January 31, 2015

Getting a Job in 2016: Social Media Skills and College Grads

Social media skillsTwo very important trends will impact every graduating college senior planning to enter the job market.

First, according to Jobvite, 73% of recruiters have hired a candidate through social media and 93% will review a candidate’s social profile before making a hiring decision.

Second, according to NACE, the top 5 skills/attributes employers are seeking in candidates are leadership, team player, strong written communications, problem solving and work ethic.

While cover letters were once the place where candidates would weave their marketable soft skills into their professional narrative, this is no longer the case. Realizing the treasure trove of actionable data stored by social networks, recruiters are increasingly using the search capabilities of Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to identify, assess and then recruit targeted talent. This is known as 21st century skills of “social recruiting” and, as social recruiting grows in significance, less entry level job opportunities are publicly posted giving rise to the hidden job market.

For college students, proper social media skills are now the cover letter they didn't realize they were sending. Understanding the problem (at least in part), college students believe that simply re-purposing their resume on LinkedIn is the answer. Unfortunately, the majority of these LinkedIn profiles are worthless. They lack the critical elements for effective search, are incomplete and totally ignore the presentation of soft skills. Most importantly, mastering social recruiting is all so much more than simply creating a LinkedIn profile.

The ultimate goal is to be found when an employer taps into social media’s big data function by understanding your personal search metrics and the proper keywords needed to describe your unique set of skills, talents, qualities and aspirations. Going back to the skills and character traits that recruiters value the most, an effective social media presence in the age of social recruiting needs to convey these attributes across networks.

Leadership can be conveyed by highlighting a school project where you were the team lead or an extracurricular activity where you earned a leadership position. Students can show themselves as team players by conveying their athletics or other collaborative team experiences. Showing writing skills comes from blogging about relevant experiences, perhaps even writing about a situation where you were able to solve a problem in a creative way. LinkedIn and Facebook provide a platform where students can list their group and organizational affiliations and then describe their experiences in ways highlighting the soft skills used and developed.

Facebook is a go-to network for social recruitment as well as for social media character vetting so students should use it wisely. Make Facebook public and make it searchable. The most ignored feature of Facebook is the “About” section. College students should be completing all aspects of this section and let Facebook’s Graph Search index the information for potential search. Use keywords to tell your story. Facebook should also be used to post relevant experiences using photos, videos and words. Have these stories reflect your personal attributes so anyone viewing your Facebook page will get a true sense of the person you are.

With social recruitment rapidly growing in importance, an easy-to-find and robust social media presence is imperative. Wise job seekers, realizing recruiters are active on social media looking for candidates, take it one step further. They use networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn to actively engage with companies, groups and organizations. This increases their overall network reach and their chance of being found by recruiters. Follow key people and companies on Twitter and track what they have to say. Find Twitter chats focused on your areas of interest and engage in the conversation. Make sure your Twitter profile sends the right message and links to your personal website or LinkedIn page. This way, people who click on your handle will be able to navigate through your information and make their assessments along the way.

When looking for a job, most college students will join LinkedIn and then start sending out resumes and cover letters focusing on experience they simply don't possess. Worried about their other social media getting in their way, they will lock down or delete their personal social media accounts completely. The truth is photos of drinking and other social activities are not nearly as detrimental to one’s interests as not being found online at all. On the other hand, enhancing social media by posting the full spectrum of your life’s activities, interests and pursuits while being SEO sensitive seems to be the only way to go in the age of social recruitment.

Alan Katzman is a social media expert and the founder of Social Assurity. Social Assurity works with students on customized social media training to maximize the students' opportunities and use social media to their advantage. He is an entrepreneur and former attorney with an expertise in law, technology and software, compliance, human resources and investigations. Katzman has lectured extensively on the topic of social media optimization for students and parents, has published numerous articles on the topic, and is considered by the media as a pioneer and an authority on social media for today's youth.

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