Aug 022012

Social media-savvy jobseekers who can think like a search engine are most likely to succeed in the future world of job hunting, say recruitment experts.

A new generation of software tools that can trawl the web – including social media sites – for job candidates, will completely transform the hiring process.

“Recruitment is heading the way of ‘big data’ and everything online will be used to not only find you, but to assess you as a candidate for a role that you have never applied for in a company you have never heard of and, maybe, in a town, city or country you have never visited,” said recruitment trainer, Ross Clennett.

‘Big data’ refers to all of that unstructured public information – such as that found in social media sites – and it has captured the attention of business commentators.

In a recent blog, US recruitment commentator Kevin Wheeler wrote about the big analytical systems currently in development by large software firms like Oracle, IBM, HP, EMC and SAS.

“We have an increasing ability to learn more and more about people by gleaning bits of information about someone from scraping or extracting data from websites/public information/social networks and from information about the products or services someone buys or uses, and from their interests extracted from comments, Tweets, locations, and so forth,” he wrote.

Wheeler also recently told attendees at the Australian Talent Conference that social media would become the foundation of all recruiting.

A new study supports his prediction. US recruitment software company, Jobvite annually polls more than 1000 human resources and recruitment professionals on their social recruiting activities and intentions. This year it found 92 per cent were using social networks and media to find talent, up from 78 per cent five years ago.

Clennett said job seekers also stood to gain from the trend. It won’t make recruitment more impersonal or robotic, he said. Instead it will “result in the placement of more people, more frequently and quickly, into jobs that are well matched to their capabilities and aspirations”.

Mark Smith, a director with recruiting firm people2people, agreed: “In 10 years’ time, you won’t be sending off a CV. Your professional profile will be online and you will expect to be found.”

This obviously has some implications for the way we use social media however. For instance, it may stifle the more frivolous side of our interactions.

It’s worth pondering, especially considering nine out of 10 US companies already use social media to screen potential job candidates, according to a survey by Reppler, a California-based social media reputation management service

Reppler has developed a free application that can help you assess your online image. It looks at the completeness of information in your profiles, the consistency of your information across different social networks, the tone of your content, the appropriateness of your content and the number of people you are connected to.

On the flipside, savvy jobseekers can also use social media channels to gain an edge in the job market. Here are some things to consider:


According to Reppler spokeswoman Heidemarie Heroldt, jobseekers can tweak their social media presence to help build their credentials for a particular job. Facebook in particular allows job seekers to show off their personality, she said.

“While your skills and work experience are essential for job performance, a match between your personality, the company culture and the job position is just as important. It gets expensive for companies to hire someone just to find out that the chemistry is not right.”

Recent research backs this. A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found a person’s Facebook profile could reveal what kind of employee they might be with great accuracy.

They found personality attributes associated with job success included extroversion, conscientiousness, emotional stability, agreeableness and openness to new experiences.

However, Ms Heroldt said that the ideal personality attributes depend on the role. Someone considering a customer service or client facing work, for instance, should demonstrate a high level of professionalism since they’ll represent the company.

Someone interested in sales might want to represent him or herself as outgoing. Possible indicators, she said, might be the number of friends they have in their networks, or pictures of them in social settings.

According to the Jobvite survey, which also examined recruiter attitudes on social media content, good grammar is more important to potential employers than your political and religious views.

Those with involvement in professional and non-profit organisations got bonus points, it found.


Your profile picture alone can provide reams of information to an employer that won’t be on your resume – such as your race and your age, said Smith.

An eye-tracking study by US job search company, TheLadders, found that recruiters spend 19 per cent of the total time they spend on your profile looking at your picture alone.

This obviously could go for you or against you. You may find you are discriminated against if you do post a profile picture, but if you don’t people, may wonder why.

“Think about what that profile picture says” advised Smith. “Ensure your profile picture reflects the image you’d like to portray to employers.”


Jobseekers will need to ensure they can be found online. A LinkedIn profile is therefore a must, said Smith.

He said social networks make it much easier in the past to connect to the sorts of professionals who best reflect your career goals.

They also make it easier to position yourself as an expert. Participate in LinkedIn discussion forums or engage in Twitter chats to showcase expertise in your field of interest and increase your visibility, Smith suggests.

If you use Twitter socially, he suggested you used a pseudonym.

There are some other new sites popping up like Pinterest, an online pin board that lets you showcase your skills in areas like art, fashion and food, so keep your eye out for new opportunities to plump-up your profile, he suggested.


In order to snare that plumb post, you should employ some of the search engine optimisation techniques that web developers do, said Smith.

Keywords should be used strategically in any public profile that you post as well as any resumes you send, he said, as these are bound to find their way into a recruiter’s database.

He suggested you imagine your ideal job and write down the types of words recruiters would be scanning for. Analyse job advertisements in that field for inspiration, he suggested.

When applying for specific jobs, check out keywords used in the advertisement and on the company’s website.

– Sydney Morning Herald

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