Are you looking for work at the moment and want a competitive edge over other jobseekers? Did you know that businesses no longer just rely on posting traditional job ads online or in newspapers – in fact, 23% of employers surveyed admit to using social media to screen job applicants, and 18% to contact professionals who aren’t actively job seeking.

With stats like this, it’s vital for active jobseekers to be aware of your digital footprint and take steps to establish your professional identity online so that recruiters and potential employers can connect with you about career opportunities. Here’s how to do it:

  • LinkedIn: If you’re not on LinkedIn yet — you should be. LinkedIn is the professional equivalent of Facebook — here, your ‘profile’ isn’t about posting photos of what you did last weekend or funny viral videos — instead it acts as an online representation of your resume and work ethos. Upload your latest CV, fill in the gaps on your bio so that prospective employers who search LinkedIn can see what roles you want to hear about, follow companies you’d like to work for, network with like-minded individuals within your chosen industry via your connections and participate in relevant discussions on group forums.

    Bonus Tip: Use the ‘Ask for recommendation’ section to send requests to your former managers, clients and colleagues asking them to provide written references about your exceptional talent and work ethic. 
  • Twitter: Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know that Twitter is what is known as a ‘micro-blogging’ platform where users can send out regular status updates in the form of tiny 140 character info-bytes. Twitter can be a useful tool in your career on several levels, but the most obvious way to use twitter to find your next job is to think of it as your own personal jobs feed. Search for hashtags (#) of roles you are interested in applying for, tweet to businesses you would like to work for, and follow the twitter handles of recruitment agencies that specialise in your industry.

    Bonus Tip: Update your Twitter bio to let prospective employers know you are looking for work, as well as use the free site Twibbon to overlay a ‘Hire Me’ graphic on your profile picture
  • Facebook: We won’t insult your intelligence by explaining what Facebook is — let’s just take the chance that you aren’t in the population minority who have never heard of this social networking site. That said, while Facebook remains the largest global social network, its main purpose is a space where you interact with your social peers, post photos of things you did on the weekend etc. — which can lead to all sorts of tricky situations where work is concerned. While there are benefits to be had for jobseekers, such as following recruitment companies to hear of their latest roles on offer, just be aware that opening up your profile page to hiring managers to view can have its drawbacks too. As a rule, keep tight control over how much information you allow members of the general public to be able to see by getting well acquainted with your privacy settings.

    Bonus Tip: There’s an alternative to completely shutting out prospective employers: tweak Facebook's privacy settings so that work contacts can only access limited posts by using the 'Friends' tab to create a ‘Work’ list and a ‘Buddies’ list. That way, if people outside your immediate social circle would like to befriend you on Facebook, you can set your photos and updates to show only on ‘Buddies’ feeds.

No matter what network you decide to use to leverage your next career opportunity, there’s no denying the power of social networks. Have you had success looking for work on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? Share your story with us.