Published on Dec 5, 2012.
As businesses and employers step into the realm of social media, jobs are becoming easier to find and more opportunities are opening up for New Mexico State University students and graduates when it comes to joining the workforce.
The only animal you’re guaranteed to encounter during a job hunt is the mouse attached to your computer.
This is especially true for younger generations whose communication is conducted heavily through social media. Fortunately, many employers have adapted to this technological change and embraced the practice of career networking through social networks.
With steady flows of information literally at your fingertips, this transition has opened up more opportunities for New Mexico State University students and graduates to join the workforce, according to Roseanne Bensley, associate director for NMSU Career Services.
“I personally think it’s easier [to get a job] now than it’s ever been because of technology,” Bensley said. “As the saying goes, ‘knowledge is power,’ but through technology I think the playing field is being leveled out more and it’s more transparent as to where jobs are, how they’re advertised, who’s in charge of them.”
By eliminating newspaper employment classifieds and the inefficiency of direct mail, social networking sites have made connecting with potential employers more direct and multidimensional.
For David Ruiz, social media coordinator for NMSU Career Services, finding jobs through social networks is comparable to the “six degrees of separation,” a theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.
For instance, LinkedIn, a business-oriented social networking site, is a tool that helps people discover connections for a job or new business opportunity by linking somebody’s profile with those of different employers.
“If you want to reach someone, you just have to manage your networks and get to that point,” Ruiz said. “Sometimes it takes less than 6 contacts.”
“That’s the whole reason why people want to get into LinkedIn … because you never know how your connections can connect to somebody else and bring job opportunities to you that you may not have had otherwise,” Bensley continued.
Though convenient, readily accessible and inexpensive, the misuse of social media can have major drawbacks when it comes to career prospects.
According to Anthony Marin, director of NMSU Career Services, Facebook pages are likely to be analyzed in interview processes in the determination of hiring decisions.
“I think the skill and understanding of Facebook and other social media is very critical and important, but there’s a responsibility that comes along with that,” Marin said. “It’s a matter of being careful of what you put out there.”
Social media is indeed social and one of cyberspace’s whimsical qualities is that once something is out there, you won’t get it back.
“I think what it boils down to is your work life and your private life becomes more unified and what you think you’re doing in your private time isn’t necessarily private anymore,” said Bensley.
Even if a picture is deleted from your Facebook page or your name is not listed with the picture, potential employers can use facial recognition software and other tools to connect the two together, Ruiz said.
For students, tweeting on Twitter or updating their status on Facebook may appear harmless, but publishing one’s thoughts and actions has to be done in a sensible manner to avoid future employer conflicts.
“I entered into it at a stage where I started the responsibility at day one,” Bensley said. “But there are kids who were into MySpace and Facebook in middle school, elementary school and high school, where they were more apt to be more vocal about some of their opinions. And those could come back.”
Despite the potential dangers of unrestricted social media, web-based networking has also brought transparency to businesses.
“Their mission is more public,” Bensley said. “In the past you only had what their website presented, but now through social media you’re able to discover their wrinkles, and their faults that may cause you to not want to be affiliated with that organization.”
When considering a company for employment, Bensley advises students “follow them” on Facebook and Twitter and conduct additional research. That way, they can discover if that employer matches their goals and what they want out of a career.
NMSU Career Services made the transition into the realm of social media a few years ago and now assists about a quarter of the student population per year. Their Facebook and Twitter pages are filled with valuable tips for interviewing, creating resumes, searching for jobs and much more.
“Every day we’re trying through the social media to bring more into the fold,” Bensley said. “Through every possible medium that we can get our hands on, we want to share with students that we’re here and that we’re free and that our service is long-standing. It’s something that will start as a student and continue as an alum.”
NMSU Career Services is located in Garcia Annex Room 224 and can be reached for career advising at 575-646-1631 or hireNMSU@nmsu.edu. They can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/NMSUCareerSrvcs or on Facebook at facebook.com/nmsucareerservices.