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In an age of online job searches, the Instant Messenger or IM could work as an effective tool in helping you with your job search. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of using IM is that it could help you cut down on the time spent on waiting for responses.

When you interact with someone over the IM, you can immediately exchange vital information such as positions available, skills and qualifications needed, and whether you will be able to take on the responsibilities of the role or not. It provides a window to the job requirements within fairly informal settings. An IM chat also allows some amount of confidence to both – the job seeker and the recruiter. For the job seeker, there is the comfort of an informal interaction; for the recruiter, there is a chance of getting to know the candidate better and to discover whether or not he will fit any of the jobs available at that time.

So how can we effectively utilize the IM for a job search?

Maintain Etiquettes while Chatting
This is probably the basis for a successful IM chat. Though an informal medium by itself, try and maintain professionalism in talking. Do not use slang words or shortcuts that appear frivolous or rude. Make sure you address the other person appropriately and try to minimize the use of features such as animated emoticons or those that are accompanied by loud sounds or laughter. Remember, the person you are talking to might be working, surrounded by other colleagues as well.

Create a Separate IM Account
Once you decide to include IM in your job search, creating a new account can help you control your image and the way you would like prospective employers to know you. Build your online image to present a professional; choose your account name accordingly. Try to steer clear of names that may project a frivolous persona. While job hunting, retaining your own name, like ‘Sheila.james’ as the profile name conveys a professional outlook than, say, something like ‘picky.plant’.

Monitor your Avatars
Most messengers allow you to create an online avatar that is a reflection of your taste in clothes, colors, and accessories. Which is why, when choosing an avatar for your new profile, ensure that you do not come across as a frivolous individual who is only looking at having a nice time. Keep the Hawaiian outfit for the identity you use for catching up with friends. You don’t have to pose in a double-breasted suit of course, but keeping your look casually formal helps. This conveys a sense of responsibility together with an attitude that is easy-going and open.

Use References Responsibly
If you are using the IM, be sure to behave in a responsible manner when asking for information or sharing news. You definitely don’t want to antagonize a prospective employer or create the image of a person who is not given to taking work seriously. Remember, as a job seeker, you will be under observation most of the time and any slip-up could be understood as irresponsible behavior.

As with other forms of Job search, even on the IM you need to make sure of certain factors: is the job you are pursuing, in keeping with your career goals? You may be interacting with someone from behind the comparative safety of a computer screen. Remain focused on your career needs and the kind of jobs you are looking for, and who know you may find your next job through the IM!

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