Using Social Media to Find a Job: Student Edition

It’s no secret that the job market is bleak these days. Whether you’re graduating in this spring (like me), or plan on slogging it out in the academic ivory tower for a few more years, proactivity is absolutely essential to landing a job. Creative, strategic methods of networking and marketing yourself to potential employers can have tremendous payoffs when looking for your first full-time position.

This is where social media comes in. Developing a simple, solid social media presence that exhibits your skills and potential is a great way to let yourself stand out amidst the mountains of dull one-sheet resumes in the HR department.  However, there’s a lot of variables to be considered before you go attaching your Facebook and Twitter feed links to your resume.   Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

Clean up your profiles

The most important tip in using your social media accounts to find employment is damage control. Those Facebook photos from your house party junior year or obscene .gifs and memes on your Tumblr page that you might think are harmless will probably not go over too well with a potential employer. In fact, in a recent study of 300 randomly selected employees involved in their company’s the hiring process, 91% said they use social media as a way of initially screening applicants. 69% of the same sampling said that they had rejected an applicant because of material posed on one or more of the applicant’s social media profiles. Those statistics along should adequately illustrate the importance of cleaning up your internet spaces and making them professional and presentable. Remember that employers are not only looking for employees but also for people who will represent their company well. Bear all this in mind when controlling and uploading content associated with your profile.

Update your profiles

Not all content on your social media profiles needs to be hidden. In fact, in the same study mentioned above, 68% of employers said they hired someone because of what they saw on a social media site. Social media can (and should) be a place to put your best foot forward by expressing your personality, creativity, originality and well-roundedness in the best possible light. This can definitely have a positive outcome in your job search and set you apart from other candidates.

Additionally, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile by now, get one. When talking with my friends at school, I was surprised by how many of them (even those actively looking for jobs) don’t have one. Simply having a LinkedIn profile and keeping it up-to-date will establish you as someone who is not only has a professional presence online, but also someone who is serious and proactive about finding employment. It also gives you a chance to easily highlight your professional achievements and showcase your resume.

Market yourself

Social media is all about, well, being social. Use your different platforms to let people know you’re interested in employment – most people have been in the same boat as you at some point or another, and will be happy to offer helpful advice. Tweet and give status updates about your qualifications and quest for employment. Post links to your other profiles to give the potential employer a good idea of who you are across your different platforms. Update the “Interests” sections of your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts to reflect your professional goals.

Connect, Connect, Connect

As you launch your career, be sure to build contacts along the way. Even if an employer cannot offer you something right now, a job opening may open up later. Connect with the professional contacts you make along the way through LinkedIn. Also connect to friends, family members and LinkedIn groups to grow your professional presence online. Remember, it only takes one connection to end your job search!

Do you have any creative ideas that you’ve put into practice during your job hunt? Have you had any positive or negative experiences related to social media and your quest for employment? Post in the comments below!

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