Social Media, Students and Careers

Written by Heather Coleman Voss, Business Services/Social Media Coordinator

Young people with the goal of applying for their first jobs, college, or beginning their career need to start utilizing social media with a “brand” in mind. Even high school students have the opportunity to begin this positive branding process while still enjoying social media platforms for social interaction.

Here’s the thing: Employers are Googling applicants every day. They are checking out Facebook Timelines, Twitter profiles and posted photos via Instagram. Why? They want to get a feel for the personality, communication skills and interests of applicants. Times are different. Employers and college admissions representatives are not using social media to turn a candidate down as much as to find reasons to recruit you.

This is very good news. Becoming an attractive candidate is as simple as sharing blog posts, interesting posts and tweets from organizations, your community and companies. Publicly sharing content which showcases your upcoming professional interests, and joining in discussions where your voice is heard on these topics, can be a key factor in your future success.

I reached out and asked some local experts their opinions on this topic. Here is what Samantha Bankey, Marketing Coordinator at HelloWorld (@HW_inc), shares:

Samantha Bankey
Samantha, a 2013 Ferris State Grad, was hired via Instagram the summer after graduation (see photo above).

“It’s important to brand yourself as soon as you enter your undergraduate. Who do you want to be noticed by, and what do you want them to think about you? That’s your personal brand. Your personal brand defines who you are as a professional and a potential employee, so it’s important to realize that your social accounts really do reflect you. Do you have a Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, etc.? Be sure it’s cleaned up. You have a few scrolls down your page to make an impression, and you control whether it’s a good or bad one. 

I always encourage others to not be afraid of social media, but to use it to their advantage. I think it’s totally silly to have a personal Twitter page and a professional Twitter page. Your character shouldn’t be two separate identities. Show your personality and your interests, but don’t go over the top by sharing too much information or by being offensive. You should be able to be 100% yourself with your future employer, not a completely different person. An employer is going to look at your character as a whole, not just your skill sets.

You have to find a way to make yourself different from the other applicants and other students in your field. What makes you unique? For example, when I had my interview at HelloWorld (ePrize at the time), I gave every single person I met that day my personalized business card and resume, all decked out with my logo, contact information, and website. That made me memorable (and landed me an internship, turned job!).”

Social media is hugely beneficial to those who understand how to use it for both personal and professional networking. Emilie Mecklenborg, Recruitment Media Strategist at Alexander Mann Solutions (@WeAreAMS), advises:

Emilie Meck
Emilie’s effective use of Twitter was key to opening a new door into a satisfying career.

“How you manage your online presence is critical for new grads and job seekers whether they are in college or as early as high school. It helps establish your personal brand which will differentiate you from the competition. Social media can be used as a 3D resume showing your strengths, talent and accomplishments. Your social media presence is like your credit history, it will open or close doors for you depending on how you manager your online presence.”

Additionally, many professionals have embraced social media as a way to interact, network, build authentic relationships, crowd source and collaborate across all platforms.

To underscore the importance of the connection between social media and your career, consider carefully what Joseph Gacioch, Chief Innovation Officer of the City of Ferndale (@FerndaleMich), advises:

Joe was promoted from Assistant to the City Manager to Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) within one year of employment at The City of Ferndale.
Joe was promoted from Program and Grants Coordinator to Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) within one year of employment at The City of Ferndale.

“Establishing and managing a social media presence should be an important focus of young graduates and professionals. Sites such as Linked In and Twitter have granted young professionals the opportunity to engage in networking with peers and organizations in locations of their choice. Your soft skills, interests, and opinions are a unique and valuable brand that should be contributed to the ongoing digital conversations.

Linked In and Twitter have often replaced my business cards in context of professional networking at conferences and industry events. Linked In empowers me to continue a conversation and establish a connection where a business card cannot.”

Interested in learning more on this topic? Join the #VZHRchat I have been invited to host on Wednesday, June 25 at 1:00 pm!

Additionally, we have several outstanding career and social media workshops to choose from. Find our calendar on our Facebook page, and call us to register!  We’d love to see you on Twitter: @FerndaleMIWorks

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