Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Article: Social Networking For Job Searches

Workshops Teach Students How to Leverage Social Networking Activities: The Eyes and Ears of the Career Services Profession
By Peter Vogt

When CareerBuilder.com asked more than 3,100 hiring managerswhether they use social networking web sites like Facebook and MySpace to research job candidates, nearly a quarter of them said “yes”—and of that group, more than a third said they had dismissed candidates from consideration based on what they’d learned.

But another intriguing finding from the September 2008 study went largely unnoticed:

Nearly a fourth (24 percent) of the hiring managers who said they do indeed check out candidates’ social networking profiles reported that their research had at times helped to solidify their decision to hire a particular candidate. In other words, some candidates’ social networking profiles actually help them land the job, not lose it. Why not harness that phenomenon in your educational efforts with students?

That’s exactly what Melissa Hudson and her career services colleagues at Augusta State University (GA) are doing with their new Get Wired: Tips for Online Networking Success seminar series. Too often, Hudson says, students and career counselors alike fall into the trap of focusing solely on the potentially negative— albeit very real—career-related consequences of students’ online activities. “I felt very strongly, based on my own online networking practices,” says Hudson, “that the use of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace can and should evolve to help students make professional contacts in their field of interest, and to broadcast their academic and civic activities in a way that attracts the attention of mentors, employers, and headhunters.”

That’s where Get Wired comes in.

The Get Wired series features three separate workshops. In the first, which was held in January, Hudson and career center colleague Amanda Boland offered “10 Tips for Online Networking Success.” They also covered the basic do’s and don’ts of online networking and introduced students to the increasingly popular professional networking web site LinkedIn. The second workshop, coming later this month, will cover “Safety and Security in Online Networking” and will feature guest speakers from ASU’s Counseling Center and the ASU Information Technology department. Finally, a “Get Hired!” seminar in mid-March will focus specifically on online networking as it relates to the job search. Hudson and Boland will offer resources and tips, and two guest presenters—one an alum, the other a local industry leader—will offer their takes on social networking and the job hunt.

“The reality of today’s job search is that prospective employers rely on more than your resume or professional portfolio to select candidates who are a good fit for their company.”

The whole idea, Hudson stresses, is to help students focus not only on what shouldn’t be in their social networking profiles, but what should be. “The reality of today’s job search,” she says, “is that prospective employers rely on more than your resume or professional portfolio to select candidates who are a good fit for their company.” More Interest—and Confidence Hudson says it’s too soon to gauge the influence of the Get Wired workshop series. But she has seen one “signature impact” already: a change in the perception of online networking in general.

“When I first began talking about the online networking skills, I encountered many students who had sworn off Facebook and other networking sites because their experiences had been negative or unproductive,” she says. “After working with students in my degree areas, showing them how to contact professionals for informational interviews or professional advice, my requests for help with networking have increased.”

So, too, has students’ confidence, Hudson stresses.

“They’re encouraged by our example to use their accounts—and to create accounts on professional networking sites—that give them a professional profile.”