Can social media really get you a job?

It sure can – and if you aren’t using it you’re missing out, says director of online recruitment at digital recruitment agency Fresh Resources, Barry Furby

Graduates merrily share all manner of intimate trivia with your friends online – yet when it comes to schmoozing employers you go all shy. Relatively few graduates say you’d feel confident using social media to help you find a job. But 2010’s job market is too tough to ignore such a potentially brilliant job-hunting tool. So here I’ll answer your questions about finding a job using Twitter and LinkedIn – and explain why Facebook is best kept between you and your mates.

Is social media really an appropriate way to find work?

Yes, it is now. In the last two years, smart companies have wised up to using social media as a way to find great candidates — a variety of recruiters and bluechip brands now actively recruit in the digital space. Why? Because social media provides a free platform where businesses can connect and engage with new talent (that’s you lot), often providing instant results. At first, these companies just advertised specific roles and waited for great candidates to get in touch. Now they’re being proactive — approaching the best candidates directly. This means that for graduates, there’s a real possibility that you will be ‘found’. Twitter and LinkedIn are the best two to use — that’s where I hunt for great candidates for my clients. Keep Facebook for your personal life. I don’t see much value in using it as a recruitment tool – but change your privacy settings just to be on the safe side.

What sort of candidate is most likely to get ‘found’?

When writing your professional profiles, graduates should think about what kind of overall ‘digital footprint’ you want to leave. In other words, what publicly available details will employers be able to see – and what impression of you will these give? Professional profiles are an important opportunity to provide a punchy snapshot of what you are about and what you feel your strengths are. Include (brief) details of your experience but also make sure you grab this opportunity to spell out what you’re looking for and why. For example, you could describe yourself as: “A marketing graduate with a real passion for digital media and technology, looking for an opportunity to immerse myself in the challenges of a leading digital creative agency.”

So graduates just create a profile on these sites — and sit back and wait?

No! Setting up a profile is just the first step. You’ll need to be proactive and put in a bit of time and effort up-front to maximise your chances of being discovered (more on this on the next page). But once you’re set up, you’ll quickly see this was time well spent – it won’t be long before you start seeing results. Within a few weeks you’ll have found multiple job leads and communities that share opportunities and referrals.