How college students use social media to seek out jobs
College students use social media almost every day, but when it comes to their job search, over a third said they didn’t use social media at all, according to a survey by College Pulse.
And we should be digital natives ?!
“I don’t understand what the hype is about not doing social media. I think everyone should be there,” says college senior and influencer Kahlil Greene. “It is the way of the future and if you are not there you will be left behind.”
Kahlil Greene, a Yale University student known as “The Gen-Z Historian” on Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn.
Source: Kahlil Greene
Greene posted his first TikTok video on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021, and the rest was history – literally. Studying the history of social change and movements at Yale University, he used TikTok to educate people about black culture and little-known stories, and garnered 1.3 million views pretty quickly. Now with more than 500,000 followers on multiple platforms (including Instagram and LinkedIn), Greene will trade in his post graduate plans to work in counseling for a job in public education.
“I think that’s the thing that people don’t realize, that social media is everywhere and goes with every lifestyle you want,” says Greene.
In today’s working world, the tailor-made one-page résumé and cover letter seem to fall by the wayside. Social media offers a way to stand out beyond the traditional recruiting process, whether or not you are an aspiring influencer.
In 2021, according to the social recruiting company CareerArc, up to 92% of companies will be using social media and professional networks to find jobs.
“Having a resume is great, right, but everyone has LinkedIn,” said Korin Harris, senior recruiter at Academia.edu. “So fill it in.”
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For most jobs, there is data and accomplishments that need to be shared that recruiters like Harris want to see.
According to LinkedIn, three people are hired every minute via the professional networking platform.
LinkedIn can be the first stop for an online resume, but it’s not your only option. Between Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube, the ways in which social media can be used for networking, job search and career start are endless.
Tony Bancroft, a nearly 35-year veteran of the animation industry, says he cannot stress enough the importance of social media in personal branding. Bancroft has more than 114,000 followers on Instagram and opened an account in 2015 to share its illustrations and stay relevant in the industry.
Bancroft, who is also the program director of the Animation and Visual Effects program at Azusa Pacific University, says he always tells students, “Really curate the content you publish so that it is unique.”
And his advice works.
From working on a Netflix short film to doing commissioned work, Bancroft has seen a number of his students being contacted directly on social media for projects large and small. Creating a personal brand doesn’t have to be scary, difficult, or time-consuming. You just have to be yourself. Consistent posts, a few follows, and some direct messages can go a long way in opening doors.
Third year film student Trevor Dunnigan sees it this way: “The only thing you can do is help your case.”
In fact, almost half of employers say they are less likely to call a candidate for an interview if they can’t be found online – and that’s only for office jobs.
As an experienced “gawker” on film sets around Chapman University, Dunnigan often takes on the setting. And “I don’t get someone’s business card. I get someone’s Instagram,” he says.
With just a few taps of a finger on a person’s profile, from their main feed to their followers’ tab, Dunnigan can assess: what caliber of productions is this person working on? How often do you work? Who do we both know
Trevor Dunnigan, Chapman University student, aspiring cinematographer.
Source: Ian Lock
Instagram Stories can be especially helpful for candidates if you don’t want to risk damaging your personal account or creating a separate “professional” account. Post a 24-hour story to thank your colleagues at the end of a project or create a permanent story highlight to showcase the completed projects. Highlights are in the perfect place for your most valuable content, directly below your biography and above your posts.
“There actually is a drone company here in LA that I was promoting [to] based on her Instagram story, “says Dunnigan. Before hitting send, he remembered thinking,” You know what, the worst thing that can happen is you don’t get in touch with me. “
Dunnigan never heard from the company but is glad he applied. If he hadn’t followed the company on Instagram, he wouldn’t have found the opportunity. And you never know – maybe a job opportunity doesn’t work now, but it could lead to something later.
For Greene, too, Instagram is currently his favorite platform, “because it offers everything that TikTok can do and more.”
No matter which social media platform you use, experts recommend following influencers and pages in your industry. Stay up to date. Introduce yourself to others. Ask questions. Social media can help recruiters discover you – and it can help you discover them, too.
Makena Yee is a senior at the University of Washington in Seattle. Last year she was one of only four TikTok “campus representatives” at the university.
“When TikTok first came out people were like, ‘Oh, TikTok is for weirdos’ or whatever, but I love TikTok because I thought it was fun,” says Yee. “One day I stumbled upon this video that said, ‘Hey, if you want to work for TikTok, you should definitely apply’ … So I decided to take this risk.”
Even now that Yee’s days as a TikTok employee are over, her risk continues to pay off.
In May, as part of the soft launch of the TikTok Resumes pilot program, Yee released a 60-second video that she believed led to more than 15 job requests and around six interview requests. Some of the responses she got were: “Send this TikTok to my team”, “Hire her !!!!” and “A way to lead by example for others.”
Makena Yee, senior at the University of Washington and former TikTok College representative
Source: Monica Yee
Within the first 48 hours of the pilot’s official launch in July, users had already submitted 800 videos with #TikTokResumes in their subtitles, according to TikTok.
Right from the start, as a short-form video app with built-in creation tools, TikTok had of course created new ways for recruiters and potential recruits to discover talent and opportunities. The Resumes program went one step further and enabled job seekers to apply directly for positions at companies such as Chipotle, Target or Shopify.
The submission deadline is now up – and Yee is more than preoccupied with school, multiple jobs, and two Instagram blogs of her own – although the senior says she would definitely use her video résumé again if a company was looking for creativity.
Anyone can use social media to their advantage by following a few simple tips:
1. Embrace the tools. Before 500,000 followers, Kahlil Greene had no design experience. He now runs three popular accounts himself and uses the platforms’ built-in capabilities, as well as design apps like Canva and Bazaart. Of course, you don’t have to become a “Gen Z Historian” like Greene did to make a career on social media. There are more free tools out there that make career building easier than ever.
2. Do your research. What can you do to support what your dream business is already doing? Find the company’s social media accounts, find out what values you share, and make it all a part of your pitch. Your job search will be more successful if you know which platforms are most popular in your industry and can speak intelligently about a company in DMs, cover letters or job interviews.
3. Make connections. The connection with employers via social media shows three important characteristics: trust, drive and open-mindedness. You may even be able to reach people who would otherwise not be involved in your recruiting. “I’ve written to a lot of cameramen personally and only asked about little things here and there,” says Trevor Dunnigan. “A kid in film school who’s super interested in [what they do] want to hear about it and they will send you paragraphs. “
4th Show your achievements. Your people-dealing skills may be great, but to get this interview or an official offer, you need to have the right professional skills. Even if you are still gaining experience, post on your social media pages what your experience is as you figure out how to get more. Also, don’t worry if you don’t have a portfolio like Tony Bancroft’s animation students; Using social media to showcase your work in any industry and in any form can get you noticed.
5. Be yourself. “You can have a private life,” says Korin Harris. Stick with LinkedIn if you want, as the recruiter does at work, but at least use LinkedIn. Employers are not looking for the perfect person, they are looking for qualified candidates. Present yourself as you know it.
It’s never too late – or too early – to start building your social media brand.
CNBC’s “College Voices” is a series written by CNBC interns from universities across the country about getting their college education, managing their own money, and starting their careers during these extraordinary times. Sydney Segal is a student at UC Berkeley and is currently an intern for The CNBC Social Media Team The series is edited by Cindy Perman.