When Melissa Mihelich recently found herself out of work, she decided to try a new strategy in her job search.
Using a free website, she created cool color graphics to showcase her skills, experience and even a recommendation. Then, instead of mailing a traditional resume to potential employers, she emailed an infographic resume.
"I'm one of those people who's always looking for something new and different," said Ms. Mihelich, who was laid off Jan. 25 from her marketing director job. "It was a nice snapshot of who Melissa Mihelich is as director of marketing."
More job seekers like her are trying alternative ways to share their resumes and portfolios as hiring and job searching shifts more and more to the Internet. They've shelved the linen paper and manila envelopes in favor of Twitter, blogs and LinkedIn.
Some recruiters and career center managers say they began seeing "social resumes" in 2009, but the trend has really taken off in the last two years.
"It's a numbers game," said Guy Davis, assistant director of Southern Methodist University's Hegi Family Career Development Center. "Just sending application after application to job listings doesn't give you great results."
A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 41 percent of new college graduates in 2012 used social media to look for work, up from 7 percent in 2008. They also used social resumes online instead of mailing traditional resumes to prospective employers.
Dan McMillan, 23, a recent graduate of Southern Methodist University, has not printed or mailed one traditional resume as part of his job search, which began last summer in Dallas and continues from his hometown of Chicago. He posted his resume and looks for work mainly on the professional network site LinkedIn.
The use of -- and response to -- social resumes depends more on the job level and type of industry than a job candidate's age, said Ashley Waggoner, regional vice president of Robert Half International's technology and creative group in North Texas. Social resumes are more likely to be used in the Web development world than in the private equity or banking industries, she said.
Job seeker Ms. Mihelich said the feedback has been positive and her infographic resume has led to three interviews.
Employers also are adapting to social resumes.
Wells Fargo doesn't "really take paper resumes anymore" for the roughly 8,000 job openings it posts each month -- ranging from a bank teller job to people who lease farmland to jobs in the gaming industry, said Aaron Kraljev, employment branding manager for the San Francisco-based bank.
"The ways people choose to make themselves stand out is amazing," he said. "We've seen some pretty amazing infographics and video resumes via YouTube. We've even had people copy and paste a resume into a comment on a Facebook page, which raises privacy issues. We'll take that down, but we like their excitement."
Innovative Southwest Airlines Co. prefers people to apply for jobs through its career site and not send resumes through social media, spokesman Brooks Thomas said. That's partly because the Dallas-based airlines is a federal contractor and must follow certain protocol, he said.
Last month, 30-year-old Antwane Davis of Keller, Texas, landed a job as a Wells Fargo mortgage underwriter after being laid off from a similar job two weeks earlier. He posted his resume on LinkedIn and looked for work on Craigslist, Facebook and Google. "It saves time and money, and the results are better," Mr. Davis said of social media.