Social media and job search success

by Lisa Trudel

originally published Spring 2012

During the 1980s recession, some job seekers used a popular job search method that involved self-promotion and pounding the pavement. Remember sandwich boards?

Before the internet, emails, Facebook and I-phones, job seekers used self-marketing ideas that now seem incredibly old-school and low-tech. With only land-line phone numbers for contact information, it was difficult to stand out from the crowd. Donning a sandwich board to bring resumes to life was considered an innovative and creative technique to capture the attention of potential employers.

Now that job seekers have contact information that includes not only phone numbers, but also emails and links to online WebPages or profiles, job searching is even more complex.

  45% of companies use Twitter to find talent

For example, at some companies, cover letters and resumes are initially read by resume scanners, not people. Other employers prefer receiving applications in a pdf attachment while others prefer the standard Word format. According to recent statistics, the influence that social media exerts on the job market is increasing at an incredibly fast pace. A study published in 2011 on www.jeffbullas.com reported that 45% of companies used Twitter to find talent, 24% of managers found “fit and personality” from a social media profile and 1 in 3 employers rejected candidates based upon something they found online.

One thing that has not changed since the 1980s is the question of how to stand out from the crowd. In 2012, the topic of whether or not Canada is in a recession is a controversial one. Results of a new online survey sponsored by the Economic Club of Canada stated that Canada has not been in a recession since 2009 even though 70% of Canadians say the country is in the middle of one. What is true is that in order to secure interviews, job seekers now need more than a resume.  

Today, job seekers are required to apply for every job with a targeted resume and cover letter, ensure they can provide current references, present an acceptable image and have strong communication skills. Using a variety of job search methods is considered essential including utilizing the traditional approaches of applying directly to job ads, conducting cold calls, attending Job Fairs and volunteering with the aim of increasing networking contacts and skills. 

Extrovert or introvert? 

New job search techniques that have worked successfully for many people begin by recognizing if you are an extrovert or an introvert. Since many extroverts tend to discover what they think by discussing their ideas with others, they like to build networking contacts by conducting face-to-face informational interviews, meeting as many people as possible, and attending events armed with business cards.

On the other hand, introverts process by reflecting and thinking through their ideas, and often have a predisposition to watch and gather data. Thus using social media tools to develop networking alliances can be a very successful approach for the introvert.

            For those who are a combination of both extrovert and introvert, one of many successful methods is to combine old-school ideas with social media trends. For example, instead of a sandwich board with a phone number on it, put your QR code on the sandwich board. With one click of an app using your I-phone, potential employers can quickly link to your essential contact information: your LinkedIn profile or another online promotional presence.

Not suitable for all job seekers

A word of caution: social media networking is not suitable for all job seekers, but for some it could be the missing piece of a career success puzzle. According to a 2011 survey, 89% of companies worldwide used social media networks for recruiting and 86% of employers say candidates should make their profiles more employer- friendly.  

To learn more job search ideas, or to discover how to tailor applications in order to pass the resume scanner test, job seekers can use the free services offered by the Centre for Education & Training. Visit us in person at 595 Parliament Street, Main Floor. Hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm. Or call 416-964-9797 for more information about employment preparation, career assessment and how to transform your job search by combining traditional approaches with the necessary essentials needed in 2012.

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This article was contributed by Lisa Trudel, Career Specialist with the Centre for Education & Training Employment Services. She can be contacted at ltrudel@tcet.com

Toronto, Canada