Social media. Web 2.0. Viral age. These are the buzzwords being tossed around in the communications field, and they aren’t going away any time soon. But what does this surge of social media mean for students? Will our technology-driven generation have the upper hand in the cutthroat job search post-graduation? Maybe– if we learn how to use these tools to our advantage.
Out of all the college students I know, I can only think of one person who does not have either a Facebook or MySpace account. We obviously know how to use these networking sites, but do we use them effectively? I’m not so sure.
Several months ago I deleted my MySpace account. I figured it was just another tool employers would use to judge me during the hiring process, and I didn’t want anything diminishing my chances of getting a job. After reading about the dramatic effect social media is having on society, I decided to create a new account on MySpace so that I could stay up-to-date with the constantly changing online culture.
Only this time, I’m being much smarter about the content I include on MySpace.
The layout isn’t cluttered with flashing icons, and no obnoxious song plays every time someone tunes into my page. My site is free of embarrassing photos or lewd comments. Instead, my “About me” section is a short, witty description of myself that will show I know how to use social media without reflecting a negative image. I plan on uploading photos from national conferences that I’ve attended, events I’ve helped plan, and study abroad trips.Eventually, my profile will become a virtual portfolio, one that I will be happy to share with employers to showcase my knowledge of new technology.
It’s a coincidence that I decided to makeover my online image recently. Up until two days ago, I thought college students dominated the social networking world. Apparently this is not the case. A research study about Facebook states that the site is projected to have 60 million active users by the end of this year. 75% will not be college students. Is Facebook going to be considered a professional networking tool? It looks like this is going to be the next trend, especially in public relations.
So where does that leave us, the students?We joke about being addicted to these sites. We spend hours browsing our friends’ pictures and comments, but if we can utilize these tools to market ourselves, won’t we be more competitive in the job search?Not only will we build a tangible brand, we will be engaging in the viral age, which will significantly benefit our future employers as these buzzwords continue to influence the business world.