Although some companies are beginning to hire new staff, most HR departments are still under severe budgetary constraints. In response managers seeking talented workers are increasingly bypassing standard recruitment tactics — paid recruiters, job boards, subscription job listings, etc. — and are using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to find and qualify candidates.

That’s according to a survey conducted by JCSI, a corporate staffing consulting firm with a vested interest in identifying the breadth of this trend.

JCSI surveyed HR executives and recruiters in a variety of industries to find out how they plan to find and attract the top talent in 2010.

Survey respondents indicated that despite the high volume of available candidates, their biggest challenge is finding qualified candidates. With tight budgets, recruiters are seeking to complete quality hires as quickly as possible. The time it takes to fill an open position ranked as the most important success metric — even topping cost per hire.

While we’ve known that recruiters are using social networks more in their hiring, for instance to investigate candidates and to evaluate candidates based on their socnet postings and pages, this trend appears to be more of a situation where traditional recruiting tools are being supplanted by social networking sites.

When hiring two new entry-level employees recently, I made use of social networking sites, especially LinkedIn, to add another dimension to the two-dimensional resume I’d received. I tried to get a feel for personality — not the easiest thing to glean from a LinkedIn page — and looked for clues that could distinguish the wheat from the chaff, as it were.

As a result of that experience, here are my top six suggestions about how to manage your online professional presence on LinkedIn when you’re searching for a job:

1) Make sure that your page is up to date — I realize that LinkedIn is not much fun and that you’d rather be on Facebook, but it is important to have your information fresh and current.
2) Make sure that your page and your resume jibe — If your employment history doesn’t match up between your resume and your LinkedIn page, that could be an indication that you’re hiding something or, possibly worse, you’re just sloppy.
3) Proofread, proofread, proofread — enough said.
4) Use a professional, and recent, photograph of decent quality — it’s like wearing business attire to an interview, duh! And nobody wants to see your picture from the kegger at the beach last weekend.
5)LinkedIn doesn’t provide much real estate in which to work your writing mojo, but in those places where you can be descriptive, be creative and show a little style.
6) Join appropriate groups and join their conversations — It is, after all, social media. Be judicious in the groups you choose to join. It’s best to select groups related to your desired career, which should, besides giving you an opportunity to learn about the business, enable you to network with people who might be looking for a sharp, savvy candidate.

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