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By Nina Hendry
MyCareer

Social media continues to emerge as a vital tool for job seekers, writes Nina Hendy.

Brazen job-hunters are announcing future career ambitions on social media sites in growing numbers. It's a brave new world as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and other social media sites become the new digital curriculum vitae.

Journalism graduate Tom Cowie attracted strong media interest when he launched his Tom Wants a Job blog when starting his job-hunt. Just 38 days later he landed a job as a junior reporter with independent news site Crikey, based in Melbourne. He's been with the company two years and is now the editor of The Power Index.

Victorian woman Jeanie Irving hopes to have as much success as Cowie. She decided to start spruiking the fact that she's looking for a new career challenge on social media a couple of months ago.

The land development administrator made her intentions clear on her LinkedIn profile, Twitter and her blog, inspiredwish.com, which aims to inspire women to feel good about themselves. She's not sure what sort of job she's hoping to land, but that makes the search even more exciting, she says.

"I'd like to be in a more creative field than I am, so I figured I'd stick my neck out there and see what comes of it," Irving says.

"It makes a lot of sense to look for a job on social media rather than sit there scouring through the job ads. It seems so old-fashioned to send out resumes when you can utilise your own online presence."

Not surprisingly, social media has become a powerful research tool for recruiters, who scour social media profiles in the hope of finding out what job applicants don't include in their CV.

In fact, the Social Recruiting Activity Report by Bullhorn Reach, released earlier this year, found that 48 per cent of recruiters globally use only LinkedIn to secure talent.

The sales director for Sydney-based recruitment software provider Bullhorn, Ben Fuller, says that while Twitter provides the best return on investment for recruiters, LinkedIn continues to generate a high volume of job interest and activity.

"Twitter is still an emerging platform for recruiters," Fuller says. "Those that aim to assertively grow their followers to take full advantage of its potential will see results for both customers and candidates."

However, LinkedIn is the best established of the three platforms for recruiters, with each recruiter adding an average of 18.5 LinkedIn connections to their network a week, the report says.

A human resources director at Randstad, Tiffany Quinlan, says she uses social media sites to find out what a job applicant is really like. Many profiles are open to the public, with users often careless or unaware of privacy settings, she says.

"Social media profiles offer unconcealed insight into the character, providing the glue that brings all the candidate research information together - straight from the horse's mouth," Quinlan says.

"Social media profiles, combined with the resume, the interview and the psychometric testing, can now be considered a dream package."

A director of Boston Kennedy recruitment firm in Melbourne, Sarah Kennedy, agrees that social media is a great way for job seekers to showcase themselves to potential employers. She says joining online discussions for industry groups to show that
you're a thought leader in your field can stand you apart.

"Just make sure you keep it professional and that you're using good language," she says.

A LinkedIn profile should also be created with care and kept updated, she says. But inappropriate comments and images on social media sites do cost applicants the job.

A recruiter at Acquire Executive, Craig Sneesby, says that while social media is a great tool to track down skilled people in sectors in which it is typically difficult to find talent, it can also uncover information that job seekers probably don't want seen.

"In one case, a job-hunter had a rather offensive religious statement as their profile picture, which made me think twice about whether they were suitable for the job." 

The Antisocial Network

Paul Lyons, Ambition Recruitment 

In the Middle Ages in Europe, when most people lived in a single village and rarely ventured beyond its boundaries, everyone knew pretty much everything about everyone else. There was nowhere to hide from good news or bad.

We are fast approaching the new global village, where billions of job seekers are recognising that good news travels fast but bad news travels faster via social media.

It's not hard to imagine that LinkedIn might soon be overtaken by a plethora of specialist, and potentially intrusive, networking sites that focus on key industry disciplines and sectors.

They will offer a much more comprehensive profile of individuals by using a social media trawl for information and photos that will highlight work performance and a range of outside interests.

While this may be useful in conveying someone's personality and cultural match, it could be embarrassing and potentially deal-breaking if photos of your drunken Ibiza holiday or raunchy body shots for an old flame were matched to your profile.

The anonymous comments section will provide any slanderous or salacious details on work history, and market trends will encourage people to subscribe to public personality profiles that could suggest you're not the person you want your employers and potential employers to think you are.

Ambition Recruitment 

Published: 29 September 2012


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