For job-​​seeking stu­dents, social net­working is impor­tant in shaping their per­cep­tion of a com­pany. But leading experts who spoke to co-​​op and alumni employers on campus on Wednesday said it still ranks below face-​​to-​​face con­ver­sa­tions stu­dents have with friends and class­mates who have real-​​world expe­ri­ence with top employers.

Even a freshman who has never been on co-​​op knows about an employer, if not first­hand then def­i­nitely from a friend or class­mate who has gone through that expe­ri­ence,” Maria Stein, Northeastern’s director of career ser­vices, told employers and human-​​resources pro­fes­sionals from top com­pa­nies throughout the country in a round­table on best prac­tices and recruiting.

Our pop­u­la­tion is dif­ferent from what you will find at other schools,” she added. “The co-​​op expe­ri­ence sets our stu­dents apart.”

The pro­gram began with a pre­sen­ta­tion by an offi­cial with Uni­versum, an employer branding com­pany that sur­veys stu­dents from hun­dreds of col­leges about their career goals and impres­sions of some of the world’s top employers. More than 1,000 North­eastern stu­dents are sur­veyed each year.

North­eastern stu­dents want to be leaders, they want to be entre­pre­neurial and they want to have an inter­na­tional career,” con­cluded Uni­versum offi­cial Karl-​​Johan Hasselström.

He said North­eastern stu­dents buck national trends, which indi­cate that stu­dents in gen­eral favor careers that offer job secu­rity and a strong work-​​life balance.

Stu­dents, he added, are turning more and more to less offi­cial chan­nels to learn more about a poten­tial employer: Rather than log on to a company’s web­site, they are far more likely to ask a friend or peruse social net­works such as Face­book, YouTube or LinkedIn.

Nancy Rich­mond, the pres­i­dent of Vir​tu​al​Ca​reer​Ad​vice​.com and a lec­turer in the Col­lege of Pro­fes­sional Studies who teaches online courses on social net­working and orga­ni­za­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions, said employers could take advan­tage of that new trend by pro­viding infor­ma­tion over social networks.

She said Google Hang­outs, low-​​key video chats that can engage up to 10 people at once and be broad­cast to much larger audi­ences, pro­vide infor­ma­tion about a com­pany and how to apply for posi­tions within the organization.

What’s cool about using a Hangout is how you can share your screen and show a can­di­date how they could apply for a job or learn more about the com­pany,” said Google recruiter Jeff Moore, speaking from a pre­re­corded Hangout with Rich­mond. “Then you could have a hiring man­ager drop in and give more infor­ma­tion. It’s really a ver­sa­tile tool where you can show a lot of infor­ma­tion about your com­pany in one informal platform.”

In his intro­duc­tory remarks, Bruce Ronkin, the university’s vice provost for under­grad­uate edu­ca­tion, expressed hope that the dis­cus­sion would bol­ster the strong ties between North­eastern and the com­pa­nies that employ its co-​​op stu­dents and alumni

This wouldn’t work without the employers,” he said.