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Landing a Job Using Social Media

Student using cell phone to find jobs

Many college students are well versed in the unwritten “rules” of social media. After all, they’re the ones who helped create them. Up until now, however, you’ve probably looked at social networking through the lens of your personal life, not your professional future. But social media can be a powerful and effective tool in your search for a job or internship and knowing the rules of engagement is vital to success.

We tapped a panel of experts for their top dos and don’ts for using social media on your job hunt. Want to learn more? Meet the panel in person on April 7 for a Career Services Workshop on Personal Branding Using Social Media.

Do: Get Connected

If you’ve been holding off on joining LinkedIn until you’re further down you career path, now’s the time to change that mindset and create an account. The career-oriented social networking site isn’t only beneficial for seasoned pros, it’s also one of the best ways to build direct connections with recruiters looking to fill open entry level positions. Monté Wylie, talent acquisition specialist for Enterprise Rent A Car, said he welcomes new connections from potential applicants, especially those who have specific questions about the company and the job. Timing is key, though, so Wylie cautioned against sending a connection request right before an interview. Students who reach out in advance, he said, speak volumes about their genuine level of interest in joining the team.

Don’t: Rely on Virtual Connections

Your name, face and resume may be within clicking distance of a hiring manager’s LinkedIn homepage, but nothing really replaces a good, old-fashioned handshake, complete with eye contact and a smile. Only so much about you can be communicated through a resume, or even an online profile, so when it comes to making sure someone’s a good fit for a position, Chantal Shillingford-Horton, a talent recruiter for Kohls Department Stores, said she wants to meet candidates face to face.

“Go to career fairs and networking events,” Shillingford-Horton said. “Practice your elevator speech. Knowing that the positions are limited, it means we’re looking for the best of the best, so you really need to bring your A game to stand out.”

Do: Your Research

By now, you’re well aware that thorough research pays off. The same is true, quite literally, for your job hunt, and social networks are great places to begin your investigation. Following a company’s Facebook page or Twitter account and exploring sites like to get a feel for a company’s culture straight from its employees, reveals a treasure trove of information than can help you make informed decisions on your job search. Still, it’s not the end-all be-all of the research process. Shillingham-Horton suggests dropping by the actual location, if possible, for either a casual visit or a more formal tour.

Do: Get Creative

When students take creativity to new heights, merging the digital realm with the physical one, April Bautista, an executive team leader for Target, takes notice. Having a professional online presence, be it through a LinkedIn account, a digital portfolio or an entire career-oriented website, is a great start. But consider taking it a step further, incorporating a QR code onto your business card or paper resume, for example, to help you stand out amongst the competition. Here’s the key, though, according to Bautista: bells and whistles can help get you noticed initially, but stellar content is what will help seal the deal. Make sure the content on your web-based resume and professional samples are equally as impressive as the creative solutions you drum up to get noticed in the first place.   

Don’t: Play Hard to Get

Playing cat and mouse games may be cute, even effective, in your personal life, but in the world of job hunting, it can be a deal breaker. This one is pretty straightforward: If you’ve cast a line for a prospective employer, make sure you are responsive and prepared when you get a bite.

“You really want to strike when the iron is hot,” said Wylie. “Don’t be shy, it really shows initiative when you’re quick to respond.”  

Don’t: Let Your Personal Life Encroach on Your Professional Life

You’ve probably had a Facebook account long enough to know that your privacy settings can auto adjust at any moment. And you’ve undoubtedly been an Internet connoisseur long enough to know that nothing you post online is ever truly private. Although not every recruiter will check out your “personal” social media accounts as part of their hiring process, don’t count it out as a possibility. Check your account settings to make sure your information is up to your privacy standards. If you’ve purposefully opted for public access, Shillingford-Horton recommends cleaning up your profile to ensure it puts you in the best light. The bottom line, according to Bautista: “If it’s searchable, make sure it highlights your best qualities.”