To stay competitive and edge out competition in the job market, us recent grads need to use whatever strengths we can to stand out among the masses. For instance, we can use social media like it’s nobody’s business (pun intended. #sueme if you don’t like it). Who knew those thousands of hours procrastinating would actually pay off?
Increasing numbers of companies are using LinkedIn as a recruiting tool. Even Facebook & Twitter are used as supplemental background checks. And although the social norm is to delete your accounts or change your name during the job search process, it’s beneficial to keep your accounts active. It’s better to have a profile that looks professional than to not have a profile at all. Besides, your accounts can make your personality stand out in a way your resume cannot.
Here are four solid ways to use the interwebs for professional development:
The belief “Finding a job is all about who you know” is fairly accurate — there is (arguably) nothing more valuable than a personal introduction to the company you’re applying to. LinkedIn can help you set up personal introductions. For every company you apply to, check LinkedIn to see if you have any 1st or 2nd connections with the organization.
LinkedIn also facilitates the application process by allowing you to apply for certain jobs with one click. An increasing amount of companies are adopting the “Apply with LinkedIn” feature which enables the applicant to pull information directly from her LinkedIn account to post on the company’s job board. An example of this can be found on Pinterest.
I’ll write more in depth about LinkedIn in a future post.
According to a recent Nielsen Report, the average user spends 8 hours a month just on Facebook. Current college freshmen reported using FB 3+ hours a week. We’ve been training ourselves to navigate through social networking sites on a level that doesn’t come naturally for most professionals.
Further, having a polished, professional Facebook can work to your advantage. Cleaning up these pages is a great way to market yourself and make you stand out in the applicant pool, especially in comparison to those who are trying to hide. Spending a day refining your About Me, cleaning your photos, and deleting past questionable posts can go a long way.
And when you’ve finished polishing your account, make sure to use FB’s “View As” feature located on your profile page. This feature lets you conveniently see what your public profile looks.
Finally, a few words of wisdom from my brother-in-law, Brian Lee, “On the same note, make sure that any “questionable” content is private (drinking, doing anything particularly stupid, anything political or inflammatory).”
More about Facebook will come in a later post.
An active Twitter account tells employers that you’re outgoing and are familiar with community development.
To save space in this post, I’ve only briefly touched on the multitude of ways Twitter can help your job hunt. I’ll continue this conversation in another post. #pinkypromise
- Landing Pages
And when you’re done updating all of your social media profiles, it’s time to create a landing page. This is an optional step towards completing your online identity. Essentially, including all of your social networking sites and a short summary of yourself on one centralized page allows for higher SEO.
All those times you used Google instead of academic databases (i.e. - Lexis Nexis, JSTOR, et al.) may have given you a leg up in the professional world. However, a 2-year study of student research, The Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries, indicates that college students aren’t fully utilizing search engines as research tools. Cross-check your skills with the report. What you find may be surprising.
My last bit of advice in this post is to marry all of your accounts together. Yes, polygamy is encouraged in the social media world. Connecting your social media accounts is easy to set up and allows you to push information to your different audiences from a singular account. 3rd-party applications like HootSuite and TweetDeck help you manage multiple accounts.
Final note: Malcolm Gladwell reminds us in his book, Outliers, that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of working on a task before mastering it. Assuming that you’ve spent 3 hours a week for the past 10 years (let’s be honest, this is a very conservative estimate for most of us…) using Google+, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, then you’ve already spend approximately 1,500 hours using social media — you’re well on your way to becoming a social media master!