RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Anyone looking for a job for the first time in a few years will find times have changed. Forget printing resumes on high-quality bond paper, but one might want to think about what your email address says about you. Nowadays, the first step in applying for jobs is knowing the new rules of recruitment. Here's NPR's Yuki Noguchi.
YUKI NOGUCHI: If you think having a social networking presence online is just for kicks, think again.
Mr. GLENN KELMAN (CEO, Redfin Online Real Estate Brokerage): I've got 10, 20 friends who are out of work and I say well, listen, this is what you need to do. You need to go onto LinkedIn and ask everyone you know to write you a recommendation.
NOGUCHI: Glenn Kelman is CEO of an online real estate brokerage called Redfin. He says digital profiles aren't kids' play. They're a critical tool he relies on to recruit and vet candidates. He says things have changed so much, in fact, that what was once optional, like having a blog, might for some jobs now be essential. And things that used to be considered essential now can look bad.
Mr. KELMAN: If someone sends us a paper resume folded in thirds, stuffed in an envelope, it's hard for us to take it seriously.
NOGUCHI: This is especially true among those looking for positions in high-tech, although the shift in practices are also changing other industries. Kelman's professional pet peeves now include husband-and-wife joint email address. He also admits to a particular bias against AOL addresses.
Mr. KELMAN: I shouldn't look down my nose at that, but I think, get with the program. AOL was so 1998.
NOGUCHI: Kelman says LinkedIn and Facebook give employers more context about a person. A profile includes work history as well as professional contacts. And your associations are like tacit recommendations. Also, it's easier to poach talent from rivals just by searching by company. Ben Elowitz is chief executive of Wetpaint, a 50-person software firm. He's used social networks to find job candidates, then get his own references from their former co-workers.
Mr. BEN ELOWITZ (Chief Executive, Wetpaint): It's the quickest way to save an hour, is to ask somebody a two-minute question ahead of time: Is this somebody you would hire again? And even beyond saving an hour, I should say it saves you from a bad hire.
NOGUCHI: Indiscriminate use of technology can also backfire. Digital outreach has its own etiquette. Elowitz says emails written in all capital letters, for example, attract the wrong kind of attention. He also abhors random emails from jobseekers he doesn't know.
Mr. ELOWITZ: It's disrespectful, I think, to basically be spamming an executive who already gets too much email. And it doesn't show any nuance or appreciation, so it doesn't make me think that they're going to be successful.
NOGUCHI: One wonders about the potential ageism implicit in these new rules. After all, one doesn't have to be very old to feel old in this new regime. When I was in college, Facebooks were actual books. A decade ago, career counselors still preached paper resumes, and the navy blue suit was standard interview protocol. But even what I think of as traditional dark-suit industries are going the new way.
Ms. PAT CASSADY (Human Resources, UMB Financial): We get very few paper resumes.
NOGUCHI: Pat Cassady is a 20-year human resources veteran who works for UMB Financial, a Missouri-based bank. Ten to 12 percent of her hires these days come in through LinkedIn. She even plans to start using the microblogging site Twitter to reach out to potential recruits. She says the digitization of recruiting has made her job both easier and tougher than it used to be. She combs through far more applicants; nearly 1,200 people apply through UMB's Web site every month. But specialized sites also make it easier for her to target searches for exactly the kind of candidate she's after.
Ms. CASSADY: I probably am not going to find a leader of a business division on Monster Career. I'm going to need to use some other tools like Executnet or Netshare or Ladders as well as the Zoom and LinkedIn.
NOGUCHI: If you're dead set on sending her a paper resume, Cassady says go ahead. She'll just ask you to resend it in digital form.
Yuki Noguchi, NPR News.