How Social Media Can Prepare Students for Jobs After College
Story: Kristin Wyllys, @kristin_wyllys
Oct. 17, 2013
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Today, the use of social media in corporate recruiting efforts has hit an all-time high. Companies are recruiting potential employees online through three main outlets: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Because the employers are frequently relying on social media to find future employees, students should be using their personal social media sites and online profiles to their advantage when seeking an internship or job. The job market post-college becomes more competitive each year, and it makes finding a job increasingly difficult for new graduates. With the help of social media, students can help themselves stand out from the crowd as they seek that first interview for their dream job. By maintaining a clean and professional online presence, these individuals can put themselves ahead of other candidates when the application process begins.
Aleesa Ross, College of Media & Communication career center director, said maintaining professionalism on your own social media sites is critical. Ross said if students are interested in working in social media then they need to be savvy about the image they're promoting. Employers are acknowledging that the students coming out of college and entering the workforce know more about social media than they do themselves. These companies, small or big, are looking to hire young professionals who know how social media can help their company.
Allison Matherly, social media coordinator for Texas Tech University, said the first thing she looks at when hiring a social media intern is their personal use of social media across different channels. “If you understand social media from a user perspective, then I know you will be able to understand it from a brand perspective when talking to a user,” Matherly said.
Matherly said it isn't necessarily about the content you are putting on your social media sites, but it is more about understanding the different functions and capabilities of each site and keeping content appropriate. Some advice she gave about Twitter is to write the things in your bio that you would want an employer to notice, such as where you graduated and with what degree. She suggested adding a fun random fact about yourself that could grab their attention. She advised students to engage with other communication professional by networking online to make connections. Even searching hashtags and professionals that share your interests is another way to connect online. It is easy to talk to professionals online because you can control what you say and how you say it when introducing yourself and trying to make a connection. Matherly said students should be using this to their advantage when networking online.
In order to stand out, Matherly suggested having your LinkedIn profile filled out 100 percent. She recommended using LinkedIn to expand and talk about the things that you couldn't include on your standard resume. Also, sharing content on LinkedIn that you find interesting or relevant to the communications industry shows that you are engaged. She said because the communications industry is changing so quickly, if you can show you are keeping up new trends and technology, it helps employees have confidence in your ability to adapt.
When asked why employers are looking to hire students straight out of college and young professionals for these emerging social media positions, Matherly explained that companies are relying on people who already have social media skills. However, students should know that social media jobs are not your typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job. She said work could interfere with your personal life because people can be very critical and forget that there is a person behind a brand. She said being able to separate yourself from the brand at work is hard, but it is something you must do.
Ross elaborated on this by saying companies and employers understand the importance of social media; they just need the help of someone who can plan and execute their online plans. Social media comes natural to the millennial generation, and they can use what they know to potentially get a job in this area. “Employers are looking for people who are creative, who can think outside the box and who aren't afraid to try something new,” Ross said. “However, it all starts with being able to write and communicate, bottom line.”
The easiest way to gain experience, both Ross and Matherly said, is to start with an internship. For students at Texas Tech University, there are several opportunities in and around Lubbock. Students also have the chance to make their own opportunities with companies that do not have social media channels. One of the reasons social media jobs are becoming more popular is because social media is an easy way for brands to talk to their audiences. By taking advantage of the opportunities around you, you can easily gain more experience by helping brands grow and expand their social media presence. Students should be taking the initiative now to secure different internships because the more experience you have, the more marketable you can make yourself when talking about your knowledge and skills.