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Three days, 20 words, new job

Social networks are speeding up hiring with ‘twésumés’ and other new tricks.

By Amy FarnsworthStaff Writer / August 7, 2009

Jud Guitteau

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Dustin Mitchell tried all the usual job-search strategies. He scanned Internet job boards and newspaper ads, asked friends, and networked with professionals. When nothing seemed to work, he turned to Twitter.

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The social-networking site led him to an opening at an Internet start-up company in San Francisco. Later that Friday, he was tweeting with an employee at the company, who asked him to come in for an interview. On Monday, he was hired.

“In a recession there are a ton of people applying for a job,” Mr. Mitchell says. “I wanted to be the first one in, the fastest one in.”

Mitchell is one success story in the 21st-century job hunt, where carefully crafted cover letters and crisp, white résumés are giving way to social-media networking, Twésumés (personal bios chopped up into 140-character tweets – about 20 words), and Twinterviews (interviews conducted on Twitter). The technology is helping to speed up the hiring process and, for some, allow job seekers to cut through red tape to link directly with recruiters and hiring managers.

These tools have “leveled the playing field,” says Dan Schawbel, author of “Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success.” “Instead of submitting a résumé to a black hole – a job board – you can connect with someone who can hire you.”

After Kyle Flaherty left his job at a public-relations agency in Boston, he posted blog entries and tweets saying he was looking for a PR position. The virtual updates caught the eye of a friend who put him in touch with a handful of potential employers in Austin, Texas. Using Twitter, Mr. Flaherty set up an interview with BreakingPoint Systems, a network development company, and researched the firm. Within a week, he was hired.

“At the end of the day, there’s nothing revolutionary about it,” says Flaherty, BreakingPoint’s new director of marketing. “It’s just a new form of networking.”

And a new way to screen potential employers.

When Alexa Scordato wanted to move from New York to Boston, she started following the Twitter feeds of social-media companies to monitor their activity. Frustrated by job boards, she sent a message to the vice president of social-media company Mzinga, which provides businesses with social-media software solutions. She landed an interview and a full-time consultant position in less than three weeks.

How many people have found work through social networks isn’t clear. But a rising number of people are looking for employment there.

“I think [using social networks] is a way to find jobs that aren’t posted on big job banks,” says Alison Doyle, author of “Internet Your Way to a New Job: How to Really Find a Job Online.”

Since 2005, the percentage of US adults logging onto social-networking sites – including Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn – has soared from 8 percent to 35 percent, according to a January 2009 Pew/Internet report. And it’s not just to socialize. More than a quarter of those users are logging on for professional reasons.

On LinkedIn, home to more than 40 million users, job searches were up 48 percent in February compared with the same period last year, according to company spokeswoman Krista Canfield.