Last weekend, I was honored to be invited to lead a seminar on the use of the social networking site LinkedIn, with a focus on job hunters. The event took place at the Westport Public Library as part of the "Trends in Technology" series.

One of the first points I made was that it's unlikely that people will find their job through job postings on the Internet. Not only are most job postings flooded with hundreds, if not thousands, of responses, but the level of qualified applicants is often quite high given the current poor economy.

So what's a person to do? What is an effective way to use the Internet for job hunting?

The good news is that the Internet enables people to make connections with people and companies that they may have otherwise never known. For example, with various social networking tools, such as LinkedIn, it's easy to find that the parent of your second grade child's friend works at a company you'd like to target.

Many recruiters acknowledge that fewer than 10 percent of all jobs go through them. Most jobs are found by people who locate a job through advertisements or personal connections -- more commonly known as networking.

Regarding LinkedIn, I made a couple of suggestions to the attendees:

First, ensure that your LinkedIn profile represents you in the way you want. This includes the appropriate comments about yourself, your previous employment, your interests and a photo, etc.

Second, stay current in your profession and link your professional work to your LinkedIn profile. For example, if you have a blog, connect your blog postings to your LinkedIn profile. If you attend a conference, put it in your LinkedIn events. In other words, provide evidence of your professional activity in a way that will convey an appropriate message to viewers of your profile.

Recent reports have indicated that hiring managers use social networking sites for two reasons:

First, to locate possible candidates to fill positions; and second, to research possible candidates that have come to the company's attention. Information on the Internet can have a significant impact on a company's interest in a candidate.

But job hunting is not solely an online effort. The bulk of the decision-making is made over the phone or in person.

As mentioned earlier, social networking sites can be excellent ways of finding people you know inside a company of interest to you. That interest could be because of something you know about the company, a position you heard about at the company, or some other reason that would attract you.

Social networking sites can provide you with an inside connection who may be able to help you find information about the company, department, or position. Depending on how well you know the person, they may be able to help you contact the right person or even give a recommendation to an influential person inside the company.

LinkedIn is just one of the social networking sites available; others include Facebook, Spoke, eCademy, and more.

Just last week, a person with whom I had worked had been interviewed for a position at a company. After the interview, he found through my LinkedIn profile that I have a colleague at the company. He reached out to me to see if I would contact that colleague to "put in a good word for him."

Having worked with this candidate before and having previously recommended him on LinkedIn, I was happy to phone my colleague and relay my personal experiences with the candidate. My colleague was not the decision-maker, but said he would pass along the recommendation to the person who is. I don't expect that my recommendation will get the candidate the position, but I do expect that it will help his chances. If so, I expect he'll be buying me lunch.

Mark Mathias, a 30-plus-year veteran of information technology and a resident of Westport, was named by Computer World magazine to their list of "Premier 100 IT Leaders." Contact him through his blog at http://living-with-technology.blogspot.com/