In a world of LinkedIn and other social media sites as well as personal web pages, what role do traditional resumes and cover letters now play? The answer to that question is complex.

linkedin-logoWhile it is true that social media and personal web pages are changing the landscape of job search and providing additional avenues for recruiters to learn about job seekers’ skills, what remains constant is the need for a good, basic marketing strategy. Marketing terms like Reach, Frequency and Message apply, not only in the world of advertising, but also in the job search.

A job-search marketing plan will include ways to Reach as broad an audience as possible with job seekers’ Message on a Frequent basis.

Let’s define the audience. The audience is any recruiter, hiring manager or potential networking contact. All 3 of these groups will want insight into job seekers’ skills/competencies and value-added accomplishments over the course of their careers.

LinkedIn, Facebook Google+ and other social media profiles, as well as personal web pages, will Reach any of the above groups who actively participate in those platforms and are there looking to engage with candidates. Profile updates that automatically Reach a target audience achieve the Frequency objective, as well.

But candidates can’t forget about recruiters who, perhaps because of their comfort level or maybe because of the size and sophistication of the hiring organization, tend toward more traditional approaches to learning about available talent. They are often part of organizations whose recruiting methodology includes web-based talent acquisition and recruiting software. Such software provides candidates the opportunity to extend their Reach and Message by typing in their employment history and uploading both cover letters and resumes.

Cover letters and resumes are very often the front door, the first impression a candidate conveys that motivates the recruiter or hiring manager to want to know more. They act in concert with personal networking and social media to convince recruiters that the candidate may merit an interview.

Cover letters and resumes should complement one another. The resume provides a comprehensive look at skills, experiences and accomplishments, while the cover letter focuses the Message toward the needs and expectations of the hiring organization.

The cover letter draws the parallel between the job description and the individual’s background in concise, focused terms. It acts as an extension of the job seeker’s Message.

Having decided that the candidate is a potential fit, recruiters and hiring managers may look to social media and personal web pages for additional information on interests, professionalism, style and personality.

The bottom line? A well structured job-search marketing plan will provide recruiters, hiring managers and networking contacts with multiple vehicles for learning about an individual’s skills. A job seeker’s Message should be conveyed verbally through personal networking—either in-person or through social media vehicles—as well as through a well-written cover letter and resume.

In the world of job search marketing campaigns, a comprehensive approach to Reaching the target audience with a customized Message on a proactive and Frequent basis will lead to success.

What is your personal experience with using social media for search? Have you found success this way? Or have you found that a traditional cover letter-resume approach is more effective?

Kathie’s professional background encompasses 30 years in human resources management and organizational development in corporate and operational environments. She has been affiliated with a major healthcare system as well as companies in the defense, medical products, media and insurance industries. Kathie consults in career transition, as well as on a variety of HR and OD projects, including performance management, employee engagement, leadership development, competency-based career development, leading across generations and dysfunctional work groups.  She earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Missouri St. Louis and is certified as a DDI professional and leadership development facilitator. She can be reached at

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