Believe it or not, people use social media for more than just checking in at the gym or sharing cat pictures. It’s also a great job-hunting tool, and employers are using it too.

According to Forbes, CareerBuilder.com surveyed 2,303 hiring managers to find out what role social media plays in their hiring process. They found that 37% of human resource professionals use social media to screen potential job candidates to decide if they’re worth a phone call. If employers are using these sites to hire, you should be using them to get hired.

Market Yourself

The University of Kent cited a study which found that less than 40% of recent graduates would consider using social media to market themselves to potential employers. This is crazy talk when you consider that sites like LinkedIn exist specifically for this purpose. Why not take advantage? A professional, thorough LinkedIn profile can tell hiring managers all they need to know about your skills and accomplishments. It lets them know you’re serious about starting or continuing a career and pursuing your goals.

It’s important to note that you must decide how you’re going to use each of your social media profiles. LinkedIn is strictly for professionals, whereas sites like Facebook and Twitter are great for keeping in touch with friends and family. If you want to use your Facebook page to market yourself, you’ll need to make sure you always present yourself professionally. We’ll touch more on that shortly.

Connect With Employers

Social media is a great way to connect with companies you’re interested in becoming a part of. LinkedIn is obviously a wonderful networking tool, but Twitter and Facebook are just as handy. Follow or like a company so you can keep up with their posts, and chime in when you can. Any positive interaction with recruiters, however brief, can only serve you positively in the future.

If you do interact with the company via sites like Facebook or Twitter, it wouldn’t hurt to include a link to your LinkedIn account in your profile. So if you pique the employer’s interest and they decide to check you out, they have an easy way to glimpse your professional profile.

Research a Company

Don’t forget that you can use social media to research a company, too. Sure, you can visit their About page to get an idea of their values or even the work environment, but firsthand accounts are preferable.

Use social networking to connect with current or former employees to learn about their experiences with a company. How were they treated? Was it a rewarding job? What are they looking for beyond what appears in the job posting? Ask any questions that will give you valuable insight into the companies you’re interested in.

Put Your Best Foot Forward 

Finally, when you’re using social media, always put your best foot forward. Even if you aren’t using your Facebook as a professional profile, count on hiring managers to be scoping it out anyway. The same CareerBuilder.com survey from above found that a third of the employers who said they use social media to screen candidates found content that eliminated potential hires from the running.

To keep up a strong professional profile, make sure your Facebook profile picture doesn’t show you under the influence or half-naked (or both) and that you crank your privacy settings way up if you don’t want recruiters to see your posts or photos. Otherwise, keep your status updates clean and untag yourself from compromising pictures.

The best part about all of this is that once you start using social media as a job-seeking tool, it’s incredibly easy to keep up. Just about every network has an app, so any mobile device, such as Nokia smartphone, can let you stay connected no matter what, which is incredibly convenient.

By now you should be hard-pressed to find an excuse not to use social media in your job hunt. If you use these sites everyday for fun, why not also use them to help meet your career goals?


Image via Flickr by Jason A. Howie