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It’s been said for some time now that a key component of any job hunt is getting the social media side of things done well. This includes making sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, writing a blog and generally getting your name out there online.

I still have my doubts about how potent this approach is, especially for positions that job hunters actively apply for. I suspect that when agents and recruiting managers have a CV to consume they lack the time or inclination to do much research on their interviewees via social media.

New research from North Carolina State University reveals that social networking is incredibly valuable at finding new jobs for people who aren’t necessarily looking for one, which is referred to in the study as ‘informal recruitment’.

This study found that over 1 in 4 of all jobs filled in the US were done so via this form of informal recruitment. Perhaps the most interesting finding is that this ratio increases significantly as the salary of the position rises. In other words, the higher the salary is at stake, the more likely the position is to be filled informally.

The researchers have broken this down into a ratio. They found that the odds of a job being filled by social networks increased by 2% for every dollar paid per hour for the position being filled.

To put that into perspective, a job paying $100,000 a year is 86% more likely to be filled informally than a minimum wage job paying $14,500 a year.

Of course you will be rightly saying that personal networks have always been valuable. After all, the saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know” wasn’t coined at the dawn of the social media age.

It does serve to reinforce the importance of making sure that plenty of people are well aware of your skills and experience, and networking online is a fantastic way of doing that. So if you’re not currently building up your personal brand, be it offline or online, there’s never been a better time to start than now.

Adi Gaskell is a social media professional and management blogger for Professional Manager.

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