If you're a busy adult enrolled in an online degree program, chances are you've been in the work world for a while. But you probably have some sort of career move in mind: to advance with your current employer or maybe it's to change career fields altogether.

If it's been some time since you've waded in the job market pool – polished a resume or prepped for an interview, you need to know that things have changed.

A lot.

Not only is it more difficult to find a job these days, but there's a powerful job-hunting tool that has become indispensable to success.

Social media.

The 21st century job search

According to Saint Leo University's Nancy Cheek, career services advisor for online students, increased competition for fewer positions has enabled hiring managers to be more selective. "So it has become much more important for job seekers to put themselves out there – to create an online presence so that they can be found by employers."

Cheek says there are myriad ways to do that.

"Targeting companies where you want to work. Following them on social media. Learning about their business and what they are looking for in employees. Connecting with their thought leaders. And making yourself the type of person they want to have come work for them."

In other words, by creating your personal brand through social media.

Social media's pervasive power

Michael Dadez is Saint Leo's social media manager. It's a job he says he could never have even imagined when he graduated from Saint Leo 10 years ago.

In less than a decade, Dadez has seen social media progress from a casual way for friends to connect to a formidable, global power for individuals, business and organizations to drive action and foster change.

"The power of social media is astounding," says Dadez. "Time and again, you hear about people posting a heartfelt need on social media without looking for anything in return, and the world has responded with overwhelming support."

The power of social media is a game-changer for job seekers, as well.

"You can literally get or lose a job in a single, casual comment in a post," says Dadez, "like saying on Facebook that you're not crazy about working with children after interviewing for a position at a day care center."

Job seekers' social media imperative

"Clearly, hiring managers do not want to find anything negative about you online," says Cheek.

On the other hand, they expect you to be using technology and engaging on social media, she says. "If they can't find you in a Google search, it's a red flag. They may wonder if you're even comfortable using a computer if you don't show up online."

We are all limited, however, on the amount of time and energy we have to direct toward the numerous professional platforms available – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and more.

According to Cheek, the good news is that your online presence does not need to be complex. "You don't need to be spending hours a day on social media, but you do need to be strategic about the action you are taking."

For example:

  • Have you considered something as simple as hyperlinking your resume to your LinkedIn account?

  • With the average recruiter spending less than one minute on your LinkedIn profile, think about adding media to increase attention span.

  • What about creating an online portfolio to showcase your work?

  • Or following an industry leader on Twitter and retweeting their tweets or joining industry chats?

Free e-book: "10 Tips for Using Social Media to Get Hired"

Whether you're just getting started using social media in your job search, or you're fairly savvy user, you will find some practical tips in a new e-book available through Saint Leo University's Center for Online Learning.

Titled "10 Tips for Using Social Media to Get Hired," the e-book includes insight into:

  • Cleaning up your social profile
  • Creating a professional online image

  • The single, most-important social media platform for job seekers

  • How to be active, but not too active, on social media

According to Cheek, because employers today have their pick of candidates for any given job, looking for a job becomes a part-time job unto itself.

"There's no easy way to get a job. There are multiple layers to the process that includes all of the traditional methods – going to career fairs, meeting people at professional events, networking over lunch.

And while everyone is more comfortable with certain methods than others, all are unique and indispensable to a job search, according to Cheek.

Including social media.

Grab some practical tips on using social media in your job search. Download the free e-book "10 Tips for Using Social Media to Get Hired" now.

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