How social media can help find jobs

By Dalton Karwacki
Social networking sites can be valuable tools in landing a job, according to a student presentation for an event planning class last week.

Seniors Danielle Weiss and Liz Stanton and juniors Lisa Steenstra, Brooke McDermott, Stephanie Santiago, and Candice Hershkorn gave a presentation, titled RU Linked In?, which looked at several types of social networking, what they are, and how to use them to become more appealing to potential employers. Specifically, the event focused on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and personal Web sites. Also explained were the basic reasons to use social networking to help find a job.

“Basically, you always want to be a step ahead of the person next to you,” Steenstra said.  “If you’re submitting a résumé online, that’s just going to be a speck in the pile.  By networking, you’re getting the chance to meet people and learn things about them.  You want to brand yourself and find ways to stand out.”

The students said that social networking can help develop a person’s current career by helping people in the same field meet. New career options can be explored when people in different fields are brought together.  The discussion then moved to some things to remember while utilizing social networking.

“When you do network, you want to be able to leave a lasting impression on the person that you are communicating with,” Weiss said.  “One thing that many people do when they meet someone in a field they are not interested in is to burn the bridge. You never want to burn a bridge because you never know who those people know in your field.”

The next point of discussion was LinkedIn, which was described as the “professional Facebook.”  It works much like Facebook, but is used solely for professional networking.  Users have profiles which can display status updates, much like Facebook, as well as display the user’s résumé.  Many companies use LinkedIn as a recruitment resource.

“The reason why you would want to use it is to build your network of connections,” Weiss explained. “It’s basically a whole group of friends, but only in a professional setting. You can also get recommendations through LinkedIn.  There’s a space where previous bosses, or current bosses, can write recommendations for you and link you to people that they also know. You can also apply for jobs directly on the site.”

After explaining LinkedIn, Twitter’s potential use was explored. Twitter is basically a Web site that allows users to give small status updates.  More formally, it is a micro-blogging and information sharing site.  Users are given a Twitter page, which can be personalized, and can share status updates of up to 140 characters in length.

“If you are going to use Twitter, you should use it to network and meet people that you may not have an opportunity to meet on an everyday basis,” Steenstra said.  “But also, it’s used so that if you are interested in a potential career or career path of a person, you can follow this person, get more information and communicate with them, forming a relationship with them for marketing purposes.  This will create definite career possibilities in the future.”

Facebook was the next form of networking discussed.  The students talked about the benefits of Facebook beyond the typical friendly, informal uses. They said one key benefit was that anyone can join groups dedicated to their potential career path in order to form connections with people in the same field.

“Also, something you can do so you don’t have to delete your Facebook account and create a professional one, is that you can create a list of people who can only see certain parts of your profile,” Steenstra said.  “If you don’t want them to see your pictures, or your wall, you can just completely eliminate that. So, by creating a professional list, it filters all of that out, so that way you can still make that connection with somebody and not have to worry about them seeing things that they probably shouldn’t see.”

Blogs can also be an important aspect in rising beyond a résumé, they said.  This can be done by using a blog as a digital résumé.  Work from classes can be displayed in order to demonstrate a person’s skill sets to potential employers.

“No matter what major you’re going towards, no matter what you want to do, you definitely need, in this day and age, to have technical skills, and you need to know how to write,” Weiss said. “Not only should you post papers, but you can also post anything in your portfolio, such as pictures or anything else.”

The final focal point of the presentation was a personal Web site. For professional use, a personal Web site was described as a step past a blog.  It is, according to the students, an excellent way to be more noticeable, as most job applicants will most likely not have a personal Web site.  A personal Web site can be used as a digital portfolio and résumé, with links to samples of the creator’s work, as well as to provide a link to a hardcopy of the résumé.

“You want to jump off the page, you want to be that much better than the competition,” Steenstra said. “And not only that, but now, many employers will Google your name, and instead of your personal Facebook page, you’re going to want something like this to pop up. So this will actually completely sell yourself to the employer.”

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