Are Job Seekers Using Social Media to Find Jobs?

To say Australians love social media is an understatement of the highest order; we lead the world in social media usage.

There seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence that job seekers are using social media to look for employment opportunities and in some instances actually land a new job. In fact, a growing number of career advisors are encouraging the use of social media. In addition, the idea of using social media to promote one’s ‘personal brand’ is increasingly becoming popular. But, are Australians using social media to find jobs? If so, how widespread is the practice?

A study by Nielsen found that most Australians (54%) prefer to use classified sites or job boards to find employment related information, while only 1% choose social networks (source: Nielsen Social Media Report, Wave 3, 2009:2010).

Most Valued Sources of Information for finding a jobimage

Our study of executives in Australia found that social media accounts for only a small percentage of successful job hunt (refer chart below). LinkedIn ranked eighth in the list of successful channels to find jobs as opposed to #1 for recruitment firms.

In theory, social media offers compelling reasons for job seekers to embrace it. If your network is large and you have a rich digital footprint the chances of being found or finding a job increases. Without doubt it offers new channels to reach out to employers, and appears to reward those willing to take risk. Perhaps, serendipity also plays a role in landing a new job.

But the learning curve is steep. Social connections and networks require nurturing over a period of time before any results can be seen. It’s very difficult to wake one fine day and decide you want to use social media to find a job and meet with immediate success. Besides, there is really no one correct way of using the medium. Part of the reason why job boards are still popular is because there is a proven universal way of using it, and it requires little or no investment of one’s time.

How social media is embraced also vary across different industries and demographic groups. Professionals in sectors like PR, marketing and advertising are more likely to utilise social media for hunting jobs, because they use the medium for their daily work. Social media seems to reward early adopters. Perhaps, professionals white collared workers are more likely to use social media then say blue collared workers.


Overall, it appears, for now, that finding a job using social media and using social media to find talent are two different things. In other words social media favours a recruiter much more than it favours a job seeker, mainly because recruiters are early adopters of tools that will give them an advantage. In a social media world it is much easier to be found than to find a job.

What augurs well for social media is the fact that most job seekers are interested in building their ‘personal brand’. Our survey of high-income earners found an overwhelming 90% thinks it’s important to promote their own personal brand as opposed to the employer’s. And without doubt social media tools are a God-send for anyone willing to develop and promote their personal brand.

So, for now it appears using social media to successfully find a job is not widespread. The question is how long before job seekers start to learn how to use social media effectively. The future may be a different story.


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