From tweeting about office gossip to discussing dating nightmares, social media has literally redefined the way we communicate about our personal and professional lives. As a career coach and professional resume writer, I am witnessing an emerging trend: On the employment front, both job seekers and hiring managers are embracing social media with open arms. In fact, the utilization of social media is so prevalent, the very term “job search” is now shedding its legacy status and is being upgraded to “job connect” instead.
Employment dynamics have changed
As of July 2010, the unemployment rate touched nearly 9.5% and the number of unemployed individuals now peaks at around 14.6 million. What’s worse? The average workweek is approximately 34.1 hours, leaving many candidates the option to pursue a second job. With so many qualified professionals looking for work, the competition is undeniably intense.
“Connections” is the success mantra in today’s hyper-competitive landscape, and job seekers need to spend more time networking with key decision makers and hiring managers. While both employers and employees appear to be retaining job boards and other traditional recruitment strategies, social media appears to serve as a valuable addition to prevalent tools.
From an employer’s perspective, Dale DeSteno, a Direct Hire Recruiter with Kelly Services, considers social media an attractive proposition, primarily because of the potential “viral effect it could generate.”
Online networking connects people
Online networking can help you penetrate otherwise impregnable corporate fortresses and make actual contact with a hiring manager, without having to deal with the embarrassment of getting past gatekeepers and infamous switchboard operators. If you wanted to work at XYZ Company, for example, consider searching LinkedIn contacts. For well-networked professionals, it wouldn’t be unusual to find a connection that may be just a few degrees away. Why just LinkedIn? Even Facebook and other social networking forums may help you connect with an important decision maker or recruiter at your dream company.
Recruiters regularly mine LinkedIn to find potential hires and fulfill job orders. “I have had great luck with meeting candidates (and even clients) using LinkedIn,” says Dale DeSteno.
Apart from the ability to search candidates, LinkedIn allows professionals and peers to provide valuable recommendation and endorsements.
Establish your brand; blog your way to a job
Want to be even more proactive? Consider browsing through top-ranked blogs in your profession. In addition to niche job postings, you may be able to network with a key decision maker. Nick, a savvy networker, does just that. It was Nick’s regular practice to congratulate authors and provide valuable feedback and insights. This simple practice not only allowed him to snowball his network, but also empowered him with access to promising leads that are normally at the disposal of industry-recognized authors.
If you are an expert within your niche, consider writing about your profession. Blog posts, Twitter updates, Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates -- all of these are wonderful tools to create and disseminate information to a large audience.
The advantage of creating and distributing unique content is that there is always a possibility of generating viral publicity through forwarded posts. The strategy provides valuable opportunities to establish one’s brand as an expert and reach the desks of otherwise hard-to-reach senior executives.
Leverage multimedia to make your job search interactive
The rising popularity of YouTube has encouraged many job seekers to post video resumes and short presentations. With just one click, hiring managers can review these video resumes and correlate the paper resume with an actual person. The trend seems to be catching up, especially amongst technology-savvy job seekers.
Kathy Jegen, an HR professional, launched an aggressive job search campaign using her website (KathyJegen.com), social media, and a YouTube video. Speaking of her experience, Ms. Jegen says, “Utilizing my methods I took my job search from no response to my resume (using traditional job search boards), to up to 10 requests a day for my resume. I now have a contract opportunity that requires government clearance and will begin this contract position when I get official clearance. I will have the opportunity to interview for a position that will lead to a VP role in two years.”
The benefits of social media certainly stand out, but like any other high visibility medium, it does call for some discipline and policing. Given the public reach and accessibility of social media, it is not unusual for hiring managers to find online postings, videos, and pictures that could jeopardize your career success.