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"How can we use social media for campus recruiting?"

May 19

"How can we use social media for campus recruiting?"

I am asked that question at least ten times each week.

There is no longer a debate about the impact of social media. We have all agreed that it is here to stay. What is, however, up for discussion is how to properly leverage social media for the best impact and ROI.

I recently had the opportunity to deliver the keynote address at one of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) regional “Face2Face” events in St. Louis. While there, I had several very interesting conversations about the nature of social media adoption on college campuses in the context of recruitment. Many in the room felt that students had little to no interest in social media for recruiting based upon the results they had seen from assorted surveys. I disagree and I believe that the issue with the surveys is that they are asking the wrong question. When asked “Do you want companies to recruit you on Facebook (or any other social platform)?” students will invariably say “no.” I think the question that should be asked is “if you are interested in a company, would you like to connect with them via Facebook (or any other social platform)?” When asked this way, the answer is almost universally “yes.”

Many companies have not yet figured out how to drive engagement via social media because they are focused on direct recruitment. Direct recruitment does happen in the social spaces, however, campus populations aren’t interested in it. Companies need to build social media platforms that deliver engaging experiences. They need to provide direct access to recruiters and employees so that students can get answers to the questions they have, when they have them. Deloitte’s Australian firm has done an excellent job of delivering opportunities for candidates to connect with current employees on Facebook (Check them out here: http://www.facebook.com/DeloitteAustralia). Students want to be able to access content that is cogent to their job search and that is perceived as truly value-added. Avoid the mistake made by many companies and don’t crowd the space with what one student panelist in St. Louis termed “useless junk” but rather, fill it with useful, meaningful, and interesting knowledge and information.

Another disconnect we are seeing is in the ways that career centers are engaging students with social media and how they are educating students about social media. Students operate in a 24/7 world in which their demands for information are met almost instantaneously, thus to maintain their value, career centers must find ways to connect with students via social media so they can be available when and as needed by the students. This does not mean that career center staffers have to be online 24/7 to answer questions, but it does mean that career centers need to adapt to the platforms students actively use. Answers posted via Facebook reach not just the person asking the question, but also the entire community and can have the effect of making the career center seem to operate on a 24/7 basis.

Career centers also fill a valuable role as educators, teaching students about the different types of social media and their proper usage. Today, LinkedIn is totally misunderstood, under-utilized, and even ignored by students. LinkedIn is a powerful tool that is often not thought of as truly “social” media by students and experienced professionals alike. Career center staffs need to get students to embrace LinkedIn in their freshman year so they can begin to build strong professional networks as they complete internships and other professional experiences. The need for cooperation and partnership between employers and career centers is more important than ever. As media habits continue to shift toward digital, the paradigm of campus recruiting is also changing. To be relevant, employers and career centers alike must embrace the tools and technologies their target populations are using while continuing to educate students about the tools available to them in their career planning and job search.

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