How Social Media is Changing the Way People Show off Their Resumes

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The vast majority of college students and young graduates are active on social media sites. From Facebook to Twitter, members of the so-called “millennial” generation tend to be the biggest demographic sharing and creating content online. What many may not realize is just how powerful these existing networks can be when it comes to looking for meaningful work. Employers are quickly catching on the social media trend, and are using it to do everything from advertise open positions to engage in actual recruitment with contacts, friends, and followers. Scanning job boards and e-mailing a resume may still be an effective way to land an interview in some cases, but today’s recruitment world is increasingly dominated by much more tangential relationships. Understanding how to use the social networking space for professional gains is key to finding that perfect job in today’s still somewhat rough-and-tumble economy.

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“In the past, companies tried to determine candidate fit through their resumes. Today, employers perform web searches on candidates, learn more about them from social media, and examine their work samples,” Chirag Nangia, founder and CEO of online search tool Reppify, recently told Forbes. According to Nangia, the trend has its pitfalls, but is mostly positive. “The job seeker has more opportunities today to find the right job than ever before. What used to take a tremendous amount of legwork on the part of the candidate can now be done through a quick search on the web,” he said.

Job hiring statistics from the last year back up Nangia’s claims. Social recruiting platform Jobvite’s 2012 survey of online hiring practices found that a full 92 percent of U.S. companies are using social media to discover, vet, or reach out to potential hires. More than 70 percent have successfully hired a candidate through social media, and about 43 percent say that the quality of their applicant pool has improved since they began tapping the online space.

“The rise in social recruiting has allowed both candidates and employers an easier way to find the best match,” Dan Finnigan, Jobvite CEO, said shortly after the survey results were released. “We continue to see social recruiting gain popularity because it is more efficient than the days of sifting through a haystack of resumes. It also increases quality referral hires, which our own data on Jobvite proves are hired faster and last longer.”

Professional networking site LinkedIn tends to be one of recruiters’ favorites. This site allows users to build profiles of job-related contacts, and to join certain industry circles. Online recruitment is not just about the strictly professional, though; even more mainstream personal sites like Facebook and Twitter are increasingly being leveraged by and for job seekers. Most modern job counselors recommend that applicants increase their online visibility, whether by commenting more often, friending more groups and organizations, or blogging about professionally-relevant topics. The more pertinent information recruiters can find about potential candidates online, the better.

This, of course, may raise a few concerns—particularly for those with overly personal profile pages. Job seekers are usually advised to set up tight privacy parameters around photos and notes that they would not want their future bosses to see. Seekers should also take care to ensure that all of the information they provide across their profiles is consistent. “At least three or four times a week, we’ll have a company say about our candidates, ‘Gee whiz, we’d like to interview the guy or gal, but the LinkedIn profile doesn’t match the resume,’” Anthony Beshera, a recruiter with Dallas-based Babich and Associates, told CBS News.

The social media space is one of the fastest-growing recruitment platforms. Used poorly, it can essentially blackball otherwise quality candidates—but when leveraged with wisdom and a bit of foresight, it can be the difference between an unread e-mail and a job offer.

Emma Collins, author of a recent report of the top MBA programs in 2012, writes in today with an important article about how social networks can be leveraged for job advancement for everyone from new graduates to experienced freelancers. The Skyje Social Design Blog has looked at a couple of different ways of meeting client demands in prior postings; this article deals with the related question of how those clients can be discovered and reached out to in the first place.

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