By Emily Roseman, Alumna of American University
For so long, social media has played a large role on the college campus. It’s the way to keep tabs on old friends, to make that important shift from “it’s complicated” to “official” and to properly document four years of studious work in 140 characters or less. But as students shift their focus from grassy quad to cubicles, so has the use for social media.
Students are using social media to seek out salary information, job descriptions and information about possible employee development programs. While students are using their online expertise to weed out possible careers and learn more about employers, universities and professionals alike stress the importance an online brand or image plays in the working world.
Revamp Your Social Media Image
Sure, those memories of a killer high school party make for a good profile picture. But no interviewer really cares about how many games of beer pong you won senior year. Take an online inventory of your social media presence and give yourself a makeover. Easy fixes include deleting unnecessary photo albums from yesteryear and retooling the language and information listed on your Facebook or Twitter pages.
Just like you would a resume, picture your Facebook as an online snapshot of your more “work-appropriate” interests, your past employers and occupations as well as your educational background. If you don’t feel entirely comfortable eliminating your past from the online sphere, try making your pages more secure and private. Take a moment to look at the fine print on Facebook and take the necessary precautions to make your page safe from searching. The same applies for your Twitter feeds.
Understand Your Online Brand
Having an online brand is critical to the job search. Employers may look to your social media presence when making that final decision in hiring. While being social media savvy will add bulk to your resume, it is important to understand how your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts act as visual marketing tools altogether.
Your social media profile should be a compelling, professional online snapshot. Always demonstrate what you’ve accomplished, your strengths and what you can possibly offer to an employer. Make a brand effective by using universal/professional language across all of your social media platforms. Try to imagine your Twitter feed as a means to show off your skills, rather than tweeting out what you ate for lunch. Do your homework and connect with similar accounts that pertain to your career and tweet out interesting articles you come across or even your own work for others to share. Using social media for making contacts and self-promotion allows you to network on a wider, more effective scale.
Utilize Social Media for Recruiter Contacts
As social media sites like Facebook and Twitter become normal means of communication and self-expression for 20-year-olds, HR departments and recruiters are now seeing the Internet as a major resource for hiring. In fact Jobvite’s annual Social Recruiting Survey found an increase in overall use of social media by employers. Ninety-two percent already implement “social recruiting” in the hiring process, and the 43 percent who used social recruiting saw an increase in overall candidate quality. Hiring departments utilize a more social media friendly approach in order to spread a wider net in the applicant pool. With an active online presence, contacting and interacting with HR departments of given companies can give you a competitive edge but also peace of mind.
Apply Outside The Box
Applying to the job market doesn’t have to mean bringing in your dad's old leather briefcase with 20 copies of your resume anymore. For young professionals entering the job market today, using your online prowess to your advantage can at times make or break an interview. Even when it comes to language, boast your ability to post photos on Facebook while concurrently Instagraming and sending out a witty hashtag. Some call it the ADD generation; young professionals call it “expert ability to multitask.” Your background in friending and following for the past four years can even be listed as social media managing or social entrepreneurship.
While Facebook and Twitter only get you so far on resumes alone, the proof is really in the pudding. Create an online portfolio (no matter what field you're in) and provide your interviewer with something more tangible than a printed resume. Creating portfolios allows you to organize video clips, photography and any articles or noteworthy papers you've written in a visually appealing way that is sure to impress your next boss. Websites have become more cost effective and easy to set up as well, so there’s no need to be a professional coder to create a lasting impression online.
As you prepare to make the giant leap from the classroom to the boardroom, spending a few extra minutes on social media sites to rethink that next status update or photo album from your time abroad could really make or break your ability to land that dream job.