Job hunting? Use social networks to make crucial connections

LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can do much more than just let you blow off some steam

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So how much have things changed?

"I don't even look at resumes anymore," Ryan said. "You pull up somebody's profile on LinkedIn, you know who they know, you know who's said good things about them. You get a good idea of their background and it's just a great source of information. I've had people come through my office -- my managers and directors -- they'll come through with nothing more than a printed-out profile from LinkedIn. They don't even do a resume."

Ryan said social networking sites have changed the company recruiting process in two ways: personally and on a corporate level. "I'm personally . . . on Facebook, on LinkedIn, I use Twitter. Sometimes I'll track down somebody I've worked with in the past. So it's different than the shotgun approach that you see on Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com. It's all relationship based, and when I go looking it's for a specific skill set with people who understand the skill set."

Tyler Cooper
Tyler Cooper received his first job offer from a blog.

On the corporate side, he said, Lyris recruits aggressively through social media. "Obviously we Tweet about opportunities that we have available. And we post Tweets and those generate keen interest. Some of those get picked by other parties," which leads to qualified job candidates.

Don't be afraid to reach out

Business analyst Tyler Cooper could be the poster boy for a positive, widespread online presence. He received his first job offer from a blog.

"I was an active participant in a Treo forum and [was] also reading the Treo blogs for the mobile device. And I discovered a company called 3jam. I had some product ideas and suggestions for them so I sent them an e-mail. " He exchanged messages and after some phone conversations Cooper became a summer intern, which turned into staying on for the school year and then "eventually I became a community support manager while I was still in school," Cooper said, "and I was offered a full-time position upon graduation."

However, Cooper didn't accept that offer at 3jam, which deals with SMS text messaging. He chose another job. He's now working for ProSource Solutions in Akron, Ohio, and is contracted to work for NASA on "some infrastructure issues."

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