A survey conducted in the US last year revealed that close to 90% of employers either recruited, or were planning to recruit, through social media.
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Employers and recruiters in the UK are also recognising the advantages of using social media as a key element of their recruitment strategy.
If you are searching for a job, keep looking on the traditional internet job sites, but also expect to find an increasing number of opportunities via social media platforms.
At a basic level, and assuming you have a Facebook account, you can let your Facebook friends know that you are available for work, and that friendly guy from the football club could just be in a position to give you a lead for your next job.
Raise your professional profile on LinkedIn
A more professional resource is LinkedIn. Many recruiters now use LinkedIn as their primary tool for sourcing candidates, so having a well-written and keyword-rich LinkedIn profile is essential. Make sure your profile reflects your area of expertise. "Richard Jones, middleware specialist" or "John Smith, TOGAF-qualified architect" will ensure that your details come up in recruiter searches.
From within LinkedIn you can also join a wide range of professional groups. Examples include The Project Manager Network, SAP Consultants and Java Developers. Apart from linking with professionals in your own field, there are often job opportunities available through these groups, and recruiters join the groups searching for suitable candidates.
Build a recruiter-friendly Twitter bio
If the mention of Twitter gets you thinking about inane tweets from celebrities, then think again. With 200 million members worldwide – and growing – Twitter is a force to be reckoned with, and both employers and recruiters now use Twitter on a regular basis to search for candidates and advertise vacancies.
If you are an IT professional, make sure you have a recruiter-friendly and keyword-rich Twitter bio (maximum 160 characters) and start tweeting about your area of expertise – you may well catch the attention of a recruiter searching for candidates with your skills.
Because you are limited to 140 characters on Twitter, use Tiny URL to add a shortened version of the link to your LinkedIn profile at the end of each tweet so that recruiters can immediately see details of your professional background. Remember to use the appropriate hash tags (#) so that your tweets are picked up by recruiters. Try using #ukjobs and #IT at the beginning of each tweet.
If you want to search for jobs on Twitter, use the advanced search feature to specify a particular job and location. The search string: "Java" “jobs” near:"London" within:25mi will bring up a selection of Java jobs based within 25 miles of London. You can also start following recruitment officers from employers that you would like to work for and then either respond to their advertisements or get in touch directly.
Remember that on Twitter there are no restrictions on who you may contact with, so go ahead and tweet the CIO or IT director of your target employer. They may not respond, of course, but Twitter is a friendly platform and you are far more likely to get a response via Twitter than you are from an email or phone call.
Finally, if you plan to use social media as part of your job search, remember that recruiters regularly carry out internet searches on the names of potential employees. Keep your personal life private on Facebook and make sure that all your online content is positive and professional.
Jeremy I’Anson is a professional career coach and the author of You’re Hired! Total Job Search 2013, to be published by Trotman Education on 1 November 2012. Visit www.totaljobsearchonline.com for further details.