Will You Pass the Social Media Recruitment Test?

Think that what you post stays between you and your friends? Well, that’s not the case—employers may look for online infor­ma­tion about stu­dents as they apply for intern­ships and jobs. Recently, Career Ser­vices hosted “Do You Pass the Social Media Recruit­ment Test?” This event served as an intro­duc­tion to the ways stu­dents can use social media tools – among them Face­book, Twit­ter, and of course LinkedIn – in the job search and offered tips on how to man­age your online reputation. (Career Services offers similar events every semester, so watch their event calendar or the weekly CareerNews e-newsletter to see when the next one will be offered.)

The session began with the obvious question – what is the Internet saying about you? Stu­dents in attendance looked them­selves up on dogpile.com and other web­sites, and hap­pily none uncov­ered too much unsa­vory infor­ma­tion. Some found videos of them­selves, and the one post-doc present saw links to his research that he didn’t know existed. Kath­leen Mannheimer, Senior Asso­ciate Direc­tor of Career Ser­vices, who hosted the event, said stu­dents may be sur­prised what infor­ma­tion exists about them online and what employ­ers can eas­ily access. She sug­gested set­ting up Google alerts with your name so you can see what comes up in searches. She also sug­gested that when post­ing any­thing online, stu­dents should con­sider whether they would want to see that infor­ma­tion, photo, etc. printed in the news­pa­per. If you hap­pen to come across any­thing you would not want to see as pub­lic infor­ma­tion, lifehacker.com has good tips how to remove infor­ma­tion from the Internet. Check out this infographic entitled, “The Google Yourself Challenge” to learn more.

The pre­sen­ta­tion then shifted to LinkedIn, the social media plat­form that was founded with the express pur­pose of busi­ness net­work­ing. Despite this, Mannheimer said employ­ers can use any social media plat­form, even Twitter and Pin­ter­est, to track and source candidates. Mannheimer showed one of LinkedIn’s educational videos on cre­at­ing a pro­fes­sional pro­file. Tips included upload­ing a business-like pic­ture and giv­ing an in-depth sum­mary of your experiences. LinkedIn has under­gone a num­ber of changes to be more applic­a­ble to stu­dents. “In the very early stages, it was primarily for expe­ri­enced pro­fes­sion­als,” Mannheimer said. A LinkedIn page now includes oppor­tu­ni­ties for stu­dent data such as GPA and rel­e­vant coursework.

Other fea­tures of LinkedIn include the abil­ity to search by com­pany or indus­try and to research a role model’s career path. Mannheimer sug­gested that stu­dents reach out to recent hires at their dream com­pa­nies and ask how they landed the job. She also dis­cussed that when reach­ing out to pro­fes­sion­als on LinkedIn, it is not the same as “friend request­ing” on Face­book. You should add a pro­fes­sional intro­duc­tion and mes­sage to your request for connection.

Face­book and Twit­ter can also be good sources for job infor­ma­tion. Com­pa­nies often have pages specif­i­cally devoted to recruit­ing on Face­book, and there are Twit­ter han­dles that exclu­sively post job open­ings, such as @TweetMyJobs.

Despite the increas­ing rel­e­vance of social media plat­forms in the job search, one stands out. “LinkedIn is going to be the most impor­tant for you right now,” Mannheimer said. Career Ser­vices staff can help you review your LinkedIn pro­file in the same way they offer resume cri­tiques. If you would like assis­tance, sched­ule an appointment.

On a final note, I sug­gest all stu­dents search their name on the Inter­net to see what infor­ma­tion turns up and review their social media pres­ence to find out what an employer might see. Now’s the time to “own” your online reputation!