Chances are you are already familiar with social networks as tools for keeping in touch with friends, or to broadcast your thoughts.
But if their value as a way of connecting with potential employers has passed you by, it's time to wise up fast. A recent survey showed that nearly 90 per cent of employers either use, or plan to use, social media for recruiting.
Last month saw the launch of the "Apply with LinkedIn" button, enabling jobseekers to send their public profile data from the business professional network directly to an employer. Reports of the death of the traditional paper CV may be premature, but clearly it is becoming an increasingly less influential part of the jobseeker's armoury.
LinkedIn, with 100 million members, is still the site of choice for companies hiring directly, but Facebook (750 million) and Twitter (200 million) are catching up, with many believing a tipping point has been reached in the ways employers seek to hire staff.
But what does it all mean for jobseekers? Understanding the rules of social recruitment is key. At first glance, employers may seem to hold all the cards, but understanding their tactics can considerably improve your odds of getting noticed.
"It's not enough to simply push your CV up on the web and hope a company is going to come to you; the onus is on you to get out there and persuade," says Matthew Jeffery, head of talent acquisition at software house Autodesk.
1.) You don't have to be ‘looking' to be looking
If you are one of the 10 per cent of LinkedIn members actively seeking work, the bad news is that the site's Corporate Recruiter tool, which it sells to employers, allows them access to the "passive" 90 per ent of members in jobs.
"From the corporate perspective, the talent pool is shrinking," says Jeffery. "Competitors are getting better at recruiting people from rivals, and graduate talent is becoming of a more mixed quality. We have to be much more aggressive at getting out into the passive pool."
However, Jared Goralnick, founder of e-mail management service AwayFind, believes social media can empower jobseekers.
"If employers are filtering for people who have jobs when they're recruiting, maybe you can't get into that pool. But it's still only one of the pools," he says. How people present themselves online, he says, is "a huge opportunity to put yourself in a position of authority".
2.) Build your own work brand, but be judicious with it
To make yourself more visible, think about how you present and express skills and experience on a LinkedIn profile just as carefully as you would with a paper CV. Keep your summary and experience concise and to the point, incorporating key search terms.
And widen your appeal by linking out to blogposts or articles of professional relevance even to your other social media profiles if you are confident they portray you in a good light. LinkedIn has more tips here.
But making too much noise without substance can be risky. Employers can be suspicious of people who seem to be trying too hard to get noticed, so think carefully about paid-for services that claim to flag up your visibility, such as LinkedIn's Job Seeker Premium.
3.) Strike up conversations with potential employers
Many firms now put significant resources into Facebook pages with the end goal of identifying future employees. "Companies are building their own communities of people interested in their products or services, or what they've got to say," Jeffery says. "They then start mapping out competitors and talent within other areas, then try to attract them in be it through employment branding, social media, whatever they can use."
Participating in these professional communities or "talent networks", as HR professionals call them is key, says Lucian Tarnowski, chief executive of social recruitment consultancy Brave New Talent.
Employers also take a keen interest in broader professional networks, perhaps based around chartered institutes or other industry-specific websites. Joining these not only lets you connect with others in your trade but also puts you in sight of many smaller employers who cannot afford to recruit through LinkedIn or maintain a serious Facebook presence.
4.) Understand the pros and cons of different networks
At first glance, Facebook, with all its potential for indiscretion, might seem like a terrible place from which to tout yourself to potential employers.
But, says Tarnowski, it illustrates another truth of the new social recruitment landscape: different networks have markedly different limitations.
"If an employer is looking to fill a specific role, they can find someone suitable [onLinkedIn]," he says.
"But it's not so good for an employer who will need a certain number of, say, marketing professionals next year. That's where the power of the community can come in."
Source: Gulf News