I write this post to the class of 2014 college graduates. Putting in four years to earn your undergraduate (or five…or six) I’m sure you are ready to go put that degree to work! You have the grades, the extracurriculars, internships, and even great references. But in today’s fiercely competitive economy there is no guarantee that you’ll even get an interview.
I have watched recent alumni take jobs at coffee shops after graduation, as I wonder if they can afford their student loan payments. Yes watch out, those payments kick in six months after walking across that stage.
Okay deep breaths, hope is not lost. You got this! Social media isn’t just for Instagramming your blinged out graduation cap or staying in touch with your fellow graduates. When used right, certain platforms can make a huge difference in telling your story including experience, personality, and passions.
The fact is employers will search more than your resume and references to learn about you. One search on google, Facebook and Twitter may actually give them all they need in selecting you as a potential candidate. Also, employers want you to be beyond competent on social media. Showing you are an active user, applying the tools for positive and purposeful activity will give you, even more, weight to your application.
I could also write about establishing and cleaning up your entire digital profile (insert: please google yourself), which can also potentially be a make or break to landing a job. I have written about this here and will highlight a few to-dos as a job hunter.
First Things First
- Google yourself. Use every variety of your name you’ve used or been referred by.
- Review & Reflect on the digital you. Reflect on what your activity says you and if that is the message you’d want an employer to see.
- Clean it up. Delete or edit posts, pursue untagging if a friend has posted a pic of you. If there happens to be anything false about you, pursue first the user if not the platform itself to aid you.
- Personal Branding Part I: Get legitimate photos for your profiles & background images.
- Personal Branding Part II: Work on consist profile descriptions and account names. IE @Josieahlquist.
- Constructively Contribute: Don’t just lurk, contribute content and be an active communicator on social media. Further make your activity based in positive, authentic and constructive content.
With these firsts under your belt, now you are ready for social media made of job searching. I give you three tools that will make you a triple-threat-candidate in your job search. These includes Twitter, LinkedIn & Blogging.
- Appropriate User Name. Make sure your Twitter handle is your name, not @starfishhappyface.
- Be a Follower. Follow companies and company leaders who you respect and can learn from in your field.
- Hashtag Happy. Learn the common hashtags common in your industry and follow them, Tweetdeck is a great platform to track these. This is free professional development and networking.
- Chat it Up! Twitter chats are becoming stronger on twitter every day. There is a chat for just about every industry, usually occurring the same day and time weekly, so place them on your schedule with a reminder.
- 140 Original Characters. To really advance your Twitter usage is to actively contribute original content, especially within your industry. See blogging information below.
- Direct your Tweets. This can be done a few ways. Whereadingad a book by an industry leader, quote a line with their username. Second would be sharing their content directly, such as an RT or a blog post they wrote. Finally, you could get really brave and tweet directly to them, maybe giving them a shout out or ask them a question. Watch out though, don’t be creepy.
- Get to 100%. Complete your entire profile. This includes jobs, internships, extracurriculars, classes, languages and more. LinkedIn tracks your progress, so you’ll know when you hit it. Rumor is, you are more likely to show up in searches with a complete profile. It also looks more professional for those searching your profile.
- Invest in Headshots. A professional photo, especially on this platform is important.
- Invitations. Make sure those you send an ‘invitation’ to you are reaching out to connect with a purpose. Especially if you do not know them well, explain in your invitation who you are and why you are looking to connect.
LinkedIn Groups. Just like Facebook and Google+, LinkedIn has groups. Especially as a college grad, find your university as well as any alumni groups which many times will post events and job postings.
- Give and get recommendations and endorsements. A fabulous part of LinkedIn is the feedback you can receive as well as give to other professionals. The quickest way is through a tool called endorsements. Start your own list based upon your key experience/skills. Recommendations are LinkedIn gold, seek out recommendations from previous supervisors or classmates, which will really enhance your profile.
- Share Industry Content. To show you are aware and very interested in your industry is to actively share content on linked in through the ‘newsfeed’ function. Do this with articles, blog posts or other related content that others in your field would value.
Extra Bonus for 2014 Grads. Watch this video on how to stand out on LinkedIn!
- Choose Platform. There are a number of blogging platforms that are easy and free. I recommend WordPress, but other options include tumblr, blogger and medium.
- Claim Your Name. Even if you don’t plan on blogging, you should buy you domain name with your full name, mine is www.josieahlquist.com. This will be a small investment, as you would need to buy this domain yearly.
- About Me Page. On this blog page, introduce yourself and highlight experience, projects, and contact information. Here is my about me page, as well a second page which highlights my experience.
- Find a Niche. This was actually advice I fought at first, but have found since found success once having a clear voice and niche. Think about your passions, experiences, and topics you are an expert on. Use your course work projects to get you started. YES all those papers should be turned into posts!
- Start Blogging! Blogging is a bit intimidating. I call it ‘blogging bravely‘ because you are really putting yourself out there. Set a realistic goal, such as blogging every week, every month, etc. Just do it!
- Share Content. Once you publish your posts, make sure to share it on Twitter, LinkedIn or any other social media platforms you are on. You never know who may stumble onto your content, I have connected with so many new colleagues from writing.
If you are doing blogging with your industry, proudly put your website on your email signature and resume!
Advice from other Higher Education Pros
To give you even further advice on using social media to establish a professional presence on social media, I put a call out on Twitter to my Higher Education colleagues. Here is what they suggest!
This post is really part one, as part two would detail further on using social media strategically in your job search. Here are some resources to get you started.