Tips from the Future: Social Media & You

Today’s post is from my friend Jenn Whinnem, who is a corporate communications pro.

Jenn Whinnem
College students and recent graduates: do you plan to have a job someday? If so, ignore social media at your own peril. According to a 2009 report, 45% of employers are screening social media profiles. Sure, you can hide your Facebook profile and photos, but why not replace it with information about what a star you are at your field of expertise?

When I worked at Golden Compass, Inc., a staffing and recruiting firm, one of my unofficial duties was to talk to college graduates who were looking for work.

I talked to a handful of grads, and quickly discovered they were pretty unfamiliar with social media for business.  Profile on LinkedIn? Someone at the career center told them to get one, but they didn’t know what to do with it.  Twitter account? Hadn’t really bothered with it – Twitter sure seemed kind of stupid! Blog? No, what would they blog about?

Here’s what I told these grads they were missing, and this is only from a job-hunting perspective:

  • LinkedIn: The ability to see your network’s network and find meaningful connections. Got a company you want to work for? Easily see if you have connections to that company.
  • Twitter: Twitter is a goldmine for meeting more people in your field. I have connected with many professionals in my field globally who were willing to help me with my job search, mentoring, and solving work challenges. Recruiters are also on Twitter, and there is even a #jobhuntchat at 10PM EST on Monday nights.
  • Blog: Showcase your expertise in your field, connect with similar professionals (networking possibilities, anyone?), and list the success of your blogging efforts on your resume. (I admit I don’t do this, but it’s still a great idea.).

When you don’t take advantage of these tools, you lose the ability to create a professional portrait of yourself on the web. Popularly this is known as “taking control of your personal brand.” Joe Pulizzi wrote some of my favorite tips for this here.

Let’s say you’re convinced and ready to get started. Great! Here are some of the best how-to resources I’ve found:

Still not convinced? Gini Dietrich made a video for young professionals on the lookout for a job. Number one tip? Form relationships with people inside the company where you want to work.

With more and more companies jumping into social media for marketing, it won’t be long before the majority of their recruitment efforts take place online, too. Get a jump on this trend by engaging in the social web. This is the future. It’s time to add it as a friend.

About Jenn

Jenn Whinnem is a corporate communications pro at Zag Interactive, who enjoys sushi and social media – often at the same time. Make sure you connect with her via @JennWhinnem on Twitter.