By Emma Collins
The internet, and particularly social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, have changed the way employees are recruited. Increasingly, employers are using these tools to seek out qualified employees, often in lieu of directly received resumes. For job seekers, building an online presence has become more important than ever before. These resources, and knowledge of how to properly use them, can also greatly increase one’s chances of being noticed in a competitive market.
Union Square Ventures, a New York venture-capital firm, recently asked applicants for an open investment analyst position to send links representing their “web presence.” Applicants were also required to submit short videos demonstrating their interest in the position. Union Square Ventures is an investor in Twitter, Foursquare and Zynga, among other tech companies, and the company executives feel these measures allow them to attract higher-quality candidates who are knowledgeable about the companies with which they work. “A resume doesn’t provide much depth about a candidate,” says Christina Cacioppo, associate at Union Square Ventures. “We are most interested in what people are like, what they are like to work with, how they think,” she says.
The hiring tactics employed at Union Square Ventures are becoming increasing popular among a variety of companies, with many agreeing a resume is not the best way to determine whether a potential employee will be a good social fit for the company. John Fischer, founder of StickerGiant.com , says his company has developed an online survey to help screen applicants. Questions on the survey might ask “What is your ideal dream job?” or “What is the best job you’ve ever had?” Applicants can also attach a resume if they prefer, but it isn’t required. Fischer believes the survey helps in filtering out candidates without proper qualifications for the position.
A July 2012 survey from Jobvite found that 92% of employers are using or planning to use social networks for recruiting before the end of the year. “Social networking is a great way to make connections with potential job opportunities … and to promote your brand across the internet,” says Farhan Yasin, president of CareerBuilder.com. However, “More employers are now using social networking sites to uncover any digital dirt,” says Yasin. A survey from CareerBuilder found that over 40% of employers discarded a job seeker’s resume after checking their Facebook page. “Job seekers are urged to be mindful of the information they post online. They are indirectly communicating with potential employers,” Yasin says.
Employees who want to ensure that they show their best face to potential employers can direct them to sites like LinkedIn, which specializes in business-oriented, professionally-minded profiles, and Klout, which measures the influence social media users hold over their online connections. As of 2011, more than 2,500 companies are using Klout’s data.“For the first time, we’re all on an even playing field,” says Joe Fernandez, the chief executive and co-founder of Klout. “For the first time, it’s not just how much money you have or what you look like. It’s what you say and how you say it.”
As influential as one’s Klout score is becoming, however, there is perhaps no more powerful online recruiting tool than LinkedIn, a site that was designed for recruiting, and includes an entire suite of recruiting resources. The LinkedIn Recruiter allows employers to reach out to candidates by expanding the reach of their personal networks. As of 2012, 93% of recruiters are using the site to discover talent, up from 87% in 2011. 89% of recruiters claim they have even hired through LinkedIn.
In order to assure their online profiles are an asset and not a liability, applicants should ensure their LinkedIn profiles are filled out completely and flawlessly. Grammatical errors may seem minor, but when an online profile is one’s only opportunity to reach an employer, it can make a significant difference. Adding keywords to a job title, such as “eCommerce” or “Social Media Specialist” can also ensure search results are optimized for employers who perform random online searches. Joining industry groups on Facebook or connecting and conversing with professionals on Twitter can also help build a network of potentially valuable contacts. Social media and online networking experts also stress the importance of focusing one’s digital presence on select areas of interest, the more specific the better.
Maintaining online profiles that are consistent while illustrating passion and knowledge about one’s expertise illustrate trustworthiness to employers. While the traditional resume will likely have a place in the hiring process for years to come, the prevalence, efficiency and perceived effectiveness of online networks suggest that the job seekers who utilize these resources will markedly increase their chances of landing their dream jobs in the near future.
About the author
Writer Emma Collins is the author of the recently published Master of Business Administration (MBA) program rankings 2012. Her thoughts in this article build on prior discussions of how the “net native” generation is changing things in business, for better or worse.