At colleges and universities across the country, Facebook is often the pulse of campus social life. And with students being so well-versed in social media, it makes sense that they are using sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter more and more to anchor their job search.
According to a recent survey, 28% of college students said they plan on seeking employment using LinkedIn, up from 5% from last year's survey. More than 7% said they plan to use Facebook to look for a career post-graduation. The survey, "Class of 2011: Insight from the Emerging Workforce," was conducted by employee recognition provider I Love Rewards, and Experience, a career-services network, through an online questionnaire of 8,088 students nationwide, and included students with a primary focus on graduating in the next one-to-two years.
Razor Suleman, founder and CEO of I Love Rewards, said the effect of students relying more on social media is also having an effect on employers. Companies are posting jobs in places where their prospects are frequenting.
"Some of our customers build an 'employer brand,' and generally use their own employees to recruit," Suleman said. "The recruiters talk and social media is what facilitates those conversations."
From a recruiting point of view, social media has complicated things, according to Matthew Rothenberg, editor-in-chief of TheLadders.com. Companies are seeing a higher volume of applicants due to the simplicity of applying for work online, Rothenberg said.
"A core thing to keep in mind [for applicants] is to start with a strategy, not a specific tool," he said. "Start out with a clear idea of what you want to accomplish—you want to tell a pretty consistent story across varying social networking tools."
Also, all applicants should assume that potential employers are checking up on them on the Internet, just as an applicant would research a prospective employer.
"Do your homework, and expect they are doing theirs," Rothenberg said. "The same rules of etiquette apply online as they do to any other sort of professional interaction. You want to be courteous. You have this powerful broadcast tool, so use it wisely—especially if you are fresh out of college."
Social media also allows prospective employees to go straight to their companies of choice with a more streamlined approach, he said. Students that are looking for jobs should focus on a maximum of ten companies they are interested in, and really take the time to learn about them individually.
"Social media really allows students to assess companies and learn about them," he said. "Then, connect with fellow classmates or alumni and make a better effort [to learn and connect with the company]. It allows you to get deeper and do your best to get interviews with those companies."