The Social Media-Enhanced Job Search: Creepy or Courageous?

kevin grubb NACE Ambassador Kevin Grubb
Associate Director, Digital Media & Assessment at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”.
Blogs from Kevin Grubb.

At the 2014 NACE conference, I heard lots of conversations about social media, recruiting, and job searching. That’s not surprising; social media is still influencing our work and changing it with exponential speed. I found myself often reflecting on the class that I teach at Villanova on social media and creating a professional identity online and whether all that we can do with technology now is creepy or courageous.

In my class, I have every student read the privacy policy of Facebook or Twitter and write a reflection on what they found. If we were taking live polls of my ratings as a professor, I can tell you my scores would drop like a lead bucket as soon as that assignment goes out. Doesn’t everybody just click on “I agree to (insert website name) privacy policy and terms of use” right away and start the sharing? Ugh!

Facebook Terms of Use

Have you ever read this entire thing?

But, when I read the resulting papers and talk with students afterward, there’s always been only gratitude. What they learned was a mixture of “creepy” and empowering: they’re now aware of what information is out there and start confidently making decisions to be smart online.

“Creepy” is a word I hear often when I talk with groups of students and professionals about social media. I hear it especially in conversations about LinkedIn’s “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature, which shows you just what it says it will. Conversely, when you view the profiles of others, they would be able to know that, too. You can change your visibility in this feature via privacy settings, though I will say I think users should remain visible in almost every case. I’ve heard many good stories about connections getting made and even an interview being offered when two people realized they stumbled on each other’s profiles.

Are there elements of social media that feel creepy? I won’t argue that it can create uncomfortable moments. However, social media can also be empowering, as the students in my class find out together. To get active, to share your goals and your ideas (without “oversharing”—either emotionally or just by posting too often), and to connect with people about those ideas: that’s a powerful possibility social media creates.

It’s a big, big stage we’re on when we talk about sharing ourselves and our stuff on social media. Anyone who realizes the magnitude of reaching thousands or millions of people with a few taps on the keyboard and a mouse click is right to say, “I should really think carefully about this.” In my experience talking with people, that also scares the heck out of them. What if I share some things that really matter to me and nobody cares? What if someone bashes my ideas? Do I have anything worthy enough to share?

For students, being active on social media in a professional manner takes courage. It’s trying something new. Just like putting on a business suit for the first time felt strange, so does putting on your digital suit when you interact on social media. Did it take them a little courage to make the first introduction to someone at a networking event or career fair? So, too, does it take courage to ask for help from alumni on LinkedIn, to tweet to professionals they think are doing great work or to write a blog post?

Perhaps the social media-enhanced job search is part creepy and part courageous. For now, I’m in the courageous camp. NACE blog readers: What do you think?

Facebook: The One Place Organic Is Not a Selling Point

Megan WollebenMegan Wolleben, Assistant Director, Career Development Center, Bucknell University
Twitter: @MeganWolleben LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/meganwolleben

Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach by Social@Ogilvy

When I first saw the above article on Twitter I favorited it; not because it was my favorite piece of news but because I wanted to keep my eye on it. It’s been in the back of my mind rattling around since and I was thankful for the reminder, and thoughts it provoked, when I saw a friend and colleague (the ever-awesome Shannon Kelly of UPenn) start it as a conversation in a LinkedIn group of which I am a member.

The news about the “end of organic reach,” made me feel a little better about myself. Until it was spoken aloud I was left wondering if it was just me. As our post reach numbers hit all-time lows I thought, “Was it something I said?” And while it’s always nice to know it’s not only you, the outcome is still not ideal. We all noticed the changes and probably, in some small way, knew (or feared) what it meant, what was coming.

As the article points out:

In 2012, Facebook famously restricted organic reach of content published from brand pages to about 16 percent. In December 2013, another round of changes reduced it even more.

But destination zero? The conversation on LinkedIn mentions the concern for smaller businesses and non-profits which touches on one of my major issues: Facebook treats all pages as the same. And by the same, I mean as big brands: GM, Coke, Nike – brands with BIG budgets and BIG agencies behind them. Regardless of what side of the table you are coming from, big business or career services, I think we should be upset about the fact that what “destination zero” essentially does is blocks your content to existing fans unless you pay. “Your Facebook Page’s Organic Reach Is About to Plummet,” article from Social Media Today raise a very poignant question: couldn’t Facebook somehow allow existing fans to be reached via organic means, and worked out a way that businesses pay to reach new fans? We all worked hard to get these fans. At my career center we paid for ads on Facebook to attract fans to our page. Now we are essential being forced to pay to communicate with existing fans, and any new ones, ad infinitum.

I keep asking myself, should we just leave Facebook? Or should we pony-up and pay for reach? When we created our Facebook page it was not driven by organic reach or ROI. It was about having a presence in a space where our students were (and still are) active. That is the same reason we hang up posters outside of the cafeteria. Facebook allowed our office a space for quick updates on an easy to navigate platform that students check frequently.

I found it so easy to jump in to using Facebook but I’m hesitant to jump out and I’m not sure why. If you asked me yesterday, in a fit of frustration, I would have said I wanted to give up and delete our page once and for all. Is anyone considering this? I know what’s pushing me out but I’m not sure I know what’s keeping me. What’s keeping you (and your career center) there?

 

NACE Flash Poll: Will Social Media Replace the Resume?

kevin grubbNACE Ambassador Kevin Grubb
Assistant Director at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”

The use of social media in recruiting is a hot topic that’s not cooling down anytime soon. College recruiters consider a candidate’s online presence carefully, and college students use social media to learn about and connect with employers of choice.

A 2012 Forbes article, Facebook Can Tell You if A Person is Worth Hiring, cites research from Northern Illinois University which “suggests a person’s Facebook page can predict job performance and academic success.” This PCMag article discusses Klout’s possible influence on hiring decisions. And, of course, we all know how influential LinkedIn has been in recruiting lately. All of this talk has many speculating that “social media is the new resume.”

So, NACE blog readers, weigh in: do you think social media will replace the resume? Vote in the poll and share your thoughts on the future in a comment!

The Trouble With Job Postings

Janet R. LongJanet R. Long
Principal, Integrity Search Inc.
Blog: http://inyourownvoice.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janetrlong/
Twitter: @IntegritySearch

Teaching students to navigate and reply effectively to job postings—whether through internal referral systems or external job sites—is a tenet of most career development curricula. There are valuable skills to teach, from developing pointed, persuasive communication to learning to think from an employer’s perspective.

The question is, do these skills go far enough?  Are we preparing today’s emerging graduates to become tomorrow’s passive and complacent  job seekers? The trouble with job postings is that they represent only a snapshot of potential opportunities out there. What’s more, they drive large volumes of traffic to a relative handful of jobs, creating instant and intense competition for every role.

When working in private practice with mid-career job seekers, I encourage them to use the 80/20  rule when it comes to postings. That is, to spend about 20 percent of search time replying to advertised opportunities, and the remaining  80 percent using these postings as a springboard to inform a more pro-active approach.

It’s not too early to give our students the gift of this perspective.  Beyond first-destination landings, it will empower them to propel their efforts beyond the too-frequent black hole of applicant tracking systems designed to weed out rather than invite in.

Here are three ways to help our students look at and leverage job postings to get ahead of the curve:

1) Target employers of interest. Never mind if there’s not a current posting related to a specific area. If this employer is in hiring mode, more relevant roles may develop at any moment. Encourage your students to follow companies on social media, seeking  informal introductions to  internal recruiters. This helps the recruiter as well, who is often measured on metrics such as “time to fill” open roles. Having a talent pipeline for tomorrow’s openings is a strategic advantage—and it allows for informal dialogue before a cast of thousands applies to a specific posting.

2) Looks at what’s trending. On Twitter and beyond, the advertised portion of the job market is a researcher’s paradise! For instance, your students can look for common job titles and descriptive language, even in areas outside of their target geography. This gives them the right vocabulary to use when seeking out networking connections as well as to suggest potential titles and skill areas on their own resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

3) Go for the bold.  Many students already have a dream company in mind when they come to you for help and guidance. Take a tour together of the company’s website and job listings, Twitter feed, LinkedIn page, etc., and help them learn to identify challenges waiting to be solved by a smart, passionate new graduate. Show them how to put this insight to use with existing institutional resources such as alumni networks as well as their own emerging networks. Sometimes it pays to take a risk and reach out to higher-level individuals—it’s an old hiring tenet that you can get referred down the food chain but rarely up!

Have your students tried these techniques?  What are some success stories?

Career Coaching Notes: Social Networks Beyond Networking

Rayna AndersonRayna A. Anderson, Career Advisor at Elon University
Twitter: @Rayna_Anderson
LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/RaynaA
Blog: RaynaAnderson.wordpress.com

We are currently living in the instant information age: a time when we can learn anything with the simple click of a button. But with this more accessible knowledge comes the increased expectation for everyone to actively participate in information sharing. Social media users have become reporters, commentators, and critics of the most recent advances, so it’s no wonder why more and more people are taking to their social network accounts to learn the latest news. 

Not only has technology changed with way we communicate but it has changed the future of the U.S. workforce.  So much so, that it has been estimated as many as 65 percent of grade schoolers will go on to have jobs that do not yet exist. So what better way for college students to stay abreast of industry changes than by engaging in online career conversation! How many photographers would have been better prepared had they known that cell phones would someday include quality cameras? How about social media’s impact on news stations, magazines, and even the hospitality industry?

Beyond the celebrity stalking, hometown gossip, or superficial brown-nosing, social media can greatly impact a student’s chance to kick-start their career. These outlets provide, not only access to professional contacts, but also great opportunities to establish oneself as a knowledgeable and invested professional. Additionally, companies have come to value visionaries that can help keep their businesses afloat in changing tides. Participating in Twitter chats, sharing articles via Facebook, contributing to LinkedIn group discussions, and even blogging can be great ways for students to collect and contribute to useful information.

How often do you encourage students to use social media for career/industry education?

Continuing Professional Development: The Key to Success

Lakeisha MathewsLakeisha M. Mathews, Director, Career and Professional Development Center, University of Baltimore
Twitter: @RightResumes_CC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lakeishamathews/

In today’s microwave culture students have been misguided to believe that great careers are built overnight. It’s true, a decade ago a student could find success by merely completing their academic work and showing up in the career center spring of their last semester and still land a great job. However, in today’s competitive, fast-paced world, the labor force evolves rapidly and students need more than their degree and a few job-search tips to obtain lasting career success. Today’s graduates must embrace life-long learning beyond the classroom in order to reap the benefits of their academic work. Knowing how to develop one’s self professionally and identify the best professional development opportunities is the “new” employability skill for graduating seniors.

In some industries, like information technology (IT), employers have made it clear that education alone will not land you a job with their company. Instead, employers are seeking IT candidates with three attributes: experience, education, and professional certifications. Like IT students, all new graduates who want to thrive in their careers will have to identify the attributes employers in their industry are seeking beyond their degree.

Professional development opportunities are plentiful and include: attending conferences, joining professional associations, registering for MOOCs, reading books, receiving mentoring, volunteering, taking assessments, accepting a leadership opportunity, conducting research, etc. Employability skills are not always learned in the classroom. For instance, attending a conference can teach a student how to network and deliver a professional pitch; becoming involved in a professional association can provide an opportunity to build leadership skills; and reading a book about employability skills or biographies of successful individuals can provide examples and testimonies of successful business behaviors.

Students experiencing barriers to employment can also benefit by working with a career adviser or mentor to create an Individual Development Plan (IDP). An IDP is a great goal setting and professional development tool that can supplement academic learning and increase employability skills. By being proactive, students can gain a competitive edge and remain employable throughout their career.

Resume Ramblings: The Objective

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/marcjgoldman Twitter: @MarcGoldmanNYC

Throughout my 20-year career in this business, I have reviewed more than my share of student and alumni resumes.  At the beginning of my career, an objective statement was a fairly common element on resumes and one suggested by many career counselors.  Over the past two decades, I have heard great debate over this brief introductory statement.  And today, it is viewed by some as the appendix (non-vital organ reference) of the resume.  Some counselors and employers opine that it should never be included.  Others say it can still be helpful to the job seeker to kick off their application document.  And of course, the more astute professionals (or fellow alumni of my Psych 101 course at Cornell), will put forth, “It depends.”

Here at Yeshiva University, my team has volleyed this bouncing ball of confusion back and forth many times.  We decided to take it to the street, so to speak, and survey some of our partner employers to solve this elusive mystery once and for all.  What did we learn from this quickie survey of a small sampling of employers?

  • 43 percent responded that they are fine with an objective that is a one-line statement of the targeted goal of the resume
  • 11 percent responded that they are fine with an objective that is a longer statement including specific candidate qualifications
  • 18 percent responded that they are fine with an objective that is more of a detailed summary of the resume
  • 27 percent responded that they did not want to see an objective on a resume at all

Basically, we noted a diversity of opinions in our survey results, which mirror the myriad views on the subject I have encountered over time.  Where do I stand at this point in my career?  No more stalling, Goldman.  Fess up and proclaim to the World Wide Web your thoughts on the objective.  Here goes nothing…

The objective is – wait for it – OPTIONAL.  I have always believed that and still do to this day.  There are situations when it can be helpful and effective for an applicant, and there are times when it is useless and pure fluff.  Here are a few points related to my philosophy on this “important” topic:

1)      An objective can provide a resume with direction when it might not otherwise have a clear one.

2)      An objective can note the target of a career transition when the resume content only details transferable skills from indirectly related experience.

3)      An objective can help the student with extremely limited experience demonstrate a goal in mind to prospective employers.

4)      An objective can provide the introduction you need when a contact is passing along your resume as a referral to another contact and so on and so on.  Did I just date myself with this obscure shampoo commercial reference?

5)      An objective is unnecessary when there is a strong clear theme to one’s resume.

6)      An objective is unnecessary when you are sending a cover letter in which you discuss your intentions as an applicant.  (Alas, the devil’s advocate in me voices the opinion that many employers don’t read the cover letter, so maybe an objective is still needed.  Ah, the cover letter.  A tale for another blog entry!)

7)      IF an objective is used on the resume, please be specific.  I actually saw one recently that I shall paraphrase as the following, “Looking for a position in the working field.”  Okay, that’s a bit extreme, but you get my meaning.

What does all of this signify in the greater job search scheme of things?  Will the objective or absence of one make or break one’s shot at that dream opportunity?  All I can tell you is that the objective is something quite subjective.