MALCOLM RADKE / HARLEY RIVET
We all know someone whose Facebook profile picture is of them overindulging at last Friday’s party and who, despite a solid resume, can’t seem to get hired. But what about people who used their social media accounts intelligently and strategically to land the jobs of their dreams?
Students land jobs because of social media more often than you think. With a bit of fine-tuning to your own online footprint, you may find your summer and post-graduation job searches easier than ever before.
So what exactly is social media? If we are using it to advance our professional lives, most say it is best to envision social media as one big cocktail party with thousands of networking opportunities. You can decide who to talk to, and you can decide what you want to say.
Follow Interesting People On Twitter
While Facebook resembles a personal network, and LinkedIn represents a professional network, Twitter’s place in the social media world is somewhere in the middle.
The fun thing about Twitter is that it is totally customizable — you can follow world leaders and use your account as a professional platform, you can follow video game bloggers and use your account for nerdier hobbies, or you can follow all your Facebook friends and use your account as an extension of your personal life. Or you can do all three at once!
The number of local connections that you can make using Twitter is surprisingly impressive. It is as if you are at an event full of local strangers, and everyone is excited to meet each other. In terms of landing a job, follow university career services as well as your specific college for all the latest updates. Also consider following accomplished individuals in your area of expertise.
Twitter also has a list function that lets you catalogue individual accounts into a group called, say, “Potential Employers” (you have the option of making lists either private or public).
To get the most out of Twitter, make sure you have a meaningful bio, an appropriate display picture and a catchy background — Twitter veterans will tell you that nothing hurts your Twitter presence more than a useless profile page. Make an impression.
Create Your Own Meaningful Blog
Perhaps because of its rareness, the ability to effectively communicate is the most sought-after skill in any profession. Consider a blog your most direct opportunity to display this talent. Blogger and WordPress are the two best (free) hosting sites for beginners looking to get their feet wet. As for content, do not forget that you are a university student with at least one particular area of expertise.
Why not show off how knowledgeable you are by discussing current trends and interesting findings within your field? You will leave a fantastic impression on a potential employer if that person sees you presenting your unique, well-informed opinion on a subject you know something about.
You can pretty much guarantee that no matter what you are applying for, your name is going to be typed into a Google search. In fact, many employers will tell you that they are actually disappointed when they do not find something of interest on the internet about a job applicant because it means that the applicant is both outdated and uninvolved. A blog is your chance to control what they see you talking about. Google’s search engine values each new blog post as if it were a whole new web page, so a frequently-updated blog will be at the top of any Google search for your name. This allows you to strategically manage the impression that you make on people.
Tell Your Facebook Friends
I’m not suggesting bombarding your Facebook friends with the embarrassing truth that you are out of work and looking for a job. What I recommend here is telling your hundreds of Facebook friends that you are on Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogger, etc. to see who else you can connect with. Having your real life friends by your side in the online world multiplies your chances of having a connection or learning of new opportunities, because these people like you already.
Also: when you create, say, a new blog post or land a new job; tell your Facebook network about it. You never know who they actually know. Each of your Facebook friends represents a vast network and chances are they will know someone who can help you. As a general rule, the more you interact with others on Facebook and Twitter, the more likely others are to reciprocate.
Start A LinkedIn Account
It goes without saying that if you want to find the right profession, you should probably go where the recruiters are. The last couple years have proven that LinkedIn is the overwhelming favourite for firms looking to hire online and to pre-screen applicants. Consider LinkedIn your chance to post your resume online.
Sign-up is relatively easy, and your professional LinkedIn account is usually the first to show up on Google searches of your name. The site allows your peers the ability to post positive (or negative) referrals about you, and also to introduce you to others based on their connections, much like a live networking event.
Lastly, like any other online job site, you can scan for positions within your region based on your skills and desires. The difference here is that LinkedIn generally has a higher calibre of jobs compared to other online sites.
A small tip: have a pleasant, professional display picture, and engage others in small talk.
YouTube: Not Only A Waste Of Time
There are literally millions of free videos out there. Experts in areas across the globe are using YouTube to post their advice free of charge in order to get their names out there. By spending half a day researching your area of study on YouTube (and also through Twitter and blogs) you will become extremely informed about the latest happenings in the industry.
There are also valuable job search preparation videos, ranging from “How To Tie a Tie” to “What Questions Google Asked Me At My Interview.”