It’s getting tougher to snag an interview for a job, let alone knowing what to say and not say on the big day. Alyson Weiss, the young adult outreach coordinator and social media specialist at Career Moves, a program of Jewish Vocational Services, has your back. Beginning April 3 she is leading a four-week course for young professionals on career counseling, job searching and using social media in the job hunt.

created at: 2013-03-18Tell me a little bit about LEAP. Who is it geared toward? What sorts of things are you going to be focusing on?

LEAP (Linking Employment and Passion) is a four-week job search strategies group that is based on what I wish I had known when I did my first job search out of college last year. I made a lot of mistakes—like applying to jobs without networking my way into the company first, or using the wrong keywords on my cover letters and resumes—that caused my applications to get lost in the black hole of digital HR. It was a really frustrating process, and I felt alone in it even though all of my friends were going through the same thing. Because of this, LEAP will have a peer support-group aspect while still having the guidance of a professionally run class. It is geared toward college seniors, recent grads and young professionals looking to make that big transition, whether it’s transitioning from school to the workforce or changing jobs for the first time.

The class will have four modules: networking, identifying transferable skills, conducting a strategic job search, and sealing the deal with a stellar application. The hope is that graduates of this program will have the tools they need to find fulfilling employment, and last year’s testimonials indicate that this is true.

Assess the job market right now for us. Is it getting any easier for job seekers, or is it still tough going?

I think it’s getting easier for some job seekers. The economy is in recovery, but it will take a long time for everyone to be positively affected. New grads were hit particularly hard by the recession, and this group still hasn’t recovered—according to The Atlantic, 53 percent of new graduates were un- or under-employed in 2012. This means that recent grads and young professionals need to go beyond the traditional resume and cover letter application and use some out-of-the-box application and networking techniques. Social media is a great tool for some of these non-traditional application methods.

How can social media help job seekers? And, maybe more important, what should job seekers not be doing on social media?

There are so many horror stories out there about job seekers who have lost opportunities through social media. I think they scare people away from proactively using these invaluable channels, so I don’t want to add to this too much. I would say exercise common-sense precaution: Do not make offensive comments on social media because these channels are public and it is fair for employers to judge you based on the content you choose to produce/share online.

However, don’t underestimate the good that can come from strategic use of social media either! LinkedIn is a wonderful tool for professional networking and for getting informational interviews. Blogging is a wonderful way to demonstrate skills/knowledge/expertise/likeability that could never come across in a resume (although you can link your resume to your blog). And when these two (and other social media channels like Twitter) come together, job application magic can happen! This is one of my favorite examples of job application magic. (Tufts alum represent!)

Tell me your job-seeking nightmare: was there a job interview that you flubbed or a cover letter you wish you could rewrite?

Great question! My worst job-seeking nightmare (there are a few to choose from) is one I actually recovered from: I copied and pasted a paragraph from an old cover letter and forgot to change the company name. It was mortifying and unfairly made it look like I had copied and pasted the whole letter instead of that one paragraph. I caught my mistake right after I sent it, so I quickly sent a corrected copy, and fate must have been on my side because I got the interview!created at: 2012-11-12

Four Questions is a weekly interview column featuring interesting people connected with the Greater Boston Jewish community. Find past columns here. Have an idea of someone we should interview? Email Molly!

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