People@Work: Social media's a boon for job seekers, but keep a sharp resume too

people-work-social-media-boon-job-seekers-sharp-resumePerhaps you've heard the one about the guy who sent a single "tweet" and got a job? It's pretty entertaining, but it's no joke. Freelance graphic designer Hal Thomas did just that in response to an ad posted by BFG Communications. The ad requested job candidates apply for the position with one message posted to social media network Twitter. Thomas' winning submission, which included a mock-up of a Wired magazine cover he created to showcase his talent, landed him the job and created buzz within social media circles.

As social media sites such as Twitter become increasingly popular, more and more such stories are likely to surface. New technology and networking methods are seemingly relegating cover letters and resumes to the dustbin of history. But does that mean job seekers should abandon the effort and expense it takes to create stellar cover letters and resumes?

Not so fast, says career expert Deborah Brown-Volkman, author of Don't Blow It: The Right Words For The Right Job. "Looking for a job is like dating," she says. Just as those looking for romantic partners don't limit their searches to singles bars, job seekers need to utilize all the tools available to them.

What particularly appeals to Brown-Volkman about sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, however, is that they tend to attract those eager to talk with and help other people. "Social media is a network medium that everybody kind of agrees to help everybody out when they join," she says.

Low-Cost Option

Another aspect of social media that's beneficial to job seekers is that it takes little, if any, money to become a proficient user, provided you have a computer and access to the Internet. Introductory classes in techniques for using social media don't cost nearly as much as having a resume professionally done. Brown-Volkman, for example, offers a 90-minute downloadable program on how to find jobs on the three most popular social-media sites, which she sells at her Web site for $29.95.

"There's a lot of stuff on the Web, but people don't know how to do it," she says.

With the labor market as competitive as it is, career consultant Andy Wainer tells his clients they need to work all the angles to land a job. He advocates sending out resumes, either by e-mail, fax or snail mail, but also says job seekers need to network in person, as well as on social media sites.

"Any good job is going to have dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants -- sometimes even more," says Wainer, the brains behind "The more sources, methods and resources you use in your job search, the more likely it is that you'll get job interviews."

Complimentary Efforts

One way to combine social media strategies with traditional job-seeking techniques is to list your user or account names on paper resumes, and provide links to account pages on resumes submitted via Web sites or e-mail. Your electronic and paper resumes ought to compliment each other, Wainer says, and urges applicants to follow up electronic submissions with paper copies mailed or faxed to hiring managers.

There are other traditional ways to connect with people that may lead to a paid position, such as volunteering, Wainer says. Unemployed workers who have been jobless for months often discover "that if they spend at least a couple of days volunteering, ideally using their professional skills ... [it] can really help them get a leg up in the job market."

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