OPINION: Social media is the newest necessary job skill

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Most students use social media platforms effortlessly. We all know what Twitter and Facebook are and most of us have mastered using them. Many of us spend more time on the apps than we probably should. Social media is becoming more than just an outlet to tell the world how you feel; it’s completely reshaping the job market.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn show employers who you are outside of what your resume outlines and how you act during a formal interview. Employers are looking at your accounts to assess you as a person outside of your credentials.

You can say all the right things and look the part at your interview, but that’s because you’re trying to get hired. Companies know that you’re saying what they want to hear. You may have the qualifications they’re looking for, but that doesn’t mean you have the right personality.

With so many people looking for jobs, companies can afford to be picky. They are checking and rechecking applicants before they hire. How you present yourself online matters just as much as how you present yourself in person. What you put online never goes away, so today it might even be more important.

Social media recruiting is a key factor employers use to find potential employees. In 2012, 92 percent of U.S. companies used social networks and media to find talent. This has gone up from 78 percent five years previously, according to Jobvite.com’s annual Social Recruiting Survey. While perspective employers could scrutinize social media platforms for spelling and grammar mistakes, content is what employers examine and inspect most thoroughly when considering potential employees.

Many companies utilize future employee’s social media to make hiring decisions. Thirty-seven percent browse social media platforms to evaluate potential employees character and personality.

Some companies even base their hiring decision on what is on potential employees’ sites, according to the April 16, 2013 Forbes article titled, “How social media can help (or hurt) you in your job search.” The article states that one-third of employers who looked at applicant’s social media profiles found content that has caused them not to hire.

Inappropriate photos and content on someone’s profile has half of employers not offering jobs to these previously potential candidates. Profiles that also displayed evidence of alcohol or drug use can threaten a candidate’s possibility of getting hired. 45 percent of employers did not hire someone based on that reason alone, according to the Forbes article.

Not only has social media changed the hiring process, but it is also affecting what employees do once they are hired. A Sept. 16, 2014 Fast Company article, “The job skills gap you haven’t considered,” argues that social media is a skill more jobs are incorporating than ever before. Simply hiring tech savvy millennials isn’t the answer.

The majority of millennials only use social media to maintain personal connections and voice opinions. We grew up as social media was growing up itself and have been taught what not to do on social media, but not how to benefit from it. The key is balance. Employers look for candidates that share, “relevant, industry-related content and having followers split between personal and professional, they should project an overall level of engagement,” according to Tom Gimbel, CEO of LaSalle Networks, in the Fast Company article.

Not all majors will find themselves in social media-focused jobs, but the world is changing and having some sort of social media capability can only help. It’s becoming a skill like Microsoft Word or Excel, something you should just know how to use. Whether it’s to advertise, sell, connect or for numerous other reasons, looking professional (even on private accounts) can only help you and potential companies.

You aren’t just representing yourself anymore on social media. Most college students are a part of some organization and represent that organization through their personal behavior. Starting good social media habits now can help you later.

Keeping your accounts organized, clean and professional in college will help you get hired in the future; it can potentially prepare you after getting hired to represent that company’s social media. Getting your company name out there is something every employee should and can do, by properly using social media.

Courtney Burke is a senior in mass communications.

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