No question about it, social media is here to stay and is increasingly opening the door to a host of new career options in social networking. For the new generation of college graduates relentlessly searching for jobs and internships in the field of communications, this couldn’t be better news. As byproducts of the digital age (and even those who aren’t), hunting for these jobs won’t require a trip down the yellow brick road.
Instead, these new careers in social media can be accessed in a much more obvious way: by utilizing social media as a job hunting tool. Until degree programs in social media become a staple item at colleges and universities (no, I’m not talking about a BA in Facebook Stalking or an MBA in Twitter Spamming), it’s up to graduates to learn necessary skills like navigating breaking news and trends within the digital atmosphere—or in this case, effectively finding a job through social networking.
Unlike former generations, many young professionals and soon-to-be-graduates would be hard-pressed to remember a time when a computer wasn’t readily available and internet access wasn’t a finger-click away. Growing up with digital technology ingrained in our everyday lives makes it possible to have a better core understanding of how social media works. It’s no surprise then that social media job recruiters will expect ‘Millenial’ graduates to be fluent in the medium. This doesn’t mean that just because your crops on Farmville might be flourishing, that you’re a Facebook expert or a prime candidate for a job.
So before you go adding anything social-media related in the ‘accomplishments’ or ‘skills’ section of your resume, there is something to consider first: what professional experience have you gained from your social networking; and is it applicable to your chosen field? Sure, the addition of these jobs is relatively new to the scene, but that doesn’t mean recruiters aren’t looking for first-rate experience.
New job postings appear online everyday, so what exactly should graduates, soon-to-be graduates and even young professionals be doing? It’s simple: build an online presence now.
Take it from Anthony Vito, a former intern with the San Francisco-based PR agency, MSR Communications, who learned first-hand how effective it was to combine social networking with his job hunt. As a college freshman at the University of Arizona, Vito was fairly new to the Twitter scene when he began interacting with MSR on the platform. Through the re-tweeting of industry posts, Vito was able to expand his online presence and also established his account as a resource for PR industry news.
His advice to students still in school? “Figure out what industry you’re interested in now and start researching that industry’s presence on social media platforms.”
Needless to say, Vito more than stood out through his interactions. Joanna Riedl, who is responsible for managing the MSR Communications internship program, took note of Vito’s interest early on and was impressed by what she saw.
“Anthony is a social media superstar,” she said, “When you really understand how to build relationships and engage your community through social networking, it showcases your skills and agencies take notice of that.”
This held true for Vito, who despite his lack of professional PR industry experience and relatively young age, was invited to take part in a summer internship with MSR. It was an experience beyond anything he could have hoped for, and an excellent fit for cultivating his passion and knowledge within the realm of PR.
“I would sum up the process as being quite organic,” Vito recalls. “The thing with Twitter is that it is much less intimidating to Tweet someone than it is to say, email or call them. There is a way which one can network through Twitter, but have it also feel natural and organic, because you are able to connect over commonalities, in my case with MSR, the PR industry.”
Graduates nowadays are learning the hard way that having a college degree rarely, if ever, guarantees success post-college; with the smaller number of jobs available, the competition is fierce and many are left hurting. A harsh reality? Maybe, but there are ways to combat the problem. Jumping on board with social networking is one such way.
“If you determine that there is a value,” Vito advises, “then utilize social media as a networking tool, an informational resource, a place where you can seek job listings, or where you can contact an employer about setting up an informational interview.”
Anthony Vito is not alone in his experience; social media is only going to continue catching on, especially in how its utilized while job hunting. Instead of dreaming of somewhere over the rainbow to find happiness, career hopefuls would be better served by learning about the ins and outs of social networking.
If clicking your heels three times helps you get there, I wouldn’t be surprised– it did work for Dorothy.
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