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VCN's Denny confirmed that. He said that even with his coaching on how to use social networking sites, he advises people to spend no more than 10% to 20% of their time with online tools. Use them to establish what companies you want to work for. "But then what do you do with these contacts?" he asked. "Find a way to get connected with them. Find a way to get their phone number. Find a way to get a meeting with them. You're not just looking for a job interview, maybe you're looking for an information interview."

e-Executives' Urschel, who also has been helping job seekers in classes through his church, agreed. People feel self-conscious about having to actually contact somebody -- that's not part of their normal process. "They're afraid to do something that's different. But especially in this market right now if you're not doing something that's different, it's incredibly hard to get noticed."

Steve Van Vreede, a former job search coach who developed his own job hunting social network site called, also advocated a balanced approach of cold-calling, conducting informational interviews and networking. "Overall they want to have a balanced approach to the job search. And too many simply post their resume to job sites and hope that that will get them a job. And that is one of the least effective methods that's out there."

Sean Ryan agreed. He's the senior vice president of engineering at Lyris Inc., the company that hired Brennan Carlson. Ryan noted that social networks have vastly changed the job search process, but sometimes "people fall back to the old methods because they've been there so long," referring to the less proactive approach of posting your resume on the Web and waiting to be contacted. He and others in the company use Twitter extensively in their recruiting efforts, and he pointed out the irony that when he refers to the "old methods" he's talking about sites such as and that didn't even exist 15 or 20 years ago.

So How Much Have Things Changed?

"I don't even look at resumes anymore," Ryan said. "You pull up somebody's profile on LinkedIn, you know who they know, you know who's said good things about them. You get a good idea of their background and it's just a great source of information. I've had people come through my office -- my managers and directors -- they'll come through with nothing more than a printed-out profile from LinkedIn. They don't even do a resume."

Ryan said social networking sites have changed the company recruiting process in two ways: personally and on a corporate level. "I'm personally . . . on Facebook, on LinkedIn, I use Twitter. Sometimes I'll track down somebody I've worked with in the past. So it's different than the shotgun approach that you see on or It's all relationship based, and when I go looking it's for a specific skill set with people who understand the skill set."

On the corporate side, he said, Lyris recruits aggressively through social media. "Obviously we Tweet about opportunities that we have available. And we post Tweets and those generate keen interest. Some of those get picked by other parties," which leads to qualified job candidates.

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