(BPT) - College students need little encouragement to use social media to interact with their classmates, family and friends, but many are still leery of using the platforms when it comes to seeking employment.
Only 20 percent of college career center professionals felt students were enthusiastic about using social media as part of their job search process, according to the Career Services Use of Social Media Technologies survey, conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) on behalf of the Career Advisory Board, established by DeVry University.
'Ninety percent of all career services departments now use social media platforms to target their students and provide them with career information,' says Ed Koc, director of strategic and foundation research, NACE. 'But we aren't seeing students use these readily available tools for professional networking.'
This finding underscores the fact that students aren't accessing important resources of college career services that might really help them move their job searches forward.
The new research also indicates that while college career services are increasingly turning to social media to communicate with students, they haven't yet found the right mix of information and dialogue to truly engage them.
'While college career services have come a long way in embracing social media over the past five years as a tool to communicate with students, there is still room for improvement,' says J.T. O'Donnell, career strategist, workplace consultant and Career Advisory Board member.
For instance, 38.9 percent of career centers participating in the survey expressed disappointment with the fact that the level of student engagement didn't increase after instituting a social media presence.
'Career centers that implement a strategic approach to their social media efforts - those that create and distribute meaningful, timely content across channels are going to see an uptick in student engagement,' says O'Donnell.
Additionally, the Career Advisory Board offers the following advice for college career services departments to better connect with students via social media:
1. Invest in becoming social savvy - In order to engage effectively with college job-seekers, career services professionals need to understand social media as well the students they serve.
The NACE/Career Advisory Board survey showed that only 25 percent of career services professionals receive university-sponsored social media training despite the fact that they provide social media advice to students. Colleges should invest in social media training for career services professionals to make sure they can stay ahead of the curve.
2. Understand the purpose of each platform - Career centers must build online communities that appeal to different audiences and should select their channels appropriately. Perhaps, Facebook is reserved for current students only, whereas LinkedIn is used to create a bridge between students and alumni. Students will tune out if what you're saying isn't relevant to them and won't hear you if you're not where they are. Make sure you customize your approach for social media. All platforms are not alike.
3. Provide timely news - Career services professionals are focused on tracking the economic climate and current job market. This information is incredibly useful to students and can help them focus their efforts as they seek employment. Providing students with 'news they can use' via social media will make career services a valued employment resource.
4. Solicit student feedback - Career centers need to know if students like what they are hearing. While social media metrics can offer important data on traffic, sentiment and engagement, students should be encouraged to provide direct feedback on career services social media channels to indicate what they like and dislike.
For additional advice and to read the full survey, visit: careeradvisoryboard.org.