Stu­dents can use social media to strengthen their pro­fes­sional online pres­ence and bol­ster their chances of landing a co-​​op or full-​​time job, says Mike Ariale, assis­tant director for social media out­reach in North­eastern University’s Career Devel­op­ment office. Here, Ariale offers advice on how stu­dents can leverage these opportunities.

Mind your social image
Ariale points to a 2014 Job­vite recruiting survey, which found that 93 per­cent of recruiters say they review can­di­dates’ social media brands before making a hiring decision—and more than half of those recruiters say they’ve recon­sid­ered hiring someone based on what they’ve found online.

It’s impor­tant that stu­dents know what’s out there about them­selves,” Ariale says. He advises stu­dents to review the pri­vacy set­tings on their social media accounts and to Google them­selves to see if they’re com­fort­able with what the results say about them as job can­di­dates. He also sug­gests checking out a Web tool called Rep­pler, which allows users to mon­itor their social image across all their social media accounts.

Engage with other brands to build your own
“When employers are reviewing your online pres­ence, they are looking for pro­fes­sion­alism and a cul­ture fit,” Ariale says. He advises stu­dents to build up their LinkedIn pages—Northeastern offers work­shops to help with this, but more on that later—and to con­sider starting a blog where they can present more about them­selves and their pro­fes­sional interests.

Part of building that brand, Ariale says, is to follow and interact with people and orga­ni­za­tions on social media. He sug­gests finding people you look up to in the industry and then engaging with them on social media—whether it’s sharing or retweeting their con­tent or responding to their posts.

Ariale says fol­lowing and engaging with a com­pany on social media—particularly one you’re inter­ested in working for—is also a great way to learn more about that orga­ni­za­tion. “Seeing what a com­pany is posting on Face­book, Twitter, and LinkedIn may give you more insight into the com­pany than going to its web­site,” he says. “If you’re being con­sid­ered for a posi­tion there, the hiring man­ager may also notice that you’re retweeting their stuff, and it shows you’re an engaged job candidate.”

When employers are reviewing your online pres­ence, they are looking for pro­fes­sion­alism and a cul­ture fit.
— Mike Ariale

The power of LinkedIn
Ariale says that many stu­dents are ini­tially sur­prised to learn how much using LinkedIn can help them stand out from the pack. “One thing we tell stu­dents as they’re cre­ating their LinkedIn pages is to think of it as a per­sonal port­folio,” he says. “It’s a cen­tral hub for an employer to find out more about you—not only your work expe­ri­ence, but your social media accounts and blogs too.”

Stu­dents don’t have to pay for the pre­mium ser­vice, either, Ariale adds. “LinkedIn’s basic sub­scrip­tion is free and offers stu­dents pretty much every­thing they’ll need at this stage,” he says.

LinkedIn, like other social media plat­forms, can be a great net­working tool as well, he says. But he advises that if stu­dents find someone they’d like to con­nect with—be it to inquire about applying for a job or to learn more about that person’s industry—that they always let that person know how they found them, whether it be via LinkedIn, Face­book, or another plat­form. “The con­nec­tion should be brief,” he adds.

One thing we tell stu­dents as they’re cre­ating their LinkedIn pages is to think of it as a per­sonal port­folio. It’s a cen­tral hub for an employer to find out more about you—not only your work expe­ri­ence, but your social media accounts and blogs too.
— Mike Ariale

Don’t miss these campus work­shops
Stu­dents can go to the NUCa­reers web­site to sign up for a variety of work­shops offered by Career Devel­op­ment, and the entire Spring 2016 cal­endar of events can be found here. The office offers three LinkedIn work­shops: LinkedIn 1 is a begin­ners work­shop for set­ting up an account and learning the basics; LinkedIn 2 is designed to help use the plat­form as a net­working tool; and LinkedIn 3 focuses on taking a pro­file to the next level and building it as a per­sonal portfolio.

The office also hosts “All That Twit­ters Is Not Gold” work­shops, where stu­dents can learn about what employers are actu­ally looking for when Googling them and how to take con­trol of their online image and use it to their advan­tage in the job search. “This is a really inter­ac­tive work­shop, where stu­dents can talk with our staff and each other about building a pro­fes­sional brand,” Ariale said.

Chat in person or online
Ariale also sug­gests that stu­dents take advan­tage of the office’s walk-​​in hours and follow Career Devel­op­ment on social media—Face­book (including the Grad­uate Stu­dent Career Devel­op­ment Face­book page), Twitter, LinkedIn, and Insta­gram—to learn more about career advice and events.