"Everyone is out there pretending they know what is going on in social media. They are all liars," says Eve Mayer, CEO of Social Media Delivered and recently recognized by CNN as one of eight women on Twitter who will inspire you. Mayer is leading my social media-directed college course and emphasizing that social media isn't a small subsection of the job search: It could very well be the job search.
Social media has aided job searches for years, but the early users of the platform were forward thinkers -- now it is on everyone's radar. Milana Rabkin, ranked as one of the 30 under 30 LA Rising Stars and a Digital Media Agent for United Talent Agency was an early adopter using social media as a leveraging tool to open doors. Rabkin tells my college students of her experiences, and says, "When I was looking for one of my first LA jobs I used Facebook a lot. I knew the companies I thought I wanted to work with, who were Disney, MTV, Nickelodeon, ABC, and I would search on Facebook by company and see who was working there. I would blindly message them and ask them if they had a few minutes to get on the phone and tell me about what they did and help me pass my resume on. I was relentless about social media connections and that helped me land early jobs. "
Rabkin has, over the years, become a hot commodity in the Hollywood social media scene with a specialty in innovative models for funding and distributing original content online. She works regularly with some of Hollywood's biggest names to create unique digital experiences. Her recommendation for the next generation of college graduates searching for work is, "Have no fear. Reach out to people. There is nothing you can't find online. I can almost promise you that you can get in touch with anyone you want to if you approach them the right way."
Luckily, for the newest iteration of job searchers, it is becoming easier to, in fact, contact potential employers and leaders in specific fields. Mayer highlights a fairly clear formula for how you can spark up a conversation with nearly anyone on LinkedIn:
1. Find the profile of a person you want to contact in the company you have interest in.
2. Find what groups they belong to.
3. Join the group.
4. Hover over their name to contact them (and hope they are not the 3 percent that change default settings to not accept contact).
5. Express interest and compliment them on something.
6. Keep your writing to three or four sentences in length to limit scrolling and make a quick, succinct request.
7. Thank them for their help.
Throw Out the Old Job Titles
John Wilpers is CEO of Degrees2Dreams, a company that leverages social media strategies for recent college graduates. Wilpers tells Robin Young of NPR's Here & Now that students are often looking at the current job search completely wrong. Wilpers uses the example of a graduate who was becoming disillusioned with journalism as a viable career option due to the fact that newspapers have lost 30 percent of their jobs. But Wilpers tells the student, "You are not a journalist -- you are a content creator." Subtle changes can have significant impact on the job search. Wilpers says, "I had a Boston University graduate in broadcast journalism, she was approaching graduation and sent out 25 letters to broadcast outlets. Not an answer. So I changed her resume content up to be more directed toward content creator and she got a job within two weeks on a key LA website. Just a different way to present and change the way you look at the world."
Wilpers recommends potential job candidates to follow his five-step process to stand out from the swarms of similar candidates:
1. An Interactive Resume: Your resumes should have two QR codes, the first taking hiring managers to an introductory video of you demonstrating your energy and industry knowledge, and the second taking them to a video of your best reference saying how great you are.
2. A Professional "Me" site: This site serves as your digital portfolio containing all of your best work and thus ensuring that hiring managers who search for you on the web find the "best" you.
3. A Professional Blog: You create a blog about a key topic in your industry that will showcase the skills your resume says you have, demonstrate your knowledge of your field, raise your profile in your industry (because you'll be interviewing the top players), and build your professional network as more and more of the key people hear from and/or about you.
4. A Social Media Marketing Campaign: This campaign promotes you because you follow and interact professionally with the key players in the field.
5. An Informational Interview Campaign: In the final step, you ask the biggest players in your industry for an interview to pick their brains and get their advice on your next career steps. This cements your relationship with them and creates over time a powerful network of powerful people who know you by name, respect your work, and will plug you into the "hidden jobs" market.
The 2013 job market is a changing commodity. It is imperative that up-and-coming students and job seekers know how to truly play up their best assets -- one of which nearly always is to highlight their understanding of current digital life. Job opportunities are out there, but they aren't always as simple as applying with a Times New Roman resume from eras past. Connections, digital skills, and the willingness to engage others will tilt the odds in your favor.