Phillip Gardner, executive director of the Career Services Network at Michigan State University and director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute, said that many students and young adults have taken to using LinkedIn and other professional-centric social media websites like BumbleBizz, announced in July of 2017, to grow and engage with their network.
“LinkedIn is very useful for students to connect to alumni and professionals in occupations that you are interested in, and learn more, find out what you need to do to enter,” he said.
According to Jobvite’s “Job Seeker Nation 2016” survey, 48 percent of job seekers used social media in the search for their most recent job and 59 percent use social media to research the culture of the company they were interested in.
Additionally, Jobvite’s “Recruiter Nation” survey discovered that 92 percent of recruiters use social media in their outreach, and 87 percent use LinkedIn specifically.
Chris Chavez, a senior studying cyber security and information sciences and technology at Penn State University, used social media to obtain his internship with AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company in Bloomington, Delaware.
“My search for internships was really based off of social media, utilizing things like LinkedIn, gauging your social network to see where you have connections” said Chavez, 21. “It’s really difficult sometimes to stand out to a lot of big companies, and if you have a connection at a company, it’s really something you should utilize. On LinkedIn, you can type in the name of a company, it’ll say, ‘Oh, 600 connections work here.’ So, it’s not a bad idea to reach out to them.”
Gardner said networking on social media, however, is a different experience than the traditional sort.
“In order to use social media effectively a student cannot merely go out and fish, in hopes of snagging something,” he said. “You have to be well prepared; solid resume, defined purpose and the poise to interact with adults, professionally, remotely.”
By using LinkedIn, Chavez said he was able to identify people he knew that worked with the company and take advantage of those connections. He said he values social media as a networking resource so much so that he began to apply it elsewhere in his life.
“I’m a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity here at Penn State,” said Chavez, “and in the past, I helped plan generating our alumni database and keeping that up to date with accurate emails and phone numbers and contacts for those people. I started an alumni LinkedIn page, not to say that my sole motivation was to leverage those connections to professional opportunities, but that’s something that’s come out of that and I’ve taken advantage of that, to say the least.”
Chavez said he sees more of his peers, younger and younger, beginning to turn to social media for their networking and career searching.
“Freshmen in college come in and they’re setting up their LinkedIn pages, and that’s something that I didn’t think to do when I was a freshman,” said Chavez. “I didn’t get a grasp of LinkedIn as a social network and how you could utilize it in so many different ways until I was a sophomore.”
Chavez said he plans on taking advantage of social media in his post-grad career search.
“I think it’s best to say that before I fill out an application for a company,” he said, “I will type in that company name into LinkedIn to see if anyone I know through my fraternity, through Penn State, AstraZeneca, through any of the different experiences I’ve had, and hopefully someone I know has worked there and I can give them a call or shoot them an email.”
Gardner, however, warned not to rely on social media solely for job prospects.
“As a job search engine the results are not as positive, yet,” he said. “The problem is that young adults nearing graduation do not yet have well-established work history or resumes, so they are less likely to be picked up in job searches by employers. Having said that, employers are turning to LinkedIn more to curb rising costs of recruiting.”
Gardner recommended honing your networking skills outside of social media to be truly successful.
“It will never replace traditional face-to-face networking,” he said. “Every recruiter will tell you that. You, as a student, need to develop both. Both are necessary; neither alone is sufficient.”