If you’re not among the lucky few who get headhunted, looking for a new job means having engage in some ‘personal marketing’. Traditionally, the three main ways of doing this are by responding to jobs you see advertised, registering with a recruitment agent, or speculatively punting out CVs and covering letters.

However, get your approach wrong, and rather like a meteorite hitting Earth’s atmosphere, you’re likely to just bounce off into obscurity. CVs never reach the intended recipient, cover letters are never read and your application simply vanishes in the crowd.

Of course, there are techniques and methods for standing out, but they’re often gimmicky, or only retain their freshness until everyone else does the same … then the crowd just relocates. But in recent years, a new opportunity has arisen for anyone looking to present themselves in the best way to either their existing employer or a prospective one … and that’s through leveraging the power of social media.

Derided by some as being a lightweight confection and for wasting time, properly used, social media offers a personal marketing platform that’s hard to beat as a tool for self-promotion. However, as yet it’s not something many corporate professionals incorporate into their short-term thinking and that could damage their long-term employment prospects.

Today, any professional who wants to remain in demand and to be suitably rewarded for their skills and talents really needs to consider making the most of online social media platforms like Google+ and LinkedIn; as well as running their own personal website and, even better, having a regular blog to showcase their expertise.

So what exactly are the benefits of putting together such a personal social media strategy?

  1. Employers, recruiters and headhunters are now looking at relevant social media sites and online profiles more and more to identify the candidates they want for open posts. If you don’t have any form of online presence, you won’t be found and that could put you at an increasing disadvantage.
  2. Unlike paper-based CVs, resumes and job histories, which are difficult to update and change with considerable reformatting, online profiles are much easier to amend, add to and revise and turn into what is effectively a ‘living CV’ of you and your achievements.
  3. Your online profile can be far more comprehensive and inclusive – no need to stick to just a side or two of A4. Better still, you can create a promotional vehicle for yourself that is far more multi-dimensional than a paper CV. For instance, you can include articles and blogs you’ve written, and even audio or video posts. All these help demonstrate not just the quality of your ideas, but also your thought leadership, providing reassurance that you have depth and are able to deliver value.
  4. You can also use LinkedIn and Google+ to help build your personal brand, and to become recognised in cyberspace for your views and expertise. This will raise your visibility and potentially make you a ‘first port of call’ when employers are looking for professionals with your background and experience.
  5. As the whole point and purpose of platforms such as LinkedIn is to build quality connections (though many mistakenly opt for quantity first), you should take the opportunity they offer to build a network of powerful relationships which used strategically can open up many otherwise closed doors.
  6. The very fact that you are making the effort to create an online profile means you are exhibiting the proactivity that employers are looking for. It also demonstrates that you are adaptable, willing to embrace new ideas and understand the importance of using the latest technologies to bring greater value to all that you do.
  7. Once your online profile is up and running, you have effectively created 24/7 visibility for yourself, which means anybody, anywhere and at any time can find out more about you, so maximising the range of opportunities available. Better still, if others are interested in what you have to offer, they can make contact directly with you via email, Skype or phone.
  8. Being able to build your social media capital by regularly adding to and developing your online presence can be highly motivational, as it gives you a focus that helps you build your ‘career momentum’ long-term. The need to have ‘online visibility’ will spell the end of the ‘static’, ‘old’ fashioned CV. If you don’t want to be left behind, make sure that you are embracing technology to build your social media capital and you will reap the rewards.