If you've read my blog for Emerging Professionals or follow me on Twitter, you will not be surprised to learn that I love using social media. I believe social media is radically transforming the way job seekers and employers connect. Trapeze_catch

I see signs of the social media revolution everywhere: from ExecuNet findings that 86% of executive recruiters check out candidates on the web before hiring, to a question asked--and self-answered by a web analytics specialist last week: "Do you think I still have any chance of getting a job by responding to listings on a job board alone? I don't think so."

The evidence that there is a fundamental shift in how we search and apply for jobs is everywhere. The number of users using LinkedIn grew by over 100% from September 2008 to March 2009; the number of people using Twitter doubled in March alone. And Facebook recently passed the 100 million customer mark.

Business Week recently addressed the impact of these sites on the job search strategy with a piece entitled, "Recruiting: Enough to Make a Monster Tremble." Read the article, and pay attention to the sections on how headhunters and other prospective employers are using the social media to find, research, and identify great candidates. The article makes a strong case for managing and building your online identity.

That being said, as I see it how you use social media in your job search is a personal choice. I see it as a three step program; everyone needs to do step one--but step two and three are optional.

Must Do:

  • Evaluate your online presence and ensure that your Google results are "digital dirt" free. You don't want to get screened out based on your information online, do you?
  • Ensure currency of contact information. You don't want to miss out on an opportunity because of a non-working e-mail address.

Should Do (Strategies that Help Your Job Search)

  • Maintain a profile on LinkedIn and other social networking sites specific to your field. (For example, if you are a scientist, you may want to join Epernicus.)
  • Educate yourself. Monitor blogs, websites, and news streams on your field and organizations of interest. (Employers rarely know how much you are interested in them until you show them. Do your homework and you can expand your network of contacts and show you are on top of trends.)

Could Do But Don't Have to Do

  • Actively use social media as a key component in your job search. From answering questions on LinkedIn to blogging and Twitter, it is easy to showcase what you know and what you'd like to do.

In my next post, I'll share thoughts on how and when you may want to incorporate social media in your job search...including mistakes made and lessons taught to me by clients.

Until then, wishing you success...