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Preparing your students for the digital job search

If career services professionals and career advisors want students to have a competitive edge, they’ve got to train them in the digital job search.
University Business, October 2013

When your students graduate, they're entering a whole new world of job descriptions, resumes, cover letters, networking contacts, interviews, industry jargon, and career fairs. The whole process can be overwhelming.

What's more: Few university career service centers prep their students for the most important aspect of today's job search—all things digital.

Modern job hunting technologies like recruiting software and mobile apps mean students are entering a new type of job search, and it's often one they're ill-prepared for. If career services professionals and career advisors want their students to have a competitive edge, they've got to let go of tradition and train them in the digital job search.

Here are a few concrete strategies for ensuring your students succeed when job hunting in today's digital landscape:

  • Teach personal branding. Many students graduate from college thinking their degree will be enough when job hunting. But employers want to hire somebody, not just another name on a resume. Teach your students about the importance of crafting a personal brand for their job search efforts. Emphasize the importance of assessing your own values and goals to drive your personal branding efforts home.
  • Encourage proper social media use. Social media is a great way for students to bring their personal brand into the online job hunt. But there is a risk when putting information out in the public eye. Teach students the importance of controlling their online image when job hunting by eliminating any negative photos or language. Conversely, sharing content related to their industry or area of expertise can provide value. 
  • Take advantage of online video. Students and alumni can use popular online video platforms like YouTube to record virtual resumes or cover letters. This is a great way to stand out to employers. You can view an example of a professionally-made video resume here , but all students need are a webcam, proper preparation, and a clean, quiet space to record one themselves.
  • Purchase job search and career management software. Job search and career management software can be a great way to mitigate the heavy flow of job postings online. Many software programs are available for a small monthly fee. Provide this to your students as an easy way to keep track of job search documents and communications, access networking contacts, and browse job openings.
  • Provide information on best blogging practices. Establishing a professional blog is a great way for students to show they're committed to their industry and work. Students can showcase their work, write about industry topics, or share other relevant content. Introduce students to sites like Blogger and WordPress to get them started.
  • Test out mobile apps. There are tons of job hunting apps available for mobile phones these days. Many apps are free, and range in specialty from resume writing and interview help, job opening alerts, and networking. Test out a few yourself and encourage your students to download the best ones for their job search efforts.

Prepping students for today's digital job search doesn't have to be difficult. It simply requires taking a critical eye to the changing landscape of human resources and hiring practices. Use these strategies to prep your students, and they'll be well on their way to digital job search success.

—Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift.


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