Is Hiring a Social Media Savvy University Grad a Misnomer?
With the help of a local placement co-ordinator we received a number of resumes from 4th year students with the typical cover letter and resume. Things don’t seem to have changed much in 20 years. Most were well written although one was a cut-and-paste gone wrong as it still had the name of another company that the candidate was “excited to join”. He also listed “attention to detail” as one of his strengths. All included their various work and study abroad experience and a few added their GPAs.
So here’s where I was surprised. Only one of the 10 cover letters listed a LinkedIn account and three others talked about their experience with social media. Really? All of the candidates are studying either marketing, commerce or are in the MBA program. Do they not teach social media in these programs?
You can’t open the Forbes, FastCompany, the Globe and Mail or the New York Times these days without seeing something about social media in the workplace or social HR. In fact Forbes called 2013 “The Year of Social HR” and Social Media Camp is dedicating an entire stream to the topic.
In the end I interviewed 4 candidates and indeed they all had some level of social media experience (mainly Facebook) but most of them did not have LinkedIn or Twitter accounts. I have spoken on several occasions to post-secondary students in Victoria and up-island and was surprised to find how few had LinkedIn accounts. Here’s what I would recommend to university and college students, especially those studying anything to do with business.
- Open a LinkedIn account and complete it with as much relevant information as you can. List any special projects you are working on, awards you have won and post any presentations you have made (PowerPoint or video). Start connecting with classmates, friends and those you have met in the business field.
- Start a blog. Tumbler or Blogger are fine. If you have the savvy to create a blog on your own domain even better. A number of the students I interviewed had blogs, mainly sports or fashion related, and that’s fine. Talk about what you are passionate about, but again keep in mind that this is a public forum and the content will be there a long time, even if you delete it.
- Most are already on Facebook. My recommendation here would be to check the privacy settings on your account. A few of the candidate’s accounts were completely public.
- If you are inclined to use Twitter then go for it but consider carefully how you present yourself in a public forum where the content is stored forever (that’s a long time).
- And if you’re not learning about social media as part of the marketing strategy mix, then buy a few books on the subject and start reading. Actually one of the candidates said he read “UnMarketing” (he got points for that).
Why All the Fuss?
Because 20 years ago you wouldn’t send a marketing student out into the world without them understanding concepts or tools like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, brand equity, direct mail or GRPs. Today social media is as ubiquitous as the telephone and will be a part of the workplace or potentially the focus of their job, in our case. Those who can demonstrate social media knowledge or better yet savvy will have a distinct advantage in a competitive job market.
What say you employers – do you look for some level of social media knowledge when hiring?