How College Students Can Use Social Media to Find Their Dream Job

December 23, 2016

It’s ironic.

 

When a college senior walks into their career placement office and asks for guidance on how to find a job, they’re told to update their resume and prepare a LinkedIn profile.

 

And then the student is taught about the value of “informational interviews” and the importance of building a network.

 

All this is sound advice, if the year was 2004.

 

It’s not.

 

Today we live in a different world. Social media has changed everything.

 

We find, develop, and nurture personal and business relationships online.

 

We join online communities to ask questions, learn from others, and share our successes and failures.

 

This isn’t news to students.

 

They understand the power of social media because this is where they spend much of their time.

 

But most career advisors live in a different world. They haven’t infused social media into their lives other than periodically checking Facebook.

 

And they don’t realize that LinkedIn is only a small part of a smart career search that deploys a social media strategy.

 

Here’s the irony…

 

Students have a deeper understanding of how to find a job than their college career advisors, but neither the student nor advisor knows this.

 

This article will show you how to gain access to the right people in your field so you’ll be positioned to get a job.

 

However, this takes work.

 

It is a lot more involved than simply writing a LinkedIn profile and sending the link out to prospective employers.

 

You will need to research your field, participate on several social media platforms, keep current on changes to those platforms, build relationships with leaders, and provide valuable content.

 

The benefits, however, go beyond finding a job.

 

You can position yourself to become a leader. Your colleagues will look to you for advice and other companies will try to hire you.

 

Here’s a 5-step process to do this:

 

1. Build Self-Awareness

 

2. Develop Your Personal Brand Platform

 

3. Find Your Community & Listen to the Conversation

 

4. Contribute to the Conversation

 

5. Think Like a Media Company

 

 

1. Build Self-Awareness

 

I have a sister who knew at age 3 knew she wanted to be a veterinarian. Throughout high school she volunteered helping animals. After college she attended Penn Vet School and then built an equine surgical practice.

 

Well known social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk knew since fourth grade that he wanted to build businesses. His lemonade stands gave way to a lucrative after school business of trading baseball cards. In college he grew his family’s wine business from $3M per year to $65M. And today he’s building the fastest growing social media ad agency in New York City.

 

Some people are born knowing what they are destined to do. Their talent aligns with their interests and they passionately pursue their dreams.

 

And then there are the rest of us.

 

We search, we succeed, we struggle, we fail.

 

And we keep at it until we discover what makes us happy and earns a living.

 

This is the journey of self-awareness.

 

Since you have your entire working career ahead of you, begin this process of self-discovery now.

 

If you find a career that you love, you’ll be in the minority. Instead of dreading Mondays, you will be excited to get back to work. You’ll have less stress, you’ll be happier, and have more fulfilling relationships.

 

To help you find the right career, ask yourself these questions…

  • What are my talents?

  • What comes easy to me, but others find difficult? 

  • What do I love to do and when I’m doing it, time flies by?

  • Can I turn this talent/passion into a career?

  • If I excel in this field, will I earn enough money to meet my needs?

  • Do I know anyone in this field that will meet with me? If not, do I have any family, friends, or professors who know someone in the field?

After you find a possible career field, start researching.

 

Search Youtube and watch videos. Google it and read articles. Search hashtags in Twitter and see who’s tweeting about it. Search LinkedIn and read posts and articles.

 

Imagine this is the most important research project you’ve ever done. However, instead of working for a good grade, you’re working for a good life.

 

2. Develop Your Personal Brand Platform

 

As you start connecting with people and creating your own content, you’ll need a home base. This is a place where people can find you, learn about you, connect with you on social media, read your articles, and watch your videos.

 

It’s essential to have a LinkedIn platform, but it’s also a great idea to have a personal website.

 

A website gives you more freedom to express yourself.

 

My daughter Bernadette Hopen is a recent college grad currently pursuing a position in business. She has a LinkedIn profile, but also created a website. You can see how her website conveys her personality, whereas LinkedIn recites her accomplishments.

 

 

 

You should also visit personal websites for business leaders in your field.

 

I’m fascinated with social media marketing and I follow Gary Vaynerchuk. His website is a great example how it serves as a hub that connects to all his channels.

 

3. Find Your Community & Listen to the Conversation

 

The best way to learn about your field is by connecting with others. And the best way to do that is by finding communities.

 

It’s easy to find online communities on Facebook and LinkedIn. Simply search “groups” and read the group description. Join it if it sounds relevant. If it’s a private group, request membership.

 

Finding a community on Twitter is a little more challenging. Search key terms and then follow people who regularly tweet with those hashtags.

 

If you can’t find a group, consider starting your own. In early 2016, I was interested in how social media was impacting commercial real estate brokerage and I started a group on LinkedIn called Future of Brokerage. Within a month, some of the top people in the industry were members of my group. It quickly brought me visibility and allowed me to meet many likeminded colleagues.

 

Offline communities will require more time, but you can build deeper relationships face-to-face. Look for Meetups, school clubs, associations, and even consider attending conferences. (A lot of conferences offer steeply discounted prices for students.)

 

Watch the conversations.

 

When you find a community, observe what they are discussing. Read the long discussion threads to discover the issues that are important to them.

 

Try to identify the members in the group who give thoughtful answers and ask questions that elicit a lot of responses. They are the “influencers.” Try to connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter.

 

Research the influencers.

 

Read their articles and view their videos. Read their tweets on Twitter and see who they are retweeting. Follow those people.

 

What are the influencers posting on LinkedIn and what posts are they sharing? Again, follow the people the LinkedIn influencers are following.

 

And don’t forget Snapchat.

 

Snapchat is growing faster than any other social media platform and some savvy business leaders are embracing its reach. If your influencers are on Snapchat, follow them.

 

Your goal is simple. Find the people leading the conversation in your field and see what they are discussing.

 

The next step takes some work and courage, but it will set you apart from your peers.

 

4. Contribute to the Conversation

 

Once you understand the range of issues, find one that interests you and learn about it. And then share what you’ve learned with the community.

 

You’ll be shifting your role from observer to contributor and the active participants and influencers will notice you.

 

Here are some ways to participate.

  • Reply to a comment with a well thought out response.

  • Post a question. I recently posted this question on #Snappack Live (a private Facebook group about Snapchat for Realtors) and it generated a lot of discussion.

 

 

  • Write a short summary of a relevant article or video and link to it.

  • Create a short video.

  • Write an article. I’ve written many articles and they’ve helped build my reputation. I try to spark a discussion and present a new perspective.

  • Create a cartoon. I had an idea for this cartoon and found an artist onFiverr to draw it for $15.

 

 

  • Create a photo with a quote. This photo quote has had 25,969 shares.​ (I use the free tool Canva.)

 

5. Think Like a Media Company

 

Change your thinking about employment.

 

Instead of approaching a potential employer and only seeking a job, figure out how you can also provide value to them.

 

Do this by behaving like a media company.

 

Media companies investigate issues, report news, interview knowledgeable people, analyze situations, and offer their opinion.

 

You can do the same thing.

 

Here’s a case study how Bernadette is pursuing a position in the B Corp field. (B Corps or benefit corporations are companies that have met certain standards to ensure they are helping the environment, serving the local community, and treating their employees well.)

 

Instead of just applying for jobs at B Corps and consulting firms, Bernadette immersed herself in the community.

 

She follows the leaders on social media, connected with many of them on LinkedIn, and is becoming an advocate for the movement by speaking to business students and writing articles.

 

She writes a guest column for her alma mater’s alumni online publication about B corps and leverages the column to visit and interview B corps in the NY area. Bernadette turns her onsite interview into an article which she published on her college website, LinkedIn and Medium.

 

She then tweets about the article and links to it. She does the same thing on LinkedIn.

Within a few months of looking for a position, Bernadette has started to build her personal brand. This will continue throughout her career.

 

Consider doing the same.

 

Immerse yourself in the field you are pursuing and start contributing valuable content. You’ll stand out among other job applicants and you’ll start building your personal brand. 

 

This will become your greatest asset.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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