By Shawn McGowan, JobsInME.com
There's something new on Facebook. Maybe you've seen it? Words and phrases littering people's posts now with "#" in front of them (#Oscars #Israel #AmericanIdol #Obama #iPhone #Android) are becoming more prevalent since Facebook launched hashtags earlier this year.
I'm sure you've probably heard people mention hashtags, but if you're not acquainted with Twitter - where they've been in use for years - you might not be familiar with what exactly they are and how they work.
What Are Hashtags?
Hashtags are a way of making it easier to join into public conversations about events, topics or just about anything. By including unique words and phrases preceded by the # symbol, Facebook users can now monitor and contribute to large scale conversations about trending topics as they happen with the use of these searchable indicators. These can range from sports events like #SuperBowl, to television shows like #BigBrother, to more news stories, politics, or just about any topic or trend.
How Can I Use Facebook Hashtags in My Job Search?
Given this new tool, let's talk about using it for the application of networking to find a new job.
Engage in real-time conversations centering around events like industry conferences, career expos and job fairs. This is a fantastic way to network and discuss events when unable to attend or prompt interactions with experts while in attendance. Many events will include official hashtags on their promotional materials and website: #SMBME #MEHRC2013 #SMSS13 #VTExpo
Find the latest career news, tips and advice from sources that might not already be on your radar since anyone can post tagged content to the public feed: #JobAdvice #Career #Interview #Resume
Discover local news by doing a few searches and finding a busy state or city/town based hashtag to follow along with. You might be amazed what interesting events, businesses, people and networking opportunities you'll find in your area using this handy tool: #BTV #Maine #Rhody #NH #PortlandMaine
Promote yourself as a job seeker, freelancer, or contractor by discussing topics related to your field of expertise or sharing your career qualifications and achievements. To get the most exposure, you will want to choose "Public" at the bottom right of the status box next to the "Post" button when posting promotional updates. Otherwise, only your friends (or other specified audience) will see them: #OnlineMarketing #JobHunt #HireMe #CNCMachinist
Search for job openings. Companies with Facebook pages often post updates about current openings they are looking to fill. In the search bar, search for different industry buzzwords and phrases (usually ending in "jobs"), see what comes up and check on them periodically: #NowHiring #NursingJobs #ITJobs #SQLJobs #SkiJobs
Try saving your favorite channels and check them as needed. Since hashtags on Facebook all have their own designated URL, you can bookmark useful feeds in your browser or on Delicious to refer to them later, at least until Facebook includes a hashtag feed reader in its tool suite for an easier way to keep current.
Don't just settle on the first streams you find, continually search for new tags in your spheres of interest and expertise as you'll find that new ones pop up all the time. Follow new hashtags you see on posts alongside your usual suspects and see what they have to offer.
If you're promoting yourself or your business, before you start throwing hashtags around all willy-nilly, be smart and take a good look at your profile or page first to make sure what new visitors see will make the best possible impression. #GoodLuck
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As a Social Media Marketing Coordinator, Shawn McGowan's passion for brand transparency and over 10 years of sales/customer service experience make him aptly suited for the job. A native of East Millinocket, Maine, Shawn grew up at the foot of Mount Katahdin and graduated from the University of Maine Presque Isle with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). When not writing, editing or immersing himself in the world of social media, he can be found enjoying the outdoors, art, music, tech, humor, Portland's amazing food scene, and all things nerdy. You can reach Shawn at smcgowan (at) JobsInME.com and Twitter.com/shonymac.