Let’s face the facts. Social media plays an important role in your life, whether you like it or not!
According to Merriam-Webster, social media is the form of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share. This includes anything from LinkedIn to the Twitter account that you made during your freshman year of high school.
Since you already utilize social media, why not take advantage of it when it comes to utilizing it professionally. Use it to market yourself as a professional, build connections with other professionals, and find job leads.
“Students are the fastest growing demographic out there, so they’re almost behind if they aren’t using it,” GROWMARK University Relations Manager Kayla Portwood said. “It’s an awesome place for them to become visible to recruiters.”
Because LinkedIn allows users to post examples of one’s work, employers can view more detailed information about a candidate’s experiences than a resume alone.
“It’s something that students should definitely embrace. They do not have to be great using it; but at least put your name out there and your skills because that is what recruiters are looking for,” Portwood said. “LinkedIn is really an extension of the student’s personal brand and an extension of the student’s resume.”
The fear factor
As expected, many students are hesitant to utilize their social media accounts to promote themselves professionally. However, there are tips you can use to face those fears.
- Make sure your information is private. If you have something unprofessional or risky on your social media, it may cost you a job in the future. In fact, some employers may peruse your social media to learn more about you. So set your profile to private so your posts are not shareable.
- Delete unprofessional photos or videos. Despite the common saying, “what’s on the internet stays on the internet forever,” you can delete old photos or videos as a way to prevent them from popping up on search engines.
- Post professional content. Give an employer something positive and professional to look at! LinkedIn allows you to highlight your work experiences, education, and awards. Another benefit of this site is to create posts for others to share within their network. Connect with old employers, coworkers, and friends in a professional manner. Be sure to keep your profile professional, as this is available for all to see – and could even lead you to possible job openings if an employer is impressed with what you post.
Career advisors suggest that you take advantage of LinkedIn as a way to connect with professionals.
“The majority of human resource professionals are on LinkedIn,” Illinois State University Career Advisor Mark Fauble said. “So you want to be there too so they can find you.”
There are many opportunities for students to capitalize on using social media to build a professional network.
“It is something that can potentially get them a job down the road. They can keep in touch with companies, and prepare for an interview based on what the employer posts on their LinkedIn company page,” Portwood said. “To me, as a recruiter, it makes a difference if someone is willing to send out a personal message and to follow-up on the contacts that they have already made. It is a sign of someone who really wants to expand their network and keep their opportunities open. And that is a very positive thing!”
“Social media is an easy way to do a passive job search,” Fauble said. “It will benefit you to take some time out of your day today and start building your future career.”
Logan Ingersoll is a senior exercise science major and a Career Center career ambassador at Illinois State University. Connect with him on LinkedIn.