How social media can land you a job

When was the last time you faxed over your CV?
Recruiters may be reining in their sharpest practices, but there are tricks to getting noticed.
When the internet was still in its infancy 20 years ago, finding applicants for a job was all about placing an ad and waiting for the responses to come in. As recruiters, we’d then have the pain of sifting through the mountains of CVs that would arrive by post – or fax. Yes, aspects were automated, but much was purely manual. No wonder a generation of head-hunters and recruitment agencies emerged to manage this headache for employers. And while far from perfect, it worked – even though everything was predicated on job seekers making the first move to be spotted.

MANNA FROM HEAVEN

Twenty years on, and the tables have well and truly turned. Social media sites have seen to that. Individuals – by their millions – are posting literally billions of pages of information about themselves on social media sites. For recruiters, such open candour initially proved pure manna from heaven. Just by using one or two sites, they could do their one or two simple manual searches and build fresh new candidate lists each time.
In a recent IT Job Board survey of recruitment agencies, 96 per cent admitted to using social media to source candidates. And, on one level, they have been pushing at an open door. In a separate survey of 856 tech professionals, three quarters (74 per cent) said that they currently use social sites to look for new jobs. Even more (84 per cent) claimed they would be receptive to being approached by recruiters or companies via social or professional networks with work-related opportunities.
But here’s the rub. A vociferous minority – many of them people who are now being regularly contacted – absolutely do not approve of recruiters or companies contacting them via social sites. To put this into perspective, around a quarter of those surveyed are now being contacted once or more a week by recruiters via social sites. Chief among their concerns were issues of spam, privacy and the lack of relevant opportunities being presented. From the prospective candidate’s perspective, this is an inexcusable error given the amount of information they may have posted about themselves.

KILLING THE GOLDEN GOOSE

In short, the pressure is increasingly on recruiters to work more intelligently if they are not to kill the social golden goose. But given the sheer volume of information now on social sites, how realistic is this?
Thankfully, for recruiters, the US looks to be leading the way with the arrival of intelligent social search engines such as Open Web. These are able to track publicly-available data from over 130 social sites and automatically map it alongside a range of criteria, such as skills, education, past employers, and peer ranking. Recruiters are then able to refine their search further by using multiple filters. In short, recruiters are being teched up to allow them to work in a far more sophisticated – and time efficient – manner. And it’s now happening not just in the US but in the UK.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR PROFESSIONALS

But what do these shifts in working methods by recruiters mean for the career-minded professional?
First and foremost, you must recognise the usefulness of social media and not be shy about it. Few, if any of us, can claim to be genuinely above it. That, however, doesn’t mean needing to be all things to all people. Simply focus on those social sites, groups and forums that are most relevant to your sector, make sure your profiles are consistent across each, and get involved in debates – or post comments – that are relevant to your area of expertise.
But don’t let the social tail wag the dog. How you conduct yourself in your own workplace and how you respond to information picked up from the outside world – most notably job ads – can still massively influence your career path.
Alex Farrell is managing director of The IT Job Board.

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