Everyone says that networking is the best way to get a job. I agree. And social media is a critical part of networking in today’s job market.

The Big Three of social media for job search are LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.  These are the places you’ll find job listings, advice on how to do a successful job search, and connections to companies.

Of course you will use Google or Yahoo! or Bing or Ask.com – these search engines and answer places are where you’ll find the job boards most relevant to your field and geographic location.  They also are places you’ll go to find the websites of companies in your field, industry and location, where you’ll do research on the companies and the field, and where you’ll find the top-ranked job search advice sites.

1. LinkedIn. Your profile is critically important to your search.

Recruiters use LinkedIn so much these days. LinkedIn actively markets its search capacity to recruiters inside and external to companies.  Using specific criteria and key words, a recruiter can narrow the pool of potential candidates from thousands to 20 or 30 people who most closely meet the employer’s needs.

If you know what you want to do, makes sure your profile reflects this. Use key words that match:

  • Your core skills and abilities
  • The impact you’ve had
  • Your special expertise including language skills or global experience
  • Relevant certifications (LinkedIn just added that area to profiles)
  • Training
  • Charitable work
  • Basically anything that makes you stand out.

To know what key words are in vogue, read as many job descriptions as you can for jobs you might like, and pick out the phrases and words from the “Responsibilities” and “Qualifications” sections. Include those words and phrases in your profile.

REALLY IMPORTANT:  make sure your LinkedIn profile matches your resume in every respect. ANY misalignment can be read as lack of integrity by a recruiter or employer.

Recommendations are essential for a complete LinkedIn profile. There is some consensus that these are valuable “soft references” even though it’s clear that you’ll only put up positive ones. The reality is that if enough people say enough of the same kind of things about you, it’s likely to be accurate. The general idea is “if it walks, talks and acts like a duck…chances are it’s a duck.”

You also need a professional-looking photo, head and maybe some shoulders.

2. Twitter. Twitter is definitely useful for job seekers and people navigating the world or work and careers, as a source of great current career and job search advice. I suggest as a rule to create an account with your own name; it’s digital real estate and as such you should claim it.

Here’s a video from the great company Mashable.com regarding how to use Twitter’s advanced search function to look for jobs on Twitter.

[iframe width=”100%” height=”480″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/B0sdTdcM2Ws” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]

Follow people who provide content you find useful. They may or may not follow you back; it doesn’t matter.  There are also some job posting services connected with Twitter including TweetMyJobs. you can find job postings by searching the hash tag #jobs, #tweetmyjobs and #jobangels.

If you post on Twitter, make sure you are tweeting professional-sounding messages. This is an amazingly public forum and you need to present yourself as someone who provides value, learns the “rules of the road” and abides by them.

3. YouTube. This is a great place for “how to” videos on every aspect of job search, from deciding what you want to do to writing a resume and prepping for interviews.