Top Ways College Graduates Can Use Social Media for Their Job Search
Posted on September 24, 2011
When I graduated from The University of Alabama in May 2010, I had little understanding of the impact that social media would have on my future life. (The “Like” button didn’t even exist then, and that says a lot!) Sure, I held accounts on all of the major platforms, but they were merely placeholders. I existed on them, and that was all.
Out of college, degree in hand, I was ready to face the real world. Or so I thought. The reality of it was that I had graduated at the one of the worst possible times in recent history. Now more than ever do you have to stand out from your peers, and hey, if you know people – well, there’s the big secret, you need to know people.
In college, most of us would scoff at the thought of attending an event, or mixer, or guest speaker for the sole purpose of what we call “networking.” I always told myself that I was good enough on paper to at the least get interviews, and that I didn’t need to go stand in a room pretending that I was having a grand time making small talk with professionals that didn’t want to hear what I had to say. It just seemed like an unnecessary step to me, a waste of time and effort.
Well, it’s a funny thing, because over the past 15 months I’ve gradually forced myself to be a participant of both worlds, both social media and networking. (For the record, I still hate saying the word “networking”.) Now, it’s not forced. I enjoy it for what it’s worth. I’ve come to realize that there are people out there that want to hear about you. They have ideas for you, connections for you, and want you to succeed. I didn’t start using Twitter religiously until around January 2011. Heck, I didn’t grasp the self-promotion and self-branding opportunities that the platform presented until the next month. Once I started realizing that everyone that I needed to talk to was on Twitter, it hit me. Twitter is probably the easiest way to meet people, um, ever. It gives you the opportunity to control how you want people to perceive you, for them to know exactly what you’re about, in tiny little chunks. It isn’t weird at all to jump into conversations on Twitter, to completely and randomly comment on other people’s rants and stories. In fact, that’s how you impress people. Getting over that hurdle of interaction and putting yourself out there is so easy to do with social media. But it’s also very difficult to find a balance – there’s a fine line between between personality and professionalism, but I highly recommend that you find that line and ride it for as long as you can. That balance of personality and professionalism is the key to making contacts and getting people to help you out in the long run.
Top ways college graduates can use social media for their job search:
- Build up a history of sharing topics that you’re interested in. Focus is important though. If you’re an advertising geek, don’t tweet articles and posts about banking and mortgage rates. You should shoot for an 80/20 ratio of professional/personal tweets.
- Show that you’re personable by maintaining an engaging and welcoming tone.
- Show that you’re knowledgeable by adding comments to posts that you share.
- Tell people that you’re there. Put your profile links EVERYWHERE. Business cards, resumes, other social media profiles, bumper stickers, wherever!
- Don’t drop off the face of the earth, ignore, or be rude to people online. It’s just proper etiquette, and don’t forget, everyone sees what you’re saying.
- Find people in your field that you want to talk to, converse with them on a frequent basis, and make yourself known.
- Tweet like the entire world is watching everything that you say. If you contribute something profound, you’re bound to turn some heads. If you post “yo tweeps, today was dope, i had Taco Bell for lunch” on a constant basis, well, you’re doing it all wrong.
- Thank people until you’re blue in the face. (Or, I suppose until your fingers falls off?) Saying thank you goes a long way in relationships. People don’t owe you anything, never expect favors or reciprocation.
Don’t stop at online connections.
Make that connection between social and networking. Find the events that your online acquaintances go to and meet them in person. There are plenty of free events that you can benefit from and use as a means of meeting the people you need to be talking to. In sales, a lot can be said for what happens after you close. Well, the same can be said in relationships – a lot can be left out in the online world, so make sure you live up to your promises and take time to develop them offline.
Believe me, I know how incredibly difficult it can be to find a job. I’ve been there. But I’ve also made a commitment to becoming a part of the community here in Birmingham, both online and in person. It’s easier than ever to get access to people, and particularly the people you need to be talking to in order to find a job. Seeking out HR people that have thousands of followers trying to do the same thing as you? Not a strategy. Use a targeted strategy and find people you’d be working amongst, above, and below. Definitely put it in your bio that you’re looking for a career, it’s not embarrassing, and I’ve had countless people contact me because they followed me, saw I was searching, and liked the content I shared. Just remember, it’s not a popularity contest of how many followers or scores or tweets you can get, and don’t try to be someone you’re not – be yourself and the rest will take care of itself.
I’ve met some incredible people on Twitter that were willing to go out of their way to help me find a job. Truly amazing and selfless people. Now that I’m settled here in Birmingham, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of them in person and thank them for all of their help. Our relationships developed over several months and were separated by a thousand miles – I’m so grateful to these people and will gladly put down the keyboard for a round of drinks anytime.
Be proactive, approachable, and give back, that’s how relationships are created and maintained. Relationships are meant to be face-to-face. So once again, don’t stop at online. You’ll make friends with the most unlikely people, and it’s a great feeling to know that they’re out there waiting to meet you.Top Ways College Graduates Can Use Social Media for Their Job Search by Zack Sylvan