So You Want a Job After College? Stop Taking Selfies

beautiful woman selfie in a desolate landscape

Getting a job after graduation is hard. In fact, the U.S. Economic Policy Institute charts that roughly 8.5 percent of college graduates between the ages of 21 to 24 are unemployed.  The stats are bleak, no doubt about that, but there are things you could be doing right now to get yourself ahead of the curve. Whether you’re in school or not, you could be using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to improve your post-college job prospects.

Surprisingly (or to surprise for those of us who work in digital marketing) the one silver lining in an otherwise bleak economy is the social media sector. Despite the overall grim job market, a report by McKinsey Global Institute estimates that social media-related projects could add  between $900 billion to $1.3 trillion to the overall economy. Yeah, you read that right, that’s trillion with a ‘t”.

It’s not brain science, we all know that social media plays a huge role in customer service and marketing efforts for almost every industry. These initiatives add a lot of value to the overall economy by increasing productivity and fluency across departments and consumer marketing. The demand to hire savvy professionals who understand social media and how business can leverage social, is huge right now. In fact McKinsey estimates that by 2018, the United States could face a shortfall of 1.5 million data analysts and managers to cope with the flood of data to their businesses.

Who better to fill in this job gap than millennials. Students who were born between the 1980s to early 2000s, are the perfect candidates for the majority of in-demand digital communication jobs because they’ve grown up on these platforms. In fact, 90 percent of new jobs in the next year will require information and communication technology skills (Think: jobs like social media coordinators and community managers.) Social media was even named one of three top digital skills essential to a company’s success in a recent study by Capgemini Consulting and more than half of companies polled lack social media skills.

This is a virtual gold mine for college grads and digital natives. Most millennials are used to using the Internet for everything from online shopping, online tutoring, and even online grocery shopping (convenient!).  But even so, more young people are getting rejected from these in-demand jobs and it’s not because they don’t have the skills, it’s because they’re using the platform in the wrong way. That’s right, your selfies are turning employers off.

According to new research by the Young People’s Consumer Confidence Index, one in 10 young people have been rejected from a job because of their social media profile. Unfortunately, most young people using social media are more concerned about looking good for their friends than attracting potential employers. This may explain why selfies are rampant on the Internet.

So what’s a college grad to do? For starters, don’t hide

It’s important to keep in mind that whatever you post on the Internet, stays on the Internet. Consider that future employers, family members, mentors, and professors can find the things your posting if they really want to. As much as people hide behind private accounts or protected tweets, these parameters aren’t necessarily keeping wavering eyes off. Even though that might seem a bit creepy, there really isn’t any no reason to hide from social media. In fact, if you know and understand how to leverage social media, you can use them to land a new gig, no resume required.

Here are a few tips on how you can be using social media right now to get you closer to your dream job:

Twitter:

The great thing about Twitter is that you can connect with almost anyone in the world without a gatekeeper. You don’t need to go through Lena Dunham‘s manager to tell her how much you loved her new book. You can just tweet her! And guess what, she might be cool enough to tweet you back.

Twitter is a great tool that can help you connect with people you admire, potential employers, and network with industry insiders. Do you aspire to be a broadcaster, developer, or designer? I bet the people you aspire to be are tweeting their way through life right now. Reach out and begin a conversation! Start by tweeting what you like about their work. A genuine compliment can go a long way and you never know where it could lead you to next. After you exchange a few tweets, go a step further and direct message to get more specific and exchange emails.

Instagram:

Instagram is a great community for showcasing your creative side and connect with other talented creatives around the world. As much as I love cracking up to comedic gems like @thefatjewish, try to branch out from following celebrities or only people you know. Explore hashtags and find users in your city who are creatively leading an industry. Once you find a feed that you love, let them know! Like, comment, and direct message the user to begin a one-on-one conversation. After some time, you can even initiate an in-person meet-up and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to expanding your creative network.

Facebook:

As soon as moms started joining, Facebook became the lame little brother of the social media world. Regardless of how you feel about Facebook, whether you use it or not, be sure that your privacy settings are appropriately adjusted so that unwarranted users aren’t going through all of your tagged photos from last week’s rager. Better yet, go ahead and untag yourself from every photo of you at a rager. Trust me, you’re better off.

Keep your Facebook profile neat, tidy, and avoid ranting status updates. I know it’s tempting to go on a rampage about how much you love/love to hate Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but trust me, it’s better if you just don’t. Remember, there’s no way to delete your account so what ends up on Facebook, really does stay on the Internet forever.

LinkedIn:

If there was a magical golden social media ticket for landing your next dream job, LinkedIn would surely be it. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet, start one (whether you’re job hunting or not). Make sure you have a professional-looking photo uploaded (no selfies!), include a bio, and at least the last job you’ve worked at. If you’ve never been employed, volunteer positions are just as valuable so make sure you include that. Start connecting with professors, past employers, babysitters, your mom’s friends, and anyone else you can think of! You never know who could lead you to your next great gig.