How often do you update your Facebook status? Or Tweet your latest revelation about your industry? How savvy are your social media skills? I ask because these skills are becoming increasingly useful for finding and landing jobs.

Social media job searching is no joke. It’s happening and there are plenty of success stories to prove it.

Brian Ward, featured in a 2009 article titled Using Twitter and Facebook to find a job, lost his job on a Friday afternoon. “Eleven days later he had a new job.” He found it through a connection on Facebook.

Then there’s Alex Brownstein, the clever and ambitious job seeker who took out Google Advertisements for the names of industry executives he aspired to work for. When the executives Googled their names, an advertisement appeared at the top of the search list. When they clicked on the Ad they received a note from Mr. Brownstein informing them of his aspirations.

I know, Google Ad purchasing isn’t entirely related to social networking, but Brownstein introduced a new and interesting way to network and connect online with the people he hoped would hire him.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, are all tools that companies, recruiters, and job seekers are using to find jobs, post jobs, and seek out potential candidates. Sure some of the opportunities that arise out of social media are serendipitous, like the bloggers that have landed book or movie deals, but it happens.

Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are networking tools. They are designed to connect you with friends, family, and employers.

They help you extend your reach. When you let people know you’re looking for work, they let their friends know, and so on and so on. By using social media to assist your job search you are potentially casting the widest global net you possible can.

So how does it work? How do you make the most of these sites? There is no doubt they can be a tad bit intimidating when starting out, but the good thing is, it’s not rocket science.

Here are some tips that will help you get started:

1. Create a social media plan: Social media is about being friendly and social, but you are also creating an online presence. You want people to know you’re friendly, but also professional, and knowledgeable about your industry. Be careful what you post and embed a professional looking picture.

2. Get the word out: Don’t be shy, let people know you’re looking for work. Update your status on facebook, tweet about the type of work you’re seeking, create a blog and write about what it is you can offer an employer. Also, join LinkedIn groups and connect with people in your industry.

3. Search Twitter for job postings: According to Baseline Magazine, Twitter hashtags (#, the pound symbol) are key to conducting job searches on Twitter since “the pound sign aggregates tweets relating to a topic. Search tweets by using keywords #resumes, #networking, #jobseekers etc.”

4. Set expectations early and give people a reason to follow you: Jacob Share, in his Beginner guide to finding a job with Twitter suggests that “before you have any followers, twitter a handful of messages to set expectations and give people a taste of what they’ll see when they follow you”. Baseline Magazine suggests tweeting a minimum 15 tweets per week, to a maximum of 20.

5. Be accessible: whether through a blog, Facebook, twitter, or LinkedIn, update your status, let people know what’s happening with your search, and always let them know how they can contact you. Also, keep your resume and profile information on LinkedIn up to date!

The best part of creating a social media job search plan is that you’re not only building on your entire job seeking strategy, you are also gaining valuable skills. Who knows, you may end up landing a job as a social media expert.