Posted on / Updated on / in Blog & Human Resources & Recruiting /

Warning: This article is a bit lengthy, but for good reason. It may end up changing how you think about your recruiting processes. Read it all the way through and think about how you can implement the techniques within into your business.

Whether you’re currently a job seeker or whether you’re a recruiter this article will open your eyes to the power of social media on the job market landscape. Don’t let those two words (social media) scare you. They’re changing the business world as we know it and its time to get up to speed, especially in the world of HR.

Listen up. You’ll never think of social media the same way again.

Social Media is a Good Thing

There is a lot of negativity flowing around when it comes to social media and the effect it can have on a job search, but being a member of the tech-savvy labeled Generation Y I suppose I tend to see things a bit differently than most.

Put on your imagination cap and picture this.

(This story is written from an employee perspective, but if you’re a recruiter it will be easy for you to relate to as well.)

You’re a highly educated professional. You’ve been in the job market for years upon years. You’re considered an expert in every area of your profession. And you’ve still got plenty of energy to help take a company to the top. Your hard work has paid off and you’ve finally made it. Yes! Any organization would be lucky to have you, and all of your co-workers know this for a fact… but is that enough?

One day your boss walks into your huge office carrying an uneasy demeanor… and says something along the lines of “It’s been great and we have tried to make it work in the budget, but we just can’t make it work anymore. We’ve decided to let you go.” Yes, you’re a valuable employee, but it can happen to anyone. No matter the reason, at this point you hear nothing else further, but “You’re toast.”

Your proverbial perfect professional world has been turned on its back. So, Now What? Now you’re stuck dusting off your resume, refreshing your network of references, and getting the word out that there is an extremely valuable “whatever it is that you do” looking for work.

So you begin the typical job search process. You call (or dare I say it, text) everyone you know asking if they know of anything available and if they could put in a word for you somewhere. The problem is… you have a finite following, everyone does. You can only call so many people before you run out of contacts. The other problem is… you have only established yourself as an expert at your current position.

As far as other employers are concerned, you don’t exist. No one outside of that small network of people who you have associated with over the years knows what you really do behind the scenes.

You’re stuck going through interview after interview quantifying your achievements and answering the same questions over and over until you’re finally offered a job that you most likely take because you need it. It’s a painful process for anyone. You wish there were another way. Well there is.

That’s where online social media and social networking comes in.

Imagine if you had been building up your personal brand over the past few years. Imagine if you had thousands of twitter followers whose eyes jump open when you post a tweet.

Imagine if your facebook fan page was booming with people who “Like” you. Imagine if your Youtube channel was viral with the videos you post about how to do “whatever it is that you do” so well.

Imagine if your blog pulled in thousands of visits per month from people who know you as THE expert in your industry and that you had a relationship with all of these people.

Imagine if your Linkedin discussion posts routinely exploded into full-fledged professional conversations with those in your field.

And those are just the big boys. This doesn’t even take into account the smaller social networks that can be used to supplement your expertise.

From an employee perspective, how much easier would your job search be with these assets in place (yes, I said assets)? Rather than pushing the word out that you’re looking for work with a single awkward phone call at a time, through desperate sounding emails, and with time-intensive in-person networking (gasp), all you have to do is upload a video to your Youtube channel, toss out a tweet or two, post a facebook status update, write a blog post, and let the Linkedin world know that your skills and talents are now available for the taking.

Open the flood gates. Let the job offers flow!

Now of course that’s a slight exaggeration. You’re still going to have to do a bit of searching and probably a bit of offline networking. But you see my point, right. By harnessing the power of the vast array of social media tools at anyone’s disposal for free, you can dramatically expand your referral network, and you can showcase your skills in an easily accessible fashion for anyone to see.

When someone asks you what you’ve accomplished you don’t have to prove anything to them. You already have a solid portfolio built up online.

In literally a couple of days, thousands of people who regard you as the go to expert in your field will know that you’re looking for work. And for those people who you do have to contact directly, send them to your social profiles as proof of your talents. They’ll be impressed. You’ll most likely have multiple job offers to choose from in a matter of weeks.

Ok, But How Does This Help With Recruiting?

From a recruiting perspective, how valuable would this kind of information be when making a hiring decision? Rather than using the traditional post and wait method of relying on job post boards that routinely send you bleak resume after bleak resume with very little to differentiate each one from the next… had you been proactively monitoring social networks in your area of recruiting (use tools like Google Alerts and RSS feeds for this and keep up with potential candidates on Linkedin) you would find yourself hard pressed not to get wind of this person who is now available for hire.

Even if you hadn’t been watching the social media landscape and for some reason this person contacts you, imagine how much more credibility and authority your Google search on their name would now reveal with such a powerful and established personal brand (PS to job seekers. Google your name and make sure you like what comes up. A lot of recruiters do this.)

Need to research this person’s knowledge? Need demonstrated proof of what they told you in their phone interview? Watch their Youtube videos, read their blog posts, view their Linkedin discussions and follow their tweets for a few days. You’ll get to know the person pretty well.

You Still Have to do Your Homework

Of course it would be irresponsible to hire solely based on this information. You’ll still want to use tools like interviews and assessments to get to know your candidate and ensure that they fit your company culture, but in comparison it’s difficult to say that this person doesn’t carry much more clout than the next who isn’t socially networked to the moon.

It’s true that social media is still in its development stages and it’s still a little bit scary to some of us, but it’s no longer a toddler. It has a personality and it has blossomed into a legitimate force that cannot be ignored. The personal branding boat is sailing online. Whether you’re an employee or a recruiter, you had better get on board. A paradigm shift is imminent.

It’s happening.

PS: For those who are currently using or plan to use social media to establish an online brand, take good care to make sure your message is consistent across all of these platforms. This information is public. Use each to reinforce the next with the same consistent message. Also make sure you’re not violating any agreements you have signed with your employer.

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It’s not hard to find someone who can do the job. The difficult part is finding those who can do the job, AND fit your team.

Download Our HR 101 Toolkit today to find your answers to this problem.

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about the author: Amy Letke

Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success.

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  • Laurie Blackwell

    commented on November 1, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    This is a great article! I admit that I am a total idiot about social networking. Is there a class outthere anywhere that teaches how to “network” into all this? I’m sure the possibilities are endless and unfortunately, I’m clueless :-0