Thomasina Johnson, Editorial Editor

Do you feel overwhelmed and sometimes hopeless when it comes to searching for a job in today’s rotten economy? Take a deep breath and relax because thanks to groundbreaking networking websites, your resume can work harder, get your name out better, get you a job faster and keep your running in the job market going stronger.

According to a Mashable Business article, there are many new job search and networking sites that deserve attention. The most successful and powerful is LinkedIn, with over 35 million users, according to the article. Because LinkedIn has so many users and recruiters, this may be the best choice for an online networking newbie. When using LinkedIn, an important thing to remember is to optimize your profile and become active in the LinkedIn community. The more job-applicable information put on your profile, the more groups you participate in and the more often you search the site, the more chances you have of becoming “linked” to a prospective employer. To make your name stand out and to be more easily reachable, use a URL that includes your full name, the article suggested.

Another handy networking site is Plaxo. Plaxo’s strength lies in its ability to use a variety of media in its job searching. According to its website, Plaxo works with Twitter, Facebook and many other social networking sites to create a customized, interactive address book to track your contact information. According to the website, Plaxo recently became a subsidiary of Comcast Interactive Media and has big plans to integrate a “unified social media experience across the Web and TV.” On one hand, Plaxo may seem a bit stalker-ish and full of gadgets, but on the other hand, when prospective contacts build up, what better place to store them than in a safe, convenient location?

Twitter and Facebook are also handy networking options because both communities are so large. However, there are risks to using both sites for job searching. Because Twitter and Facebook are often intimately intertwined with the user’s personal life, prospective employers can easily obtain information about them that may not work in their favor to get the job. Paranoia can set in when users realize those pictures of the parties or the posts may or may not be used against them. Having a professional-looking profile or Twitter account is important, but why must it be so painful? Unless you’re willing to edit your profile tweets, I recommend using one or more of the many other networking options available.

Like any job interview or fair, career-networking websites may help users find a great job or may leave them feeling like there’s nothing out there for them. Although many of these sites use advanced technology to link users with prospective employers, the most important job-finding tip is also the most basic: a well-written, competitive resume. With a great resume in hand, networking sites and career fairs will be a piece of cake. When faced with the tough job economy, new grads must use these new networking tools not give up the search.

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