The opportunities for using social media to find jobs are exploding. For career-oriented Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ users, the future isn’t here now. It was here five years ago. And today’s college graduates are more than willing to wrap themselves up in its glorious possibilities.

But before you friend everyone in sight, take a few steps to optimize your social media profiles.

“The best strategy to get a job on social networks is to have already built up your follower base before you’re looking for a job,” says Dan Schawbel, international bestselling author of “Me 2.0” and managing partner of Millennial Branding, LLC.

And be sure to jump on the Google+ bandwagon. While it doesn’t have the cachet of Facebook or Twitter yet, it’s attached to Google, which is never to be underestimated. At the very least, it’s another resource.

“Google+ is valuable to anyone trying to establish their career because it lets you control who sees your updates, and your content will eventually receive more visibility through Google search,” he says, adding that it allows you to organize people you want to network with into circles.

Know what’s happening in your industry by setting up a Google Reader account and subscribing to blogs and Google Alerts. When you participate in your social networks, you’ll have something to say.

“Get into the habit of learning before you engage,” he says.

Schawbel, also named one of Inc. Magazine’s “30 under 30” in 2010, has a few other tips for making the most out of your online presence:

— Don’t leave home (as in, your homepage) without adding these components to your profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+: a positioning statement that includes expertise and primary market, and a bio with achievements, years of experience, job history and skills (NOT a list of your job duties). In addition, use the same photo of yourself on all social networking sites, including Twitter.

— Search engine optimize yourself. Schawbel says you carefully should use industry keywords and buzzwords specific to your areas of expertise multiple times in your profiles, which will bring your profiles closer to the top of Google search results.

— Keep up with your follower base. It’s vital to be a frequent visitor to social networking sites, Schawbel says, and “be involved in new conversations … and form new relationships that can help you get a job.”

— Don’t stay online the whole time.

“The online world acts as a filter so you can meet the right people offline to form stronger relationships,” Schawbel says. Once your profiles are complete, figure out which companies you’d most like to work for and spend time building relationships with those companies and individuals who work in the positions that interest you, he says.

Just like the real world, the social media world has etiquette rules.

“Don’t add someone on LinkedIn or Facebook without filling out the custom message explaining how you know them or why you want to connect,” says Schawbel. “When you’re given a LinkedIn recommendation by someone you trust in your network, return the favor.”

Schawbel says it’s important to share the spotlight with others.

“Don’t spend all your time promoting yourself and your work – make sure others get something out of the relationship. And don’t connect with recruiters on Facebook unless you know them,” he says.

Krista Canfield, senior PR manager at LinkedIn, suggests asking peers in your field if they have been contacted by recruiters about available positions.

“If that advertising account rep is happy as a clam in their current role, they still might be getting pinged by recruiters about open positions elsewhere,” she says. “You could let your peers know that if they get job opportunities passed their way that they can feel free to throw your name in the hat or have the recruiter contact you.”

Buy "Calling All Grads" Kindle eBook. Job tips for college gradsThis article was excerpted from the new eBook “Calling All Grads! Turn a Degree into a Job,” edited by careers writer and editor Marco Buscaglia and published by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Leave a commentLeave a comment on this article

Read more book excerpts from "Calling All Grads"View more book excerpts

"Calling All Grads" Kindle eBook with job tips for college gradsPurchase the eBook