Using social media to advance one's career is a no-brainer — to people who use social media. That leaves out workers and would-be workers who aren't big online users. For people who don't do much beyond email or Internet browsing, here's a primer on social media that employers use to find or evaluate job candidates.
LinkedIn.com. It's the top site for professional profiles. If you're in or considering a job change, you need a profile. It's free. Spend time on the site to see how the connections work. Join appropriate groups. Think of your profile as an enhanced resume that's "out there" all the time.
Facebook.com. Employers use the dominant social media site to post jobs and check out people. It's not at the same professional level as LinkedIn and can be dicey for job applicants because of personal postings. So police your Facebook presence carefully. You can make your page a display space for your skills and interests.
Pinterest.com. This is a gold mine site for people to promote their creativity and get known by people who share the same interests. Spend some time on it to figure out how you might "brand" yourself.
Twitter.com. A blessing and a curse. You can sign up to get feeds about job openings and news. You also can post what's on your mind. That can potentially expand your reputation and contacts — or it can hurt you. Learn about hashtags to get your tweets read by others interested in the same topic.
Your own blog or Web page. You can make your own Internet site with a URL that can be discovered when someone enters your name into a search engine like Google. You can display your writing, your photography, your products, whatever. You have content control.
Others: Depending on what you do (or want to do) you could post on YouTube, Foursquare, or on platforms used by contract workers such as Elance.com or Freelance.com.
But remember: Old-fashioned personal contact is still the best way to land a job. You have to shake hands and talk directly to people instead of relying on cyber connections.