When you get to be a career coach with more than 25 years of experience in the recruiting space, you come to expect that all the college students and recent graduates you encounter will be light years ahead of you in their grasp of all things digital. You even resign yourself to the inevitable slip up and reference to some kind of outmoded technology–which was so last minute, and, already, so uncool.
Yet, I’m consistently amazed at how pathetic most college students’ and recent graduates’ online social profiles are.
Delving deeper, I often learn that many of the culprits in question are unaware of the degree to which employers examine prospective hires’ social footprints. Let’s explore–and hopefully dispel!–three common misconceptions I often hear from young job seekers.
1. “LinkedIn is just for graduates and working professionals.”
Not true! In a recentstudy, Jobvite found that 87% of employers are using LinkedIn for recruiting, and 95% hired a new employee due to their efforts on LinkedIn. In fact, LinkedIn recently added a section to users’ profiles specifically geared toward students and recent graduates, designed to reflect students’ and recent graduates’ unique achievements and experiences.
Maybe you’ve already joined LinkedIn, but are you sure others can find you? Probably not. Most students and recent graduates have sparsely-populated profiles, which are in desperate need of further information. Empty profiles are highly unlikely to surface in searches, which means you are invisible to prospective employers.
My advice: Treat your LinkedIn profile seriously and think of it as your online resume. If you make it thorough, complete and relevant, you will greatly increase your chances of getting found by a hiring manager.
2. “You can’t use Twitter to search for jobs.”
Strike two! Most young job seekers, to be honest, have absolutely no interest in or understanding of the vast opportunities that Twitter presents them. As a new user, it can be confusing and frustrating to navigate the network, which definitely discourages some users. But Twitter can be a really effective way to communicate that you are looking for a job. It’s also well designed for soliciting help and guidance within your area of interest.
There’s also a new search tool, Twello, which allows you to search for users by expertise, profession or other attributes. While employers use Twitter less than LinkedIn overall, there are definitely some employers that use it to identify desirable applicants, so it’s absolutely worth the pain you will endure as you get past the initial awkwardness of the medium.
3. “Facebook is for high school and college students.”
Lately, there has been a notable increase in the use of Facebook for employment opportunities. Facebook is no longer simply social. Unlike LinkedIn and Twitter, your Facebook profile tells a story of who you are both personally and professionally, and can give potential employers a more complete picture. That can be a double-edged sword. While it can be an effective networking tool, Facebook content must be carefully monitored.
Here’s another recent development. Much of corporate recruiting has moved off-campus, and even when recruiters come to campus they tend to be recruiting for internships. Using LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook will give you a great opportunity to reach the largest possible audience. If you can learn to be proficient in using all these tools and to be very thorough about how you manage your online reputation, you will set yourself up for success.
Lesley is president and founder of Priority Candidates, which prepares college students and recent graduates nationwide to get hired for their first jobs. Previously, Lesley spent more than 25 years in executive search, working with candidates from entry level to C-Suite executives in organizations ranging in size from small, family owned businesses to large international organizations. Her fundamental knowledge of what hiring manager’s look for is the core of what Priority Candidates does to prepare college students/recent grads to get hired now. An alumnus of Duke University who is based in New York City, Lesley has been featured in USA Today, ABC’s New York Viewpoint with Ken Rosato, ABC News with Art McFarland, The New York Times, NY Nightly News with NBC4’s Chuck Scarborough, eCampus News and John Tucker’s Small Business Report on Bloomberg Radio. Lesley always welcomes connections via LinkedIn, on Twitter or by email or phone, available on her website.