PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – Being laid off from work may seem like a bad thing for most people, but one Plano man says losing his job was the best thing that ever happened to him.

He turned a bad situation into a life-changing experience – all by reinventing himself using social media.

Mike Merrill, of Plano, is a bit of a modern day renaissance man. Two years ago, though, he found himself on the chopping block of his sales job at Dell.

“I remember the day like it was yesterday,” Merrill said, remembering the day he was laid off.  “The reality is, I’m in a much better place.”

He’s built his new life – what he calls his personal brand – all through social media.

“I’m my own case study in leveraging social media to build a personal brand and to transition careers,” Merrill said.

He’s now one of the most sought-after social media professionals in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. His career transition was so successful that his story was featured in a recent Fortune Magazine article.

“It’s opened a whole new world of opportunities for folks,” he said of social media.

Now he’s helping others who’ve suddenly found themselves back on the job market navigate their way through the social media maze.

“Your resume is no longer a piece of paper anymore,” Merrill said. “It’s the Google results of your name.”

He says these findings will be the first thing recruiters or hiring managers see.

“Make sure the stuff that shows up is the stuff you want to control and own,” he said.

Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will usually rank high on the list, so Merrill says to make sure profiles are all up to date.

Be sure to add key words to the profiles – words that will jump out to someone hiring.  He gave the example of a person applying for a mechanical engineering position wanting to include words like design and hydraulic in their profile.

“See what those companies are putting in their job requirements, and then make sure that your LinkedIn profile has the key words and requirements that matches those job descriptions,” Merrill said.

Be active online – talk about yourself and aspects of your life so potential employers can learn a little more about your personality.

Post work-related content on all the personal sites at least once a day, such as links to articles or blogs within the field.

“You may not be a copywriter or a professional writer, but you have an opinion and you have thoughts,” said Merrill.

And, begin generating original content, too, by starting a blog, Merrill says. Write about current expertise and display goals for the next job.

“There’s so many things you can write about, but try to align that with your passion or where you want to go in your career,” Merrill said.

Social media is all about making a connection. In his case, it took a simple status update on his LinkedIn profile to get the ball rolling.

“It was interesting, I posted something on LinkedIn that said something to the effect of ‘Hey, I’m a free agent, who wants me?’,” he said.

And, days later, a former customer of his reached out, and his new consulting career began.

“It’s always been about who you know, and in this world you can leverage social media to make those connections,” Merrill said.

Connect to everyone you can – whether they’re in the same field or not.  Merrill says users may never know who might hold the key to their future job.

“Every time you meet offline or face to face, connect to them online,” he said.

Merrill said using LinkedIn to find a particular job is a good way to use the service. Find someone who has a similar position and see what they have on their profile.

That may help figure out how to align the individual profile and experience to get into a position to be noticed.