6 tips for student-athletes to utilize social media in their job search
The topic of how companies use social media in screening applicants isn’t a new one. We know that 94% of companies use social media in the recruiting process. Craig Pintens, Oregon’s Senior Associate AD of Marketing/Public Relations, recently tweeted that they eliminated a candidate in their search for an Assistant AD based on what they found on Twitter.
So how can student-athletes use social media in the job search? Not just to avoid having their resumé thrown in the trash, but to stand out in a positive way? To show employers that they are reliable, trustworthy, have integrity and fit into their workplace culture? You can teach a new employee almost any skill, from marketing to accounting to sales, but you can’t teach character and how to make good decisions. Things that employers can learn about you from your social media presence.
We had a great session with a group of senior student-athletes recently on how they can use social media in the job search, and thought it was worth sharing those tips from that discussion.
1. Clean up your accounts. It starts here. If you’ve got profanity, drunken pics, etc all over your social media accounts, nothing else matters. Google yourself to see what you find. Take time to clean up your profiles, deleting tweets, posts and pics that negatively impact your reputation. Start using social media with a plan, today. Lock down your Facebook profile. Employers will expect a private Facebook profile, but if your Twitter account is private they will wonder what you’re hiding. Twitter is a more public, social media platform.
Once you’ve removed inappropriate and unnecessary posts and pictures, go to your bio/profiles. Read it and ask yourself who would find it interesting. Your friends or a 40-year-old hiring manager? Fill your bio with things that show you’re planning for the future. Put that you are a student-athlete, what your major is, when you graduate, what field you hope to work in, some of your hobbies. Make it interesting. Here are tips for writing a good bio. Finally, use an appropriate, clear picture.
2. Create a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is where professionals are. If you’re a student, create an account and start filling your profile with projects you’ve worked on and relevant jobs/internships. Once your profile is set up, start searching for people in whatever industry you hope to work in. You can search by industry and location, so find people in your area or desired area. Connect with professors, guest speakers from class, speakers your athletic department has brought in. Start building a network that you can utilize. At the very least, potential employers will be impressed that you have an account, as only 11% of student-athletes surveyed do.
3. Follow industry leaders. On Twitter, do a search for people in the industry you hope to work in. Influencers from healthcare, business, technology, communications, education and any other industry you can imagine are on Twitter. Find them, follow them, interact with them, retweet them, ask if there’s any way you can help them. Don’t go on social media asking for favors. Ask people how you can help them. Most leaders are willing to offer their time and advice – and maybe a job – but start by offering them your service. A friend asked a popular journalist in a field he wanted to work in if he could help him with spreadsheets (for free). He said absolutely, and after the student proved himself, the journalist started co-writing articles with him. He’s now been published in Forbes and a variety of other outlets. It started by not being afraid to contact people, and offering to help. Do this for companies as well. Follow companies you might want to work for, retweet and interact with them. Don’t be intimidated or scared to interact with people on Twitter. That’s what they are there for.
4. Read industry blogs and websites. One of the best ways to stand out from other students on social media is to use social media like a pro. Want to work in communications? Read communications websites, blogs and articles and tweet them out/post them to LinkedIn. Same for marketing, healthcare, etc. Show an interest in your industry, and show that you’re doing more than just learning about it in a textbook. Show that you are paying attention and engaged with what is happening on a daily basis in the field you want to work in. While employers find tweets about last week’s party, pictures of Starbucks cups and complaints about professors from your peers, they’ll find your Twitter account with links to popular industry publications.
5. Have a unique resumé. This isn’t necessarily social media related, but it can be. Most students (and people in general) create a boring, vanilla resumé in Microsoft Word. One that looks exactly like the other 100 applicants they are competing against. Your resumé needs to stand out. Show initiative and creativity by using a service like Sumry (well worth the $10 per month). There is simply no excuse to have a boring resumé. There are too many tools out there to help you.
6. Have a website. Have a centralized location for your internet activity. Whether it’s having a site hosted on WordPress, Wix or About.Me, have a place that is yours. It’s even better if you purchase your domain name to use on one of these services, but not a must. Have this be a place where you direct people, and link your social media accounts to this page. Spend time customizing it (you can do all of this for free). If you have the time and a plan, start a blog. Show your thoughts on current issues in the industry you want to work in, display projects from class that apply. This a great way to display a bit of who you are, and show your potential employers what you have to offer.
One thing to remember about all of this, is that these things alone won’t get you a job. Your first goal is to get your foot in the door, which all of these things will do. You want to stand out from your competition and show employers that you are bringing in for an interview. Once you’ve gotten through the first phase, these tips can still work to your advantage. 68% of employers have hired somebody because of what they’ve found on social media. Meaning when they put you up against the final 5 equally qualified applicants, social media has been the determining factor in who they chose. We’ve seen this truth with student-athletes we’ve trained.
It all goes back to having a purpose with how and why you’re using social media. You can waste time, just talk back and forth with your friends (which isn’t bad), post a bunch of unnecessary noise, or you can have a reason for what you’re doing online. You don’t have to be a social media expert (whatever that is). You need to have a goal, develop a plan, and execute. Take advantage of the opportunity that social media provides to showcase your skills and your personality to the world.
Fieldhouse Media is a firm dedicated to helping student-athletes and coaches use social media in a positive, appropriate way through education and monitoring. To find out more about us or to join the over 180 schools utilizing our services for their athletic department, contact us today
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