4 ways Social Media Has Changed the Job Hunt:

How many friends or followers you have matters.

And, no, this isn’t a high school thing, a la the cheerleaders look down on the band–it’s a social media thing, and believe it or not, it actually bridges the gap between such diverse groups.

At no time has this been more evident than today; social media has undoubtedly changed life in the 2000s, but it’s also changed how we make that way of life, namely how we find jobs.

The job search process is vastly different today than it was even two years ago. No longer can job seekers solely depend on Monster.com or Careerbuilder for their prospects. They can’t even depend on just face-to-face networking. Rather, they have to think globally when it comes to today’s job search—and that means understanding social media and its new role in the “Get Me Hired” process.

The 4 Ways Job Hunting was changed by Social Media

1. Social media brings different people together who might not have ordinarily found each other. As in the opening example, the cheerleaders and the band don’t “normally” mix, but on social media outlets, people benefit from being somewhat anonymous. Translated to the job seeking crowd, this means a company executive might easily interact with a “junior” level person on Twitter or LinkedIn. Social media doesn’t have restrictions on who can speak with whom; Twitter doesn’t have a test for making sure only C-level professionals communicate with each other. So, a junior level careerist could easily have hundreds of Facebook friends and even thousands of Twitter followers, many at a much higher professional level than himself. The key is for the junior level careerist to create relevant content that appeals to these higher level folks.

2. Social media allows potential job seekers to create opportunities. Job seekers don’t have to fit into a particular mold anymore. They don’t have to necessarily have X years of experience or a degree in Astrophysics, Accounting or Human Resources. They don’t even have to find a way to “spin” the experience they do have. They can create professional opportunities merely by posting or tweeting about what they know best. The more knowledgeable and enthusiastic a person is about something, the more loyal she is to it. Employers want these people, the type who will research and learn in their free time and contribute to the knowledge pool. When potential job seekers blog, post or tweet about subjects they are passionate about, they attract followers (and potential employers).

3. Social media allows employers to seek out talent before they “need” it. The social media also gives employers the opportunity to find people they want to learn more about. They can request resumes and maybe even find talent they didn’t know they needed. Many times, they find potential hires by searching on a particular subject, and once they find someone who knows a great deal about XYZ subject, they reach out to her.

4. Social media lets employers “vet” potential new hires. The best part of social media is that it is free and open to all. The worst part of social media is that it is free and open to all. This means that anyone can post anything. Your Facebook page can be full of pictures of drinking fests with your roommates. Your tweets can openly disparage your current employer. You can say anything. But what you say can and often does get back to potential employers, who are increasingly using social media tools to see what employees are really like outside of the rehearsed, carefully crafted image they present in person.