Job searching in a social media age

A person clicks on a computer mouse

Steve Chiotakis: The job market has warmed up for tech companies. They're competing with one another to hire a lot of workers. In many other professions, though, it's still a long-shot to even get an interview.

But to help job-seekers get an edge, new social-media tools are popping up everywhere.

From the Entrepreneurship Desk at Oregon Public Broadcasting, Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman reports.


Mitchell Hartman: Back in 2006, I was hiring a communications manager at the college where I worked, and I had to slog through a mountain of resumes and cover letters -- actual paper ones -- and check references -- on the phone.

Fast forward to 2009. Amy Reinhart is laid off from her job in research operations at Harvard University, where she'd worked for more than a decade.

Amy Reinhart: Everything had changed, and cover letters went out of style -- you were told not to use them because no one reads them. And then of course there's LinkedIn, which has been incredibly useful. I've been able to reconnect with a lot of people that I've lost track of, who are colleagues from the past.

One of those colleagues helped Reinhart find a management job. LinkedIn's good for that because you can post your profile -- more or less your resume -- then point professional contacts to it.

Reinhart stayed at that job for less than a year, then recently got laid off again. This time she's not just using LinkedIn. She's combining social media apps.

Reinhart: I was actually contacted by a recruiter via Twitter. You know, these things are really working.

The entire process of job search and recruitment is shifting into social media mode. New online tools integrate sites like LinkedIn and Facebook into a web of H.R. applications. They allow professionals and companies to meet, greet and size each other up.

Tim Wolters: What is H.R. 3.0? You know, hiring has always been a social activity.

Tim Wolters heads up RoundPegg, based in Boulder, Colo. The firm offers an online psychological test that assesses your personality and management style. Based on that, it can match you up with companies whose culture you're likely to fit into, say, places looking for risk-takers.

Wolters: When you submit a resume, it won't necessarily fall into the Internet abyss never to be seen again. The job-seeker will not only have the ability to network in to the right people, but will also have the ability to filter through companies and be more selective.

Another site, called Gild, hosts online computer games that test programming skills. When tech workers apply for jobs online, they can point to their high scores.

And that part about connecting directly to the right people within a company, another start-up -- Jibe.com -- is working that angle.

Joe Essenfeld: You might throw like "financial analyst, New York, New York," and you can find jobs at Bank of America, or CitiGroup, Wells Fargo.

CEO Joe Essenfeld and I are pretending I've given up reporting, and I'm using Jibe to land a job as a financial analyst.

Essenfeld: It would search your Facebook network for people who either currently work at Bank of America, or who used to work there, to attach directly on your application.

Sites like Jibe and another called BranchOut leverage Facebook friends into job references. In my case, though, the people I know at New York banks -- well, it's mostly guys I went to rowdy parties with in high school. Best keep my personal and professional networks separate in this case.

Executive recruiter Kelley Pecis says these new applications are a good way to begin a job search.

Kelley Pecis: And whether you use a tool like LinkedIn or some of these other sites to get connected with people, I think that's a good start. But I don't think anything beats the face-to-face: Spending time talking with people, meeting for coffee, learning about what they're working on, learning about how your skills can help their company.

Meaning, you'll still need a nice suit, strong handshake, good eye contact and talking points. In other words, analog skills for a digital age.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace Money.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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