Student Tips: How to Use Social Media to Find a Job

by Ben Kissam

Social media is an amazing tool for finding and landing your first job out of college. Not only can it help you discover potential opportunities, it can also help those opportunities discover you. In fact, as many as 84 percent of companies use social media to recruit and hire for jobs, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

But there’s a difference between using social media and knowing how to use social media well—especially when it comes to finding opportunities and getting hired. Here are some tips for students that can help you position yourself professionally and stand out online.

Delete Inappropriate and Old Content

First things first: getting rid of old, outdated, or potentially inappropriate content is something every student should do before searching for jobs.

“This generation of digitally minded students is very savvy when it comes to using social media,” said Allison Oster, public relations manager and an adjunct professor who teaches Public Relations and Social Media in the Department of Communication Studies at Azusa Pacific University. “Yet there is an important distinction between being comfortable with using social media and being intentional about using it with career opportunities in mind.”

When reviewing your social media footprint, try to consider everything from the point of view of a potential employer. Ask questions like:

  • What does each image or piece of content say about you?
  • What overall impression do you get when going through your social media pages?
  • Would you want to hire you?

Doing this with a trusted peer can also be helpful. Oster suggested finding a close, trusted friend, family member, or mentor who can help act as a social media accountability partner. “Ask them to look at your posts with a critical eye and provide you with regular feedback,” she said. “Are you posting content that truly reflects who you are and your values?”

Follow Influencers and Pages in Your Industry

Social media allows you to connect with people who already do the work you’d like to do one day. It’s also a great place to learn about available positions and trends in your industry. To get involved and learn new things, consider following influencers and topical pages in your chosen field.

One easy way to do this is to search through relevant hashtags. For example, if your goal is to find a marketing job in Los Angeles, try searching the hashtag #losangelesmarketing. You might be surprised by how much relevant content you find. It’s wise to do this type of research across all the social media platforms you’re on.

Pay particular attention to LinkedIn. It’s not only a social media platform but an active job board where thousands of companies post work opportunities and information about themselves regularly. It’s a fantastic resource for those who know how to use social media and want to network in their industry. LinkedIn is also used by recruiters, so in addition to keeping your profile up to date, make sure you add content and join in the conversation. Reshare articles, news, reports, or other content relevant to you and your chosen field.

Besides LinkedIn, focus on the platform(s) best suited for your career interests. For example, artists will likely have the most success on visual platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok.

“To build a successful page you will need to have consistency in posting,” said Tony Bancroft, an assistant professor in the Department of Cinematic Arts at APU, well-known animator with more than 30 years of experience, and an active social media influencer in the animation industry (you can find him @pumbaaguy on Instagram and @pumbaaguy1 on Twitter). “Also, you’ll learn quickly which posts are more liked than others. Build your audience based on what you want to put out into the world and create your own brand. Building a following does matter, but don’t let it go to your head. Your followers are like agents working for you to help recommend you for jobs, support your ambitions, and inspire you.”

And remember, it never hurts to send a polite message to see if someone’s hiring, either—they might just be flattered by your communication and query. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and attempt to make a few inroads.

Just Be Yourself

Social media is a great opportunity to brand yourself. It’s a place where you can upload or link to your portfolio, share your résumé, or create content that lets people know what you’re all about. However, at the same time, you want to avoid over-branding or trying too hard to seem employable.

“I know of large numbers of artists getting jobs at Disney, Pixar, Netflix, etc. because their work was discovered first on social media,” said Bancroft. “But just as important as it is for the student to post their work, social media is oftentimes the first glimpse into who you really are outside of what your résumé says.”

Here’s a secret that most students only really learn after college: Employers aren’t looking to hire the perfect human being. They’re looking for qualified, educated candidates—ones just like you! Focus on presenting your best self and feel confident in what you have to offer.

Want to learn more about preparing for careers after graduation? Connect with APU’s Career Center for résumé, interview, and networking recommendations and support.