If you're unfamiliar with Google+, you're missing out on instant access to a hotbed of industry knowledge—top experts in your industry are posting valuable articles, videos, and tips on the social networking service right now.
There are two significant benefits of using Google+: First, social media in general is essential today to immerse yourself in industry knowledge and stay ahead of the curve on the latest trends in your field. Google+ is a more organized, comprehensive tool than Twitter, and its more personalized than LinkedIn with more engaging features. It's a great addition to your social media belt.
Second, when a potential employer Googles your name, your robust Google+ profile will show up. You can use it as a way to showcase your professional interests, personality, and industry savvy to stand out from the rest of the heard. Here's a quick job seeker's guide to using it:
1. Circle your relevant industries. Take a few minutes to "circle," or select, the industries in which you're most interested. This unofficial Google+ recommended users list is a go-to source for finding active, fascinating people most relevant to you.
Remember to be a little choosey and stay organized. Don't fill your home stream with everything and everyone. Adding too much means having to sift through Paris Hilton news and missing, say, Altimeter Group's Principal Analyst Brian Solis' insightful news on business and marketing. You could, of course, filter your feed by Circles, but why add distractions?
Once you choose relevant topics, your Circles will fill with experts and relevant people who post related news, articles, and trends to help you stay abreast. It's also a great way to network. Use the "@" sign to tag specific followers and ask them questions. Google+ is more engaging than you might think.
2. Utilize Google "Hangouts." Google Hangout is a video chatting feature that lets you video conference with up to nine people. This is particularly great if you want to make a real, strong connection with a former colleague, professional acquaintance, or anyone with which you'd feel comfortable discussing job opportunities. It can be more convenient and much more personal than a LinkedIn invite.
And you can get pretty creative with Google+ Hangouts—it's a great tool for self-starters to collaborate with others on independent side projects, which can boost your resume and impress employers.
Some employers have incorporated it into their recruitment process. For instance, ChefHangout.com, a culinary class, hired all of their chefs through Google Hangouts.
3. Tune into "Hangouts on Air." While Google+ Hangouts are limited to nine people, Google Hangouts on Air (HOA) is a video broadcast that an unlimited number of people can join. You can browse HOA events by typing "#hangoutsonair" in the search bar on top. And from here, you can browse various public HOAs. To find ones most relevant to you, search your industry.
There may be some less-than-legitimate HOA hosts out there, but if you look at the host's profile to confirm strong activity and legitimacy, you can tune into heaps of interesting video conversations relevant to you.
Ritika Trikha is a writer for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. Check out CareerBliss for millions of job listings, company reviews, salary information, and a free career happiness assessment.