Social Media Give Opportunities to Network and Communicate Personal 'Brand'
by Jennifer Spencer
With 500 million users on Twitter, 175 million on LinkedIn, and a billion-dollar online recruitment industry, there's no question that today's students face a radically different job search than their parents did—and that social media will be part of it.
As both students and recruiters have far more information than ever at their digital fingertips, the key, experts say, is making your message stand out above the considerable noise.
"You're basically putting your brand out there when you go on LinkedIn," said Joseph Wilde, GSB '03, and national experienced recruiting manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers. "How do you differentiate yourself?"
Wilde presents several seminars each year for Fordham students about networking and the use of social media like LinkedIn.
As a recruiter, Wilde said he uses LinkedIn "all the time" to find candidates. He said students need to think strategically about how to market themselves when using social media for the job search.
"When you're building your profile, you want to use verbiage that is used by people in the industry. Take a look at the job specs, and use the similar language in your profile. You can also use that in search criteria as you connect with people," Wilde said.
Kate Fields, assistant director, marketing and student engagement for Fordham University, Career Services, said networks like Facebook and Twitter can give students a way to learn more about a company or industry in which they are interested in working and often give direct access to communicate with recruiters.
"Social media, especially Twitter, allows you to actually get in contact with companies that you might possibly be interested in working for," she said.
"You can tweet at a company or a recruiter for a company, ask them questions and show your interest," she said.
Diana Vining, director of regional recruitment at City Year, a national service program, said her organization uses social media to communicate because they know it's where their audience, students and recent graduates, are looking for jobs and internships.
"We also try to use Facebook and Twitter to really have a conversation, to share articles and links about things going on in the nonprofit and education sector, and to communicate with schools and other nonprofits," Vining said.
While social media can open doors of opportunity for students, an online persona that's not carefully managed can also firmly close the door to a job. Fields cautions students who are looking for jobs and internships to be aware that their profiles are fair game to recruiters via online searches.
Students on the job search should consider using a more professional-looking Facebook profile photo, adjust their privacy settings, and be restrained in what they post online—a challenge in today's world of instant communication.
"If you are applying to internships or jobs, don't have any photos that you wouldn't want a prospective employer—or your grandmother—to see," Fields cautioned.
"You need to censor your feeds to make sure a prospective employer won't see anything that could harm your chances of getting your job—even if it is just an opinion about the presidential debates," she said.
When scouring social media for recruits, Wilde said he looks for people who can present themselves effectively using the written word.
"They're clear, concise, their statements are robust, and they're not just giving me basic information," Wilde said.
"I want someone who isn't just putting their resume up there, but someone who's telling me a story."