9 Social Media Tips For College Students: Class of 2021

by Gerry Moran

Here’re some social media tips for college students. Advice for this year’s graduating class. Future job recruiters are looking for you to join their companies. However, they also have high social media expectations!

I have been a hiring manager for over twenty-five years and have been fortunate enough to use social media to help vet my hires during the past 15 of them — specifically Millennials, Gen Ys and Gen Zs.

To help this Class of 2021 (and other recent college graduates) I have liberally borrowed from Max Ehrmann’s famous Desiderata poem to help this year’s graduates successfully use social media to start and build their careers.

The following advice is a requirement, a need, a prerequisite, an essential and necessary set of things to do – starting today. In other words, a social media desiderata.

Social Media Tips for College Students and Grads

1. Go placidly amid the noise of social media, texting, and intrusive content—and let go of your college habits 

Use social media as a tool for your career in a much different way than connecting with your University friends. Remember, there is peace and career success in the silence of listening – social listening. So, listen first before you start using social media to look for a job, or to network in your current one. This listen-before-you-leap suggestion will help you to interact more relevantly and smartly—ultimately leading to good things.

40% of future employers look for provocative or inappropriate photographs or videos. Source: CareerBuilder

2.  As much as possible be on good terms with those in your social network since they can make or break your career 

Clearly tweet, post, and share your knowledge and point of view so others understand what you are saying in as little as 140 characters. Don’t be arrogant. Listen and share others’ content to forge authentic relationships. You may need their assistance in the years to come.

20% of employers say they expect candidates to have an online presence. Source: CareerBuilder


Related article: Social Media Homework for College Students


3.  If you compare yourself with others’ social media followers or credentials, avoid becoming vain and bitter 

Your social-media and personal-brand currency will increase in value as the years progress. Join forces with others and contribute to the social media community inside or outside of your organization. Don’t be a lone wolf. There will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself in your career. Figure out how to collaborate with them using social media by following, learning, and sharing their content. You will be amazed at the impact this engagement strategy will have.

25% of companies won’t think twice about hiring you if you badmouthed a previous company or fellow employee on one of your social media accounts. Source: CareerBuilder

4.  Avoid loud and aggressive persons, but learn how to network with key individuals, companies, and communities using social media 

Follow others. Join LinkedIn Groups. Read key blogs. Network with those who are influential, can teach you, and can connect you with others. This action will help take your career in the best and highest direction. Leave poor college-aged social-media habits behind. Learn how to expertly connect with the right person, on the right channel, with the right message at the right time to make the best impression. This new social media nuance will help connect you with those that can help you.

85% of all positions are filled without employer advertising, through networking. Source: LinkedIn

5.  Keep interested in your own career however humble, but learn how to build your reputation with social media channels and great content 

Your reputation does not ‘just happen.’ It’s hard work and many seasoned professionals excel at this career behavior. Use LinkedIn to build value in your personal-brand currency so you can spend it to expand your reputation. Take a good picture, summarize what you can do for your new company, and keep on connecting with everyone you meet. Always have a point of view and an opinion. A bigger network is always better, trust me.

49.5% of LinkedIn users have an incomplete profile and don’t show up in recruiters’ searches. Source: LinkedIn

6.  Be yourself, but build your brand to increase your career options 

Remember, you can be yourself everywhere, but there will be consequences. If your potential employer, boss or customer can see your private life on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, then only you are to blame. If you cannot embrace an always-on professional and business persona, then turn on your privacy settings and use two sets of social media accounts – personal and business. You won’t be sorry.

70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process. Source: CareerBuilder

7.  Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth 

The days of sexting and boasting about your partying via your social channels are over. So bury that behavior, or your career may be dead before it starts. Keep the spirit. Lose the self-incriminating pictures and language!

38% of students  had sent and/or received sexts during the past 6 months. Source: ResearchGate

8.  Own your career, no matter how many times it changes 

You will need to learn how to talk the talk on every current and future social media network and platform (and non-social network for that matter) to improve your personal brand and earn the right to move forward.

57% of employers have found content that caused them not to hire candidates for not having a good culture fit with their company. Source: CareerBuilder

9.  Be cheerful. Strive to be happy 

And post your smiling professional-photographed face on your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms! You’ll get 21x more views of your profile if you do!

Do you have advice to lend this new Class of 2021 and their careers using social media? If so, please share below or email me at gerry@marketingthink.com .

Today’s graduates might be worried about tripping on stage while accepting their diploma. However, they can fall flat on their career face if they don’t pay attention to the impact social media can have on their careers. You may not hear this advice at any commencement ceremony this year, so pass this post along to help everyone get a good start in their career!

Gerry Moran is a social media and content marketing strategist who's worked for large global brands and digital agencies. He's spent significant time in hands-on marketing leadership roles with HBO, IKEA, Ralston Purina, Kodak, and numerous digital agencies. He spent his last ten years working at SAP and Cognizant, where he built their content marketing operating models, developed social media training programs, and helped thousands with their LinkedIn makeovers and personal branding strategies.

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