Q: There are a lot of social networking sites out there. Which one should job seekers try first? Why?

A: Without a doubt, the best site to utilize when seeking employment is LinkedIn. The site is geared towards connecting employers and potential employees. It's the ideal place to expand your network and ask questions. You can also develop your own professional profile and include links to your online work.

Q: What are the best ways to use social networking for professional development?

A: We advise those seeking professional development to be mindful of how they are using social networking sites by focusing on three main points. First, expand your network by reaching out to those that could potentially aid the development of your career. Second, utilize these sites as a learning tool. You can obtain a great deal of information on social networking sites from well established professionals as well as from your peers. Use this to further communication between yourself and the wide range of individuals. Lastly, use these sites as a platform to showcase your talents and achievements.

Q: What are the downsides to using social media?

A: Social media sites can be distracting and overusing them without a goal in mind can lead to a lot of time wasting. For this reason it is important to manage the time you spend on these sites effectively. Furthermore, inappropriate conduct on these sites has, in some cases, led to job termination and personal difficulty. Be mindful of what information you chose to share on these sites. Be sure that it does not interfere with your professional and personal life.

Q: Privacy and identity theft are big issues. Are there ways to limit such concerns while using social media?

A: It is imperative that you avoid sharing sensitive information online. Make sure that your privacy settings are firmly in place and refrain from engaging in conduct that may be deemed inappropriate. Unfortunately, the internet can be a source of distress once information has fallen into the wrong hands. Be mindful of your safety and that of others when using social networking sites.

Q: Is it a bad idea for an encore job seeker to post a photo if he or she is concerned about age discrimination?

A: It is up to you whether or not you want to include a photo of yourself. It is important that you do not do anything you are uncomfortable with. However, photos allow potential employers to put a face to a name and distinguish job candidates from one another. If you do include a photo, be sure that it is professional and of good quality.

Q: Does a job seeker need to use all of the popular social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) or just focus on one? If just one, which one?

A: It is important not to overwhelm yourself by trying to utilize all of the sites at once. Start with one and try to learn the mechanics of that particular site before moving on to the next one. If you are unsure which site to begin with, try LinkedIn. The site allows you to upload your own resume into their system so the process of disclosing your information is quick and easy. From there you can begin reaching out to others in your industry.