A growing number of college students are utilizing social media and networking to search for and secure jobs.
According to a survey last week from I Love Rewards, an employee recognition provider, and Experience Inc., a career services network, only 5 percent of college students planned to seek employment using LinkedIn last year. This year, however, almost 28 percent of college students intend to use LinkedIn to build a contact network and search for jobs.
USC’s Career Planning and Placement Center has also seen both LinkedIn and Facebook playing an increasingly important role in job searching.
“We don’t have any hard stats yet, but we emphasize that you need to use all your resources when searching for jobs,” said Lori Shreve Blake, director of Alumni and Student Career Services. “I do see a significant trend in that many of the recruiters are going to sites to look for candidates. LinkedIn is a great way to make connections with people.”
LinkedIn functions as an electronic resume, allowing college students and employers to constantly update their profiles. Profiles include sections such as pictures, summary, current work, work history and graduation information.
Some students agree it is a convenient resource.
“It’s a positive thing and will provide more opportunities in today’s day and age with technology. I feel like a lot of students will use it going forward,” said Gayane Karapetyan, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary archeology.
Although Facebook can be used for finding jobs, Marianne Encarnacion, a sophomore majoring in health and humanity, believes LinkedIn is a more useful alternative.
“I see social networking as something informal, but I think it’s a resourceful way to find people,” said Encarnacion. “Since LinkedIn is more formal, I think it’s a positive thing and produces conducive exchanges between people.”
Networking can be critical for landing jobs in today’s competitive job market, according to Henry Jenkins, provost’s professor at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the School of Cinematic Arts.
“Students need to acquire skills at using social media to help them establish, maintain and go beyond their own core network of contacts. Sites like LinkedIn are designed for this purpose,” Jenkins said. “In many cases, professional opportunities will arise two to four degrees of separation [away] from the folks you know personally. Trading such contacts is a way that a cohort of classmates can help support each other’s personal and professional development.”
Jenkins also believes professional social networking is particularly useful to college students who are unsure of exactly where they want to work and live in the long run.
“Using social media also allows students to expand the geographic reach of their contacts, especially for those who are likely to need to relocate in search of professional opportunities but have not yet decided to invest heavily in any given city,” Jenkins said.
To educate students about how to use social media and present a professional image to employers, CPPC has held online webinars in the last several years, focusing on LinkedIn and the significance of personal branding.
CPPC also plans to conduct surveys of graduating seniors and hold focus groups for students to closely examine how social media is impacting the job market.
Lizzie Hares, a junior majoring in neuroscience, thinks networking is a key reason social media is beneficial in job searching, but students need to be educated on how to present a proper image.
“It’s good because it helps networking and building contacts with people you can’t meet [in person],” Hares said. “But, it has its negatives because employers can see bad things on your profile. Networking would be even better if people cleaned up their Facebooks and online profiles.”
College students are not alone in utilizing LinkedIn for professional networking. Employers also use the website to build their online representation and provide up-to-date information about their companies.
A survey by Monster.com, a job-search site, showed that more than 40 percent of employers said they will use “different” tactics to recruit today’s generation and 60 percent of those employers said social networking sites are among the most popular tools to utilize in recruiting are.
Utilizing social media is changing the face of the job market, as it represents a new way of recruiting, according to Blake.
There are other websites that employers use to find potential employees, such as Monster.com, but social networking sites such as LinkedIn allow employers to view profiles that contain information about their qualifications.
“Many employers are preferring to go to LinkedIn over Monster because that’s not tapping into the talent,” Blake said. “Employers are tired of going through resumes to find the right candidate and are becoming more focused in their recruiting methods.”