Gone are the days where recruiters and hiring managers only looked through their pile of resumes to find great job candidates. Thanks to social media's popularity, employers are now using tools like Facebook and LinkedIn to a) find candidates like you and b) find out more about job applicants.
According to Jobvite's 2012 Social Recruiting Survey, 92 percent of employers use or plan to use social media for recruiting this year. That number has increased steadily over the past few years. The biggest jump was on Facebook, where more recruiters are digging around to find out more about job candidates. And Twitter is now a tool that more than half of those surveyed use for their talent search.
Why are recruiters turning to social media if they're still getting a flood of applications for every job? Jobvite's survey says social media is showing them better job candidates, more candidates, and it's making it quicker to fill a position.
Your Best Bet
While recruiters sometimes use any and all social profiles to find out what you're all about, it seems LinkedIn still rules in terms of actually getting the job. Of the recruiters interviewed, 89 percent said that they had hired through LinkedIn, while 25 percent hired through Facebook, and 15 percent through Twitter.
So if you have to pick one social platform to focus your energy on, make it LinkedIn. Keep your profile updated with new job skills you pick up, and actively ask your contacts for testimonials for your profile. Join groups and participate in discussions. Provide answers on questions in your field. Establish yourself as an industry expert.
But don't completely neglect the other sites. It's best to have active profiles on the other top players: Facebook and Twitter, though you don't need to update all of them every hour, or even every week. Just keep a flow of posts, links, and comments coming so that a recruiter looking at your profile sees that you have been active.
How to Be Found
If you have a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or Google+ profile, you don't need to do anything special to be found, other than post a complete profile optimized with the information a recruiter could search for to find potential job candidates. According to Jobvite, 73 percent of recruiters will look for candidate's social profiles, even if they aren't provided. Almost half (48 percent) ALWAYS look for them and 25 percent do so occasionally.
But that's also something to be aware of: finding out everything about you is as simple as searching your name. Is there anything that might turn off a potential employer?
Scan your online profiles and make sure there's nothing that might affect your candidacy for a position. Remember that everything you put online is subject to scrutiny. With the social networks you use personally, use your privacy settings wisely.
Since LinkedIn is the go-to site for recruiters, consider updating your profile to list "career opportunities" as a reason to contact you. Many recruiters look at this to determine whether you might be open to a job change, or to find a shortlist of candidates to call about an opening.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.