Social media could be students’ ticket to landing a job.
Hours once viewed as wasted on social networking sites are now considered productive as students use social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn to build their professional brand and search for careers. Every third Thursday at 4 p.m., Career Services offers a workshop to assist students in setting up LinkedIn profiles.
Both Twitter and LinkedIn are powerful networking tools that career counselor Mary Beth Snell advises students to master early on. Snell predicts they will be lasting tools in the professional world because they have continued to evolve.
“Twitter makes it very easy to know what’s happening in the field if you know the right people to follow,” Snell said.
Junior Hanna Herrin posts articles and follows PR companies on both Twitter and LinkedIn. Though very proficient in social media now, she was hesitant during her freshman year.
“At first I was like ‘I’m just gonna have this page and I’m not gonna do anything with it,’” she said. “But it’s a way to continue the conversation with people you’ve just met.”
Herrin had difficulty becoming accustomed to Twitter as well.
“It was not easy like Facebook, and there weren’t as many pictures,” Herrin said.
Creating a professional social media presence
Career Services advises students to maintain a professional profile. The bikini shots on Facebook should be replaced by business attire, the beach with a professional setting.
“You do not want a blurry photo of you with a drink in your hand!” Herrin said.
Some students struggle to blend their personal and professional lives on Twitter and other networking sites.
“80 percent (should be) professional and 20 percent personal. Otherwise I know students who have two separate feeds,” Snell said.
With Twitter’s looser privacy settings, it’s important for students to be mindful of how they actively represent themselves.
A student’s profile often acts as a first impression.
“If an employer is going to Google, which research shows a lot of employers are doing, even just informally, (your LinkedIn profile) is going to be one of the top results,” Snell said.
Making meaningful connections
It’s just as important to connect with groups on LinkedIn as it is on Facebook. The University of Portland has two alumni groups. Recently, Pilots Guiding Pilots was added as a group.
“Alumni have agreed to enter into a mentoring relationship with students,” Snell said.
Snell recommends scheduling an appointment with Career Services before beginning a mentorship.
LinkedIn.com/alumni will provide a list of where UP alumni are working, a tool that can be used in conjunction with the two official alumni groups.
“I use it with freshmen and sophomores who are trying to figure out what they want to major in, just to show them what they can do with (LinkedIn),” Snell said. “I also use it with upperclassmen who are exploring internships and figuring out what position or company makes sense for them.”
LinkedIn as the new Facebook
Snell recommends using LinkedIn just as often as Facebook. When studying, replace Facebook breaks with LinkedIn breaks.
What you post “shows your passions,” Herrin said. “It’s not just a static profile.”
Constant attention to online presence is key for jobs.
"People have flocked to (social media) and realized how important it is to have,” Herin said. “Just keep building on it.”