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Social media use says what resume can't to recruiters

| Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Imagine this: you have not applied for a single job, yet someone is ready to hire you, sight unseen.

How can this be? Actually, this scenario is entirely possible nowadays, and the reason is social media. Employers and recruiters are checking you out more than you probably realize. Depending upon what they learn, they decide whether or not to get in touch with you.

Maybe they heard about you from a network contact and decided to Google you, which led to your blog. Maybe they did a LinkedIn keyword search to find someone with your skills. Maybe they've noticed your tweets on Twitter.

If you are active on social media, recruiters can learn a lot about you — plenty more than they would learn from your resume. On social media, they can learn all about your job and how you do it. They can learn about your personality, your friends, your network connections, your likes and dislikes, your values, and how you spend your time.

Of course, employers can also learn things about you that you would rather keep private. So, periodically Google yourself to make sure nothing that could be harmful to your career shows up. That could include inappropriate pictures or words, or being found on an inappropriate site. By now, you'd think most people would know these things, but trust me, some don't. Just last week I heard from a woman in her 60s who was dismayed because she had posted a negative comment about her former employer on a LinkedIn group. She was panicked until she learned how to erase her words.

Getting a feel for who you really are enables employers to zero in on precisely the kind of person they want to hire. Then, when they are convinced you are a strong possibility, they can invite you to come talk with them.

Employers who understand the power of deploying social media for recruiting are way ahead of those who don't. Knowing the tactics allows them to poach passive candidates, which in the world of recruiting is tremendously significant. According to “A World Gone Social” by Ted Coiné and Mark Babbit (Amacom, 2014), many large employers have invested heavily in social networking for recruiting purposes, with the players having an average of 6.2 posts per week on Facebook and 23 tweets per week on Twitter. Further, the authors say that recruitment professionals from large companies such as Ford and Google regularly participate in recruiting-related Twitter chats. This enables them to source passive as well as active candidates.

Out of curiosity about how active these large-employer recruiters are, I sent the Google recruiter mentioned in “A World Gone Social” a nicely worded invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Within two hours, he accepted my invitation with these words: “Let's chat!”

Social recruiting is not a fad that is leaving us soon, but at this stage, many employers and job applicants are ignoring it or, worse yet, blissfully unaware of it. The truth is, if you are looking to get hired at a family-owned business, at a small business, or at any organization that is not known for being active on social media, the odds are good you can still rely on traditional job search methods such as networking and sending your resume to posted jobs and to employers you are targeting. But make no mistake, large employers (and certainly recruiters) are on the prowl on social media. Further, this is a trend that will increase and, over time, be deployed to some degree by most employers, so why not get active now?

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