Advice for New Graduates: How to use social media while looking for work, and for your job

This post was originally published as a guest post by Katherine Kilpatrick on Washington & Lee’s Alumni Perspective blog.

Social media is a wonderful thing – from a personal standpoint it allows you to connect with old friends, spy on ex-boyfriends, keep in touch with family and stay updated with friends who don’t live nearby. From a professional standpoint, it can be great as well – a way to find new opportunities, network and stay up to date on your industry – but there can certainly be some pitfalls. It’s important to approach social media with purpose:

When you are looking for a job:

I have interviewed tons of folks for positions at my firm, and the first thing I (and lots of those in my position) do when I receive a promising looking resume is to Google that person’s name. It’s amazing what you find out about someone through the Internet – I’ll often have full access to their Facebook photos, Instagram account, Pinterest page, Tweets (and Twitter photo), past/current blogs, YouTube videos, awards in high school, mentions in the school paper, etc.

You’ve probably heard this before, but the best advice is: clean it up. Untag yourself from compromising photos and check to make sure all of your public profile settings are appropriate. Make everything private that you can but make sure that anything you have online is ok for recruiters to see. There are many ways to get around privacy settings.

The good news is, this search is available to you as well. Before you go to an interview, Google who you will be meeting with. Check out their LinkedIn page, Facebook, blog posts, Tweets. Have they been quoted in the news? Don’t just check out the company’s homepage and stop there – dig deep. For instance, if you Google my name, this blog and others will come up in the search, yet few candidates mention that they’ve read anything I’ve written. This is an easy win for a candidate.

Show you’ve done your due diligence on who you are meeting with by dropping in some fact you know about them (trust me, it feels creepy but is flattering to those who you are meeting with). Something like – I noticed that you got your MBA at Wharton, how did you end up at this firm? Or, I saw your quote in the Wall Street Journal on upcoming legislation, how do you think that will change the industry? This makes you look smart and interested in the job – two major pluses for candidates.

And once you have a job:

Social media is an absolutely fantastic way to stay up to date on things happening in your chosen field, even if you just want to sit back and soak it in without participating:

  • Many reporters and media outlets are on Twitter and they all tweet their stories. Pick a few that cover your industry and follow them.
  • Join a few related discussion-oriented groups in LinkedIn and see what the conversations are about. Often, folks will discuss current trends in your sector and you can get a clue about the current hot-button issues.
  • Are there conferences happening in your industry that you can’t attend? See if there is a hashtag for the event and follow it on Twitter. Often folks in attendance will tweet quotes and statistics.
  • Set up your RSS feed to follow blogs that cover your industry – bloggers often have a much more frank, easy to understand way of explaining major activities than more traditional news outlets.

In the end, social media has a lot to offer those starting out in careers. Good luck!


To Connect with Katherine:

Phone: 212.840.1661
Twitter: @kilpatrickk
Linked In: Katherine Kilpatrick