Today’s article is a guest post written by Ed Cabellon, director of the Rondileau Campus Center at Bridgewater State College. Thanks for being a part of our blog, Ed!
Admit it, you’re curious aren’t you? By now, you probably thought that this whole “social media” fad would just go away, like spandex pants and the Electric Slide, but it’s not. Colleges across the country are tapping into these online networks to connect with students in new and innovative ways. As a Higher Education administrator, I always want to stay ahead of the technology curve, since many of our students are already actively involved.
Take control of your Career Services brand and take part in the online community and engage in the conversation. I have had successes with connecting with students using Twitter and I want to share some ideas with you today about how to get your Career Services office connected with the students who are already using these services:
1. Use Social Media Tools as a Compliment, not a Replacement
In 1996, e-mail changed the communication landscape. Calling others on the phone or having in-person meetings were no longer the only ways to get information disseminated. E-mail is now the lead choice of communication in business because of its ease and flexibility. However, even shorter messages such as mobile texts and 140 character “tweets” are emerging as the next wave of communication. In the US, 49% of businesses use some form of social media as part of their repertoire. Get on board, and add it to your brand as well. Remember, social media is about the conversation, not the broadcast message. If you use it, be prepared for the ensuing online dialogue!
2. Use the BIG THREE: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
As I talk to more and more colleagues in Higher Education, I see departments using only one of the big three. In Career Services, I recommend using ALL three. Why? Because each serves a specific purpose. Twitter could be used to share “professional information” to your network (e.g. links to: job opportunities, articles, office hours, conversation topics, etc.). A Facebook Fan Page could be used to compliment your tweets by further explaining what a tweet may not be able to fully convey. Finally, LinkedIn is a powerful tool to help students create their personal and professional brands, complimented by your connections! LinkedIn does a great job working with Career Services offices and often provides workshops and trainings on how to get started.
3. Educate Your Students on the Importance of Personal Branding
Recently, Sarah Needleman in the Wall Street Journal, wrote about how jobs were just “A Tweet Away“, and it’s all true. However, without a proper personal brand, students will meet stiff competition in an ever-shrinking job market. Although I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him, Dan Schawbel has done the best job of educating prospective graduates and job seekers alike about the power of personal branding. His advice should be some of the new cornerstones of Career Services pedagogy. Cover letters and resumes are no longer enough to get your foot in the door. Now that everyone is “Google-able”, what will googling your name come up with? Teaching students to take control of their brand is a necessary lesson in this Web 2.0 and emerging Web 3.0 world.
4. Implement Your Social Media Plan
If you are sold, and are ready to get your Career Services Office on board, here is your to-do list:
- Find other Career Services offices using social media and ask them how they implemented it! Great Twitter examples include the Career Services Offices at The Ohio State University, the University of California Santa Barbara, Penn. State University, and George Washington University… all with at least 1,000 followers in their network!
- Open Twitter, Facebook Fan Page, and LinkedIn Accounts, all with the same username. For example, if you are in charge of North College’s Career Services office your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn URLs could read: http://twitter.com/NCCareers, http://facebook.com/NCCareers, and http://linkedin/in/NCCareers, respectively. Creating these accounts, all with the same username creates consistency and brand recognition that you want to impart to your students as they create their brands as well.
- Find Twitter Followers, Facebook Fans, and LinkedIn connections by inviting your current email distribution lists, colleagues, staff, students, etc. to all three of these pages.
- Find and connect with those on and off-campus employers who use these tools as well.
- Add a “Social Media” space to fill in on your office applications and forms.
- During resume and cover letter critiquing, ask if students use social media and encourage them to connect with you online to continue your in-person conversation.
Finally, add these links to your website, advertising, e-mail signatures and outgoing voicemail messages, complimenting all the other forms of communication that you already use. It may take time, but as you use these tools more and more, you will grow your online network and provide your students and clients the help they need! Good luck and jump in!
Written by Ed Cabellon, Director of the Rondileau Campus Center at Bridgewater State College (MA). Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter, and for more information, read his blog!