Forget contributing your paper resume to a tower of similar reading samples on some corporate recruiter’s desk, with a smart social media strategy you can place your name and credentials right in front of the people that make the hiring decisions.

The recent boom in social media usage makes it easier than ever for a job seeker to get their resume in front of the right person, but a word of caution for the eager job seeker: if you’re looking for a job using some form of social media, you’d better make sure that every profile you own on every network is free and clear of inappropriate material, photos, comments, etc. Don’t think that recruiters won’t go through your online ‘stuff’ when considering whether to hire you or not. A quick glance through your facebook profile may give a recruiter every reason NOT to consider you for the job.

Once you’ve got your profiles cleaned up and somewhat professional looking, make sure to invest in your online presence on the most appropriate social networking sites. For all intents and purposes I would recommend LinkedIn. It’s the most powerful and well organized networking site out at the moment, and more importantly it’s the site that most professionals use to connect (9 million+ users). For a thorough runaround about how to effectively use LinkedIn, read over this brief post.

After you’ve thoroughly updated your LinkedIn profile and received a few choice recommendations, start reaching out to the appropriate people inside the organization you want to work in. LinkedIn has helpful company profiles of most any company, listing all the employees that are available to you on LinkedIn. Determine the most relevant contact and just send a quick note that you’re interested in learning more about the company over coffee- see how quickly you’ll find yourself in front of the right person without even mailing a resume.

Besides the mammoth professional networking site LinkedIn, there will most likely be more focused niche sites that you should invest time into as well depending on what industry you’re looking to get into, for instance:

NurseLinkup – Nursing
Model Mayhem – Modeling
FohBoh – Restaurant Industry
ActiveRain – Real Estate
Decorati – Interior Design
Fashionising – Fashion
TheBoaters – Boating
TappedIn – Education

The list of niche networking sites is growing/endless – just poke around a little and see what you can find.

There are of course social media sites that are designed specifically for the job seeker, I would recommend two that I’ve explored thoroughly myself; JobFox and VisualCV. These sites allow you to post an extremely thorough resume of your experience and your work, including samples of presentations, articles, or whatever else you’d like to share. Both JobFox and VisualCV are easy to navigate and suggest relevant companies or positions that might be a fit for you.

I would avoid trying to network with employers through casual social media sites such as facebook or myspace, stick to the sites that are designed for professional networking. Additionally, I would suggest sharing your resume on twitter and asking your followers for help locating opportunites. Twitter can be an effective tool for networking, especially for the job seeker. I’ve written previously about how best to utilize twitter if you’re new to it.

When jobs are in short supply, the job seeker needs to search out more creative ways of getting their credentials in front of the right person. Social media provides an effective and easy means of communication – use it!

Job seekers who need an extra boost to their resume might also consider an MBA or a master in organizational leadership from an accredited school, in addition to using social media.

Have your own suggestions for utilizing social media to land a new job? Drop a comment below.