Interview: Donna Sweidan, Career Coach, Explains How To Network

Donna Sweidan, career coach and founder of, is one of the speakers at Mediabistro’s upcoming Job Search Boot Camp (the early bird registration for which closes today).

We spoke with Sweidan recently about the new way to network.

MJD: What do you do?
DS: DS: I take people from soul-search to social media. As a trained therapist and a career counselor, I strongly believe that people need to understand who they are and what they have to offer before they can market themselves. If they don’t do that initial work and create that foundation it’s really hard to sell themselves. And, of course, social media has changed everything. It’s revolutionized the way we live, but also changed job search and career management.

My talk is on the resume, and I am going to talk about how the resume has changed. Today, your Google results are your resume.

What mistakes do people make on social media?
DS: Number one, they’re just not using it enough. In the recent Mediabistro Job Search Bootcamp, I saw many people who are not leveraging social networks to create and broaden their network. Number two, all of these websites have a personal marketing component. Linkedin is a network, but its also your resume. Twitter is a depiction of who you are, but you can also create a snapshot of who you are in the profile part of Twitter [in the profile box] and have a link to your Linkedin resume.

And then there is Facebook. People don’t realize that this first line of connections (your family and friends) are so important to your job search. An app called Branchout, is essentially a Linkedin for Facebook. It allows you to see where everybody in your Facebook community works, and lots of other good stuff. It also serves as your Facebook resume. As you can see, all these social networking sites are not just website, but they are multipurpose tools that you can use with great precision to advance your job search.

This sounds like it would take a lot of time to manage all these social media accounts.
If somebody is unemployed, the job search should take 40 hours a week. That is a lot of time and if they use social media strategically, then it is the most effective and efficient use of one’s time and of the internet. I think that people need to be more focused on networking, spending an hour or two a day or a week or whatever the case-The have to do with what fits into their schedule. At minimum, they should start off with 1/2 hour, engaging with people, being active in groups. I think a lot of people believe they’re networking enough but they really aren’t. They have to be reaching out to people they don’t know on a daily basis, and be more persistent in their networking efforts. It would help jobseekers if they came up with a plan, were more strategic and more consistent in their behavior. Reaching out once a week just is not enough. That’s not going to get them the results they need.

How much personality is appropriate on social networks?
I think it really depends on the person and the industry. It is a very individual thing. Having said that, the more you can stand out today, the better. The more people recognize you on the social networks, know what you do, and trust you, the more likely it will be that your name will come up when an opportunity arises. Obviously you don’t want to be too extreme or too risque, but I think you want to be yourself, and your want to be very clear and specific about what you do. The more articulate you are about what you can offer, the easier it will be for people tot think about you when an opportunity arises. It’s so important to present yourself as uniquely as you can. Obviously if it’s not your personality to do fancy things, then don’t, but don’t be bland.