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Expat & International Careers: Social Media is Potentially 6 Times More Influential than a CV or Resume in Hiring

Megan Fitzgerald, Expat & International Career Coach, shares how important social media is to your international job search.

How important is social media to people building expat or international careers?


Back in August of 2009 I blogged about the fact that social media is not a fad - its here to stay. It's not only changing the way that we communicate, it's changing how we manage our careers and run and market our businesses.  

In that blog post I shared a video by Erik Qualman, author of the international best seller, Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, entitled the Social Media Revolution.

Flash forward almost two years and Qualman has created an updated version of the video: Social Media Revolution 2011.

Updated statistics reported in the new video:

  • If Facebook were a country it'd be the world's 3rd largest (up from 4th two years ago)
  • 90% of people trust peer recommendations and only 14% trust advertising (up from 78% - advertising remained the same)
  • E-readers surpass traditional books sales (up from 35% of books sold are for a kindle two years ago)

Indeed, social media is more than here to stay. It is an absolutely critical tool to anyone serious about reaching their professional or business goals.

I think a quote from Erik says it best: "We don't have a choice on whether we do social media. They question is how well we do it."


There are many ways in which social media can help you professionally. The way I'd like to highlight today is in the second bullet point above: "90% of people trust peer recommendations and only 14% trust advertising".

What does that mean exactly for the international job seeker?

Let's suppose that your career marketing documents (CV, resume and many others addendums) are a form of "advertising" what you have to offer (It's us speaking about ourselves.). And let's say that Linkedin recommendations, online endorsements and sharing or retweeting your words and work are all forms of "peer recommendations". Given this and the aforementioned statistic, social media potentially has over 6 times the power of your CV, resume and other marketing materials to influence someone to hire you.

Let me repeat that.

Social media potentially has more than 6 times the power of your CV, resume and other marketing materials in influencing someone to hire you. 

That's something worthy of taking seriously.

There are those that may not agree with my mapping of CVs and resumes to "advertising" and endorsements and sharing your words and ideas online to "peer recommendations". However I think few would argue against the idea that not using social media as a tool in your job search is shutting yourself out from the most attractive and exiting jobs overseas.


Reality for today's international job seeker is just different. Employers are not likely to see your CV or resume until they've read information about you online through a referred link or a google search. A recent Microsoft international study showed 85% of employers and recruiters reported they will use social media more than any other tool in recruiting talent in 2011. So research backed data supports the what we've been seeing in practice for some time. Resumes and CVs are no longer the door openers they once were.

Add this to the fact that 75% of jobs are never advertised. Those accessing those opportunities are being recommended by colleagues, professional acquaintances and fellow staff. More often than not they are sharing the link to the recommended person's Linkedin (or other network) profile rather than asking them for their resume or CV to forward on.

Don't get me wrong - a strong, branded resume, CV and other marketing materials are absolutely critical in securing jobs. They provide important information about the top recommended candidates to decision makers. And they provide material to guide an interview. However, it will be your branded online presence and the conversations you'll have via social media that will most often lead to you getting noticed and even considered for a job in the first place.

Without opening doors and attracting opportunities through building your personal brand and networking with social media, the most stellar resume or CV in the world is not necessarily going to help you get noticed in today's highly competitive global marketplace. 


EXPAT AND INTERNATIONAL CAREER  SUCCESS TIP: Are you a current or aspiring expat looking to get noticed or attract the right opportunities to accelerate your international career? Are you using social media as part of your international job search?

If so, are you using it strategically or sporadically without clear strategy or goals? If you are using it without measurable objectives, your success tip is to set some goals and create a social media strategy that will maximize the impact you have online and help you get you where you want to go professionally.

If you are not using social media, then your success tip is to make a commitment to learn about a top network or social media tool most relevant to your target audience. It is critical to understand the power of these tools and how to best leverage them to secure work abroad before taking action.