When local businessman Steven Disbrow needed to replace an employee who was moving away, social media and Twitter yielding a quick solution.
“We had one person we hired from Twitter and turned out to be an excellent fit,” Disbrow, of local computer software and website development business EGO Systems, said. “Then he moved away. The day he told me he was leaving, I went out on Twitter.”
Within three days of putting the word out via Twitter, he had other possibilities that led to a hire.
The state’s unemployment rate for July was 9.8 percent, unchanged from the June revised rate, and higher than the national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.
According to Joshua Waldman’s Career Enlightment website, 89 percent of companies will use social networks for recruiting this year, up from 83 percent in 2010.
Waldman wrote “Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies,” and his site also reports that 65 percent of companies have successfully hired someone using social media.
Jean Dake, director of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Placement and Student Employment Center, said members of her office encourage students to create a LinkedIn profile.
It’s also important to use key search words related to the desired industry in a profile, she said.
She has heard from students that they are seeing job postings via sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and the trend will likely increase, she said.
“This is going to be the wave of the future,” she said.
David Moon, founder of the Social Media Alliance of Chattanooga, said he agreed that LinkedIn is an important tool.
“At the very least, maintaining a comprehensive LinkedIn profile in today’s job market is a competitive necessity,” he said via email. “If leveraged properly, a LinkedIn profile can say more than a resume ever could. It’s added value.”
There are several different philosophies about how to utilize social media and for what business benefits.
Local intercultural business consultant Christian Höferle said he hasn’t directly gotten business via social media, but Twitter has helped him create name and recognition and attract attention in his business.
“Initially when I moved to this area, nobody knew me,” he said. “When I started to do the kind of work I do, I started including social media as part of my marketing. I decided to take it online as much as I can. I’m investing my time, not my money. It has helped attract some people’s interest.”
But social media can also hinder the job search, Dake said.
She has heard stories from employers that when they research a potential employee online, finding unflattering information or photos on sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, can prevent a job offer.
“Of course, we encourage them to clean up their Facebook,” she said.
Jon Moss, one of the founders of the Social Media Club in Chattanooga, warned not to be fooled into thinking social networking is a quick fix to the challenge of finding a job.
"You can't create a LinkedIn profile today and expect to find a job tomorrow, just like you shouldn't expect to land a big client by attending your first Chamber of Commerce networking event," he said via email. "It takes time to build connections, cultivate relationships and build trust."
He also said that "in the digital world, trust is achieved, in part, through social proof," which is established by interacting with others online.
According to Waldman’s statistics, 86 percent of employers think candidates should take at least one action to make their profiles more employer-friendly, such as hiding personal photos, omitting political and/or religious views or deleting objectionable wall posts, even if the job seeker isn’t the person who wrote it.
Of the hiring managers who have screened job candidates via social media, 34 percent reported that they found content that caused them to dismiss a candidate for consideration, also according to Waldman.
Disbrow said job seekers should let people know you are looking for a job and that having made good hires using social media, it’s now his “first impulse.”
He also said that his contacts via Twitter helped vet his potential candidates, which made him more comfortable with the hires.
“There’s a certain level of trust there that is built into the process,” he said.