youtwitfact.jpgWe all need a reality check. And this coming for a gal who admits she needs one as well.

All you hear lately is Twitter this, Facebook that. Social networking sites are popping up everyday and the media, so-called social media gurus, and marketing folks want you to believe that if you’re not tweeting, blogging, or developing your cyber brand you’ll be doomed to die alone, unemployed, and uninformed.

Well, that’s bull. In fact, only 1 percentage of hires made in this country right now have anything to do with cyber social networking. And that’s from the horse’s mouth — hiring managers.

I know Ashton Kutcher uses Twitter all the time, but you’re not Ashton Kutcher.ashton.jpg

I got a press release recently for a social networking site promoting its service to recent grads so I decided to have my intern and soon-to-be grad Diana Gialo check it out and see if it was worth signing up. She looked at the site and didn’t quite get what made it different from sites like LinkedIn, but she was still open to using it if it could help her career once out of college.

One of the things that got us wondering about its importance was how hard it was to tell how many people were using it. She asked one of the people who run the site but he wouldn’t give her any numbers.

So I had Diana make a couple of calls to experts in the social networking field to see what they thought.

The first person said they had a financial relationship with the site owners. We nixed him. The second source spoke to her for some time about the site and other networking offerings, but disclosed at the end of the conversation that he also had a financial interest with the same site.

Ugh! Two individuals who are essentially the experts in the area of social networking were working for a social networking site they tell people to sign up for. I’m telling you all this because I don’t think this is an isolated situation and I want everyone to take everything they read and hear with a grain of salt, even from CareerDiva. The Internet has opened up the door to more information for us all, but sometimes it’s misinformation.

Clearly, unbiased information about the social networking space is hard to come by.

I was so frustrated with the situation my intern encountered that I decided to do a whole column for MSNBC.com on whether any of these sites were really worth it for graduates, or anyone starting out in their careers.

I figured the only unbiased information I could find on this social networking craze was from the people that actually do the hiring.

One hiring manager after another told me it was only a tiny piece of their recruiting methods, and one woman even told me she never looks at a job candidates Facebook page because she assumes that’s personal.

From my column this week on MSNBC.com:

A 2009 poll of large U.S. employers conducted by CareerXroads, a staffing and recruiting company, found that less than 1 percent of external hires — which includes new openings filled by people who are not in-house — could be attributed to social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Among that 1 percent, LinkedIn represented 60 percent of hires. “Despite the hype, hires are not easily attributed to social media,” according to the survey’s authors.

Putting too much time in a job-hunting tool that’s only used by recruiters about 1 percent of the time probably isn’t the best idea. My column includes some job-hunting tips for Gen Y.

Clearly, you shouldn’t be afraid of this social media stuff, especially since many HR folks believe it will be more important a few years from now. For more established employees trying to show their expertise in a certain area, and for people in media, marketing and entertainment, Twitter and the like can be more important. And most recruiters said if you’re going to be on any sites sign up for LinkedIn first and foremost because it’s more professional.

But the bottom line is you still get jobs the old fashioned way — no matter what the gurus tell you.

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