Social Media Triple Threat for the Class of 2014 Job Search

LMU Graduation. Photo Credit: Anthony Garrison-Engbrecht

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

  1. Google yourself.  Use every variety of your name you’ve used or been referred by.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Personal Branding Part I: Get legitimate photos for your profiles & background images.
  5. Personal Branding Part II: Work on consist profile descriptions and account names.  IE @Josieahlquist.
  6. 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.

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  1. Appropriate User Name.  Make sure your Twitter handle is your name, not @starfishhappyface.
  2. Be a Follower.  Follow companies and company leaders who you respect and can learn from in your field.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 140 Original Characters.  To really advance your Twitter usage is to actively contribute original content, especially within your industry.  See blogging information below.
  6. 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.


  1. 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.
  2. Invest in Headshots. A professional photo, especially on this platform is important.
  3. 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.
  4. LMU Graduation. Photo credit: Sara Layon

    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.

  5. 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.
  6. 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!


  1. 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.
  2. Claim Your Name. Even if you don’t plan on blogging, you should buy you domain name with your full name, mine is  This will be a small investment, as you would need to buy this domain yearly.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. 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!


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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.


5 Responses to Social Media Triple Threat for the Class of 2014 Job Search

  1. paulgordonbrown May 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    Reblogged this on Pb.log and commented:
    A really great and useful piece by Josie on how to clean up your digital presence for a job search and then how to leverage it.

  2. studentforce May 29, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    Reblogged this on hireED4HigherEd and commented:
    If you’ve just graduated and are looking for a job … this is an informative upbeat post that is well written and extremely helpful. Good luck!

  3. The Millennial May 30, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    This is really great! I’ve tried to discuss the benefits of using social media for networking and job searching, but you have really summarized them well here. Well done.

  4. Rushda June 27, 2014 at 5:57 am #

    Hi Josie

    While reading this blog, I put my head in my hands and thought oh my hat, do the graduates know what they are doing when they are on social media, and do they know the implications and ramifications of this platform!!

    And then I took the deep breaths as you recommended, as a mother of a varsity student and administrator that deals daily with possible graduates, you sound advice will be my sound advice!!! Even my 10 year old asked me the other day, “Mom, if you google me, will you find me!!!”

    I am from South Africa and our educational structure is different, we do not have a college environment as you do, our children progress from primary to high school and then into varsity depending on what they are wanting to study.

    Students must be made aware that even though it says “social media” this platform is accessed by everyone, socially and professionally, students have a tendency to forget that, they are living in the moment and sharing that moment with everyone via this platform.

    But the web never forgets!! I am doing the mantra “Authentic, authentic, authentic”!

    I will have to start including within my conversations with students, whether they are active on social media and whether is utilized to assist with further endeavours, if not then they will need to “Clean it up” to create a good impression for possible employment. Invest in LinkedIn, the initial investment will be to your benefit in the long term, some students will roll their eyes at me and others will listen attentively and take my advice, you can only but advise.

    Your blog has encouraged and guided me on my “pep” talk I will have with my son and students I encounter on campus and hopefully I can make a difference in their lives.


  1. The Student Affairs Collective » 10 ways to survive your first year of #SAGrad - May 26, 2014

    […] 6. Create/Build your social media presence I will concede this point to Josie Ahlquist’s blog post on this very topic. […]

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