Whether you have a great job, a less than great job, or are among the 12.7 million Americans still unemployed, becoming social media savvy could help you further your career – or even find a new one. Why? Because an increasing number of businesses, both large and small, are utilizing social media to connect with new customers, interact with current ones, drive traffic to their websites (or through their front doors) – and, ultimately, increase company revenue.

The statistics related to social media are actually quite astonishing. As of 2011, there were more than 800 million active Facebook users. Eighty percent of Americans participate in some form of social networking, including Facebook and Twitter. And, according to data from CrowdSPRING, 61 percent of small businesses regularly land new customers through social media engagement.

This increase in social media usage by companies means an increased need for employees with social media savvy. More employers now expect job applicants to know how to use social media including Facebook (for more than saying “hi” to mom), Twitter (for more than “following” Snooki) and Pinterest (for more than “pinning” funny pictures of cats). As a result, the resumes of job applicants with social media skills may find their way to the top of the pile when hiring managers post open positions.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, since 2010, the number of jobs listed on one major job board in the mobile, social media, web development and social-app gaming categories increased 140 percent. WANTED Analytics also reports that demand for employees with social media skills has increased rapidly within the fields of marketing, public relations, sales, web development, advertising, recruiting, financial services, law, graphic design, social services, community services, retail, human resources and computer software engineering.

Even the medical field is getting in on the act. Both my dentist and my dermatologist have Facebook pages. My dentist also tweets. He uses both social media platforms to maintain contact with current clients. He also offers quarterly entry into a drawing for various prizes – become a Facebook “fan,” follow his Tweets, or refer a new patient and you’re entered. As a result, he reports ten times as many new client referrals as before he began using social media.

If you feel your social media skills are lacking, it may be worth your time to upgrade them. From websites devoted to social media marketing tips, to thousands of books on social media subjects, to free webinars and seminars offered by social media strategists, the knowledge is yours for the taking. Or ask a social media savvy friend to show you around online. It’s easier than you think to get started and you may make some valuable connections for your career.

This post was contributed by Angela Rose. Angela researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for Hcareers.com