Virtual job-hunting: Technology fills situations vacant
Looking for a job - or trying to find a new employee? Then prepare for a technological revolution.
New tools, many of them related to the explosion in use of social media, are transforming the recruitment world.
Until recently, the process of seeking a job followed a familiar routine - scan the newspaper recruitment pages, or visit an agency, then despatch your carefully prepared CV (or resume if you're American) in all directions.
Now though, those who want to stand out in a crowded job market are resorting to more sophisticated approaches.
A search on YouTube throws up plenty of examples of the new breed of job-seeker, promoting themselves with video offerings.
Among them is Graeme Anthony, who needed to get a new job in PR in a hurry when he moved from Manchester to London. His YouTube C.V.I.V. - curriculum vitae interactive video - is simple but effective.
He sits behind a table pitching his skills, and then links appear to more videos giving greater detail.
"It brings me to life in a completely new way," he explains, "It shows off my personality in a way a paper CV can't. It's got the wow factor."
It worked. When London's Frank PR agency saw the video, Graeme was quickly invited for an interview, and got the job.
Graham Goodkind, chairman and founder of Frank PR, says he's surprised that so few candidates resort to hi-tech tricks.
"It's always amazed me in this day and age, that when things are moving so quickly from a technological point of view, CVs and resumes are really the same as they were 10, 15 or even 20 years ago.
"So this really opened up our eyes to how it really could be done and we wanted to meet the guy straight away."
The social job network
The other major innovation is the way social networking is becoming integrated into the recruitment process.
We've heard the horror stories of people being refused jobs after potential employers spot drunken pictures on Facebook, but there is a more positive aspect to the use of social media.
One network, LinkedIn, is all about professional rather than personal lives.
It has become the place where jobseekers come to display their wares, and employers check out their credentials. There are rumours that it could soon float, taking advantage of the hype swirling around that other social network, Facebook.
LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, who was also an early investor in Facebook, says companies are learning that social networks can help them find better job candidates.
"I think that the way you both find the right talent and opportunities is through trusted networks," he says, going on to point to studies showing that employees recommended through networks tend to be of a higher quality.
And Reid Hoffman says that for new entrants to the job market, getting your social networking profile in order is vital.
"When you don't have a whole lot of experience it's the right way that you can actually demonstrate that... someone should take a chance on you."
Cutting out the middle-man?
But if job hunters and employers are now speaking directly through social networks, where does that leave the employment agencies and other specialist recruitment businesses?
Isabelle Ratinaud, at Monster.co.uk, a major online recruitment firm, denies that they will become redundant.
"There is no threat from social networks. The only threat is that if we did not know how to use it or how to embrace it and that could become a threat.
"But any company that uses it within their values, within the business that they have, will benefit from social networking."
Some new entrants to the recruitment business are finding they can reach customers with modern techniques. Innovate CV allows job seekers to create multimedia sales pitches for their skills and employers to browse through candidates relevant to their business.
One customer, Jeff Levitansky, has used it while seeking staff for his Chicago-based construction business Keystone Developers. He says he found it more cost-effective than some other recruitment services.
"Traditionally we would be running ads in the newspapers and trade magazines, or going to Craig's List.
"Running an ad involves spending money, involves time writing the ad, waiting for it to go out, fielding phone calls when they decide to call you. With I this can go online when I have the time, when I can concentrate on it and spend the time researching and finding the right guys."
In hard times, selling yourself to potential employers is all the more challenging - but from the other side of the fence it is just as important for businesses to find the right people in a timely and cost-effective way.
So technological change is likely to accelerate - and that means we all may have to learn to wield a video camera and polish up our social networking skills.