIn is the defacto standard when it comes to an online professional networking tool. Recruiters routinely source applicants through LinkedIn, so by adding connections, you increase the likelihood that companies searching for physicians with your capabilities will find you.

2. Improve your connectability. Most new users neglect to take the time to include all the details of their professional history. By only including their current position, they severely limit their ability to connect with large numbers of people. Complete your profile like it’s an executive bio, so include past companies, education, affiliations, and activities. You can also include a link to your profile as part of an email signature.

3. Enhance your search engine results. In addition to your name, you can also promote your blog or website to search engines like Google and Yahoo! Your LinkedIn profile allows you to publicize websites. There are a few pre-selected categories like “My Website,” “My Company,” etc. If you select “Other” you can modify the name of the link. If you’re linking to your personal blog, include your name or descriptive terms in the link, and bam! instant search-engine optimization for your site. To make this work, be sure your public profile setting is set to “Full View.”

4. Perform company reference checks. Let’s say you want to get the real scoop on an organization you are considering for employment. Using LinkedIn’s company page, you can search the company you have in mind and then get access to all current and former employees who have a LinkedIn profile. You can independently reach out to them to ask about their experience with that organization. You can also check up on the company itself by finding the person who used to have the job that you’re interviewing for. By contacting people who used to hold the position, you can get the inside scoop on the job, manager and growth potential.

5. Gauge the health of a company. Perform an advanced search for company name and uncheck the “Current Companies Only” box. This will enable you to scrutinize the rate of turnover and whether key people are abandoning ship. Former employees usually give more candid opinions about a company’s prospects than someone who’s still on board.

Managing the Information Flow

I’m known for saying that it is up to “you” to manage technology, not the other way around. Dashboard tools are available to allow you to easily manage email, networking profiles and all of your favorite sites without spending time surfing individual sites. Don’t let the “fear” of too much information stop you from getting on board.

Remember that social media and the world of social networking are here to stay. It has as much relevance for your world as a physician as it does for Corporate America. See it as a threat or an opportunity. It’s your choice!

Talent Builders CEO Barb Giamanco is a well known keynote speaker, author and accredited coach with over 25 years of business experience. You can visit her site at www.talentbuildersinc.com for more information or call 404-459-4030.

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