LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, video resumes via YouTube, and more–social media is replacing the traditional approach of job hunting. A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found 41 percent of new college graduates in 2012 used social media to look for work. That figure is up from 7 percent in 2008.
Social Media Helps Students Build Networking Community
It's no secret that today's students are savvy at using social media for keeping in contact with friends and family. But at the professional level they may be less apt to use it on a regular basis, if at all.
LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool that has over 90 million registered users spanning more than 200 countries. Every Fortune 500 company is represented on the network and over a quarter of the people using it are senior executives.
How Does It Work?
Similar to face-to-face networking, social media facilitates interaction among friends, former co-workers, alumni and others. Users build new contacts by expanding beyond their primary (first-degree) connections to second-degree connections and so on.
In comparison to the traditional way of networking, an individual who is invited to join someone's professional network is engaging in a virtual swapping of business cards. This savvy way of doing business is as simple as a few clicks on a laptop. Best of all, it's free.
When used continually and purposefully, LinkedIn enables a user to create a powerful network that can be tapped into both now and in the future. Its usefulness expands beyond job hunting to include practical business application.
Start Early, Think Smart
Starting freshman year, students should begin building a professional online presence. The word professional deserves particular attention because in some cases students inadvertently make the mistake of focusing more on social than on the networking.
In posting comments, photos and profile information, students should be mindful of the image they are creating. Prospective employers, internship coordinators and members of professional societies may see these profiles. Even years later a user may think all traces of his/her college postings have been deleted, only to find they were still accessible.
Five Golden Rules
Similar to how a resume and vitae should be carefully crafted, a professional social media profile needs careful attention. BW's Career Services has advisors that can help students create a polished profile that can help them garner internship and job opportunities.
These five tips can help your student get started:
- Use a professional photo of you alone.
- Create a headline with areas of study and/or career ambitions.
- Craft a keyword-rich summary that includes type of positions you are seeking.
- Include volunteer activities, internships and co-curricular involvement.
- Seek recommendations from professors, advisors, internship supervisors, mentors and others who can speak to your successes.