Pursuing a Career in Communications? Evaluate Your Social Media Feeds

By: Blaire Knight-Graves, DePaul University web content producer

What used to be a wild and vast frontier of aliases, browser histories that could be scrubbed, and avatars as personal representations has shifted into a world where personal branding on social media and public identity are an essential part of the professional toolkit—even as early as your career begins in the entry-level space. If you want to pursue a job in one of the various fields held under the umbrella of communications, consider taking the opportunity to evaluate your social media feeds based on the following personal social media skills.

Clean up the feed.

It goes without saying, but our feeds are generally filled with memes, viral videos, long sentimental posts, pictures of food and entertainment, and articles dissecting pop culture, politics or local events. Personal feeds may also feature something deeper—pictures of raucous parties, angry rants, opinions from five or more years ago, and diverging opinions on even the blandest of topics. Both of these feeds are intrinsically tied to your name when someone decides to look you up on a search engine. Believe it or not, hiring managers pay attention to this stuff, and make informed decisions based on personal research during the candidate selection process. I can think of at least three separate instances where I didn’t take on an intern because I didn’t like what I found on his/her Twitter or YouTube accounts. Brand perception now runs deeper than the messaging and marketing itself—in the eyes of the public, employees can — and often do — represent the values of a business, and a business needs to have digitally exemplary employees. So, when you’re applying to jobs, ask yourself if your feed can be used against you, and clean up accordingly.

Learn to lurk and digest, then react.

The Internet is a hot bed of opinions. Discourse is encouraged on most platforms—Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and even the comment section of your local news source. But as discussed above, sometimes it’s best just to pay attention to the discourse and nod or shake your head as you scroll through your feed instead of reacting, no matter how tempting the topic may be. If you really want to join in on the conversation, force yourself to sit on your idea for 15 minutes or longer before typing a response to or “liking” someone else’s post.

It’s also worth mentioning here that the groups that you belong to on Facebook can sometimes be viewed publicly, or your comments in “private” groups can still be screen grabbed and posted for the world to see. Keep that in mind before taking part in difficult discourse.

If you’re going to post, pick your personal niche and stick with it like it’s a brand.

Finding a little niche on the Internet and sticking to it is my most recommended method of personally using social media. Whether you love food, television, film, travel, fashion, makeup or power tools—pick a hobby and have that dominate the posts you put in your feed. Now, of course your personal brand doesn’t have to exclusively feature stylized photos of pasta and smoothies, but once you’ve picked your niche try to keep your posts in that realm 75% of the time. My personal niche is my love of television and film, and all things geek culture, but yours might be fitness and nature. Whatever you pick, try to make an intentional effort to stick with it for at least six months. Not only will you be playing it safe, you’ll also start building a community with the same interests and learn some additional branding skills along the way.

Don’t “Vaguebook” or “Subtweet.”

This rule is short and simple. Don’t vaguely post your bad thoughts about other people while omitting their names, and consider not posting bad thoughts about anyone at all. You never know if you’re going to hurt someone’s feelings or if you might be eliminating an opportunity to network in the future. Professionals who pay attention to others in their field won’t want to take the risk of networking with you if they fear you’re a busy body on the web. I’ve said no to coffee with other professionals over subtweeting because I didn’t think it was worth the risk of ending up in their feed, and you don’t want that to happen to you.

A picture’s worth a thousand words, and so is your avatar.

There’s a balance between being professional and having a personal life. You shouldn’t feel like every profile photo has to be you’re LinkedIn headshot, but you also shouldn’t post a profile picture with anything that could be deemed controversial. Think about your profile picture or avatar within the context of your personal story, and what that tells the world. You could be in a blouse and slacks while at a cocktail bar, hiking with messy hair and an unwashed face, swimming in the lake, or maybe you’re kissing your significant other on the cheek. All of these tell the outside world something about how you live your life, and none of them are bad. In your profile picture you should look warm, welcoming and as though your interests matter to you. Having clean social media doesn’t mean that you can’t have or project a personal life with your own interests, and an avatar is a perfect place to start.

Your Guide to Connecting with Alumni on Linkedin

By: Gracie Covarrubias, DePaul University organizational and multicultural communication major ’18 and Career Center communications assistant

Scoping out potential contacts on LinkedIn can feel like a never-ending quest—the options are literally endless. There is, however, an art to finding that perfect connection on LinkedIn and sparking a conversation. Check out our guide to connecting with alumni on LinkedIn.

The Search

Crafting a LinkedIn search requires a few critical filters. Start off by typing in ‘DePaul University’ in the search bar. Once you’ve clicked on DePaul’s official page, click on the ‘see alumni’ button and you will be presented with a detailed breakdown of alumni interests, places of employment and fields of study.

Now it’s time to narrow your search. DePaul University’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Associate Director Leslie Chamberlain has a few pointers for students:

“Decide why you’re looking to connect with alumni. If you’re looking to explore a specific field or if there’s a city you’d like to be in, this is going to influence the keywords in your search for connections.”

Once you’ve used a couple of keywords and identified a potential connection, it’s time to actually hit the ‘connect’ button and send a message.

The Ask

This initial message is key to ensuring you get a response. Leslie advises that your message follows this classic, business outline: Them. You. Time-Bound.

Let’s break that down.

Them: Your first line should be a sentence about them, recognizing a particular involvement or position that caught your interest. For example, you could say, “your work as a social media analyst with the American Red Cross looks exciting.”

You: Your next two sentences should introduce you and provide some background. Think of it as a shortened elevator pitch. For example, you might say, “as a current public relations student at DePaul, I’m interested in working in the nonprofit sector. I’ve had the opportunity to take courses where I’ve constructed social media campaigns for companies and I’m looking to expand my knowledge in this sphere.”

Time-Bound: Finally, your last sentence should be time-bound to solidify a time to talk. “Fifteen to twenty minutes is the perfect amount of time to ask for. It’s enough time to get a feel for the person. If you vibe with the connection really well you can always ask for a follow-up meeting and if you don’t then you’re not trapped in a long conversation,” Leslie explained.  For example, you could say, “I would love to chat with you about your experiences as an analyst. Would you be available to talk over the phone for 15-20 minutes sometime in the next two weeks?”

The Follow-Up

Once you’ve sent the message and had the opportunity to talk over the phone, follow up with a simple thank you message.

This thank you should follow the Past. Present. Future. outline. First, acknowledge your previous interaction with a simple line, such as, “thank you for taking time out of your day to discuss your career.”

Next, bring up an insight they mentioned that you’re going to take action on. For example, “I picked up a copy of the branding book you mentioned and I’m looking forward to reading it.”

Finally, if you’ve really hit it off, the future portion of this thank you should be focused on a second meeting. For example, you might ask, “could I reach out to you next month? I’d like to talk to you about this book once I’ve finished it.” If you didn’t quite hit it off, a simple, “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors,” will work.

Easy as that! Connecting with alumni is a great way to learn more about your industry and develop a mentorship with someone who shares common interests. Curious about other ways that alumni can help you? Check out the Alumni Sharing Knowledge network for more information on connecting with alumni.

Career Fairs are Going Virtual. Are You Ready?

As technology continues to advance, more employers use virtual career fairs as a way to connect with a wider pool of candidates. They aren’t bound by geography; they are able to instantly meet with prospective candidates from all over the globe. So, what does that mean for virtual job fair attendees?

Virtual job fairs can take on several different formats. You may be navigating an elaborate virtual environment made up to look like a real-world job fair or you may simply have a list of employers with links to their job postings. Some will have virtual chat rooms that allow you to interact with recruiters while others may offer live video chat. It’s important to research the format in advance so you know how you will be interacting with employers.

It’s important to research the format in advance so you know how you will be interacting with employers.

If video chat is being used to interact with employers, ensure that your webcam is set up properly. Dress like you would when interacting with employers face-to-face and be cognizant of what the webcam can see behind and around you. Yes, this might mean that you’ll have to clean your room. Throw away those empty pizza boxes!

If employer interaction takes place in a chat session, make sure that you’re using professional language at all times. Sometimes people can mistake a chat room for casual conversation, but always remember that you aren’t talking to your friends. Avoid using slang and emoticons. Consider having prepared answers to stock questions (ex: “What is your greatest strength?”). That way, you can cut-and-paste to save some time on having to type out the same answer several times over.

A great advantage that you’ll have in a virtual job fair is that you can keep notes right in front of you. You can have talking points prepared as well as info on the company and the position. If you know the name of the person you’ll be speaking with beforehand, you can even have notes on his or her background. Along with your pre-prepared notes, be sure to take copious notes during your interactions with employers. Make sure that you know what steps you need to take next and jot down contact info of all company representatives you interact with.

If you still have questions, make sure you schedule an appointment with your career advisor! Your advisor can help you navigate a virtual or in-person career fair as well as assist you with fine-tuning your elevator pitch, resume and networking approach.

Handshake Hacks: Discovering Opportunities Just Got Easier

By: Gracie Covarrubias, DePaul University organizational and multicultural communication major ’18 and Career Center communications assistant

Sometimes it can take hours to sort through a never-ending list of job postings, titles and descriptions. Luckily, Handshake is stepping up their game by making job searching both easier and more convenient for students using their platform. Check out these two new updates that are changing up the job search game.

Student Dashboard

Handshake is providing users with a new student dashboard or homepage that curates lists of potential jobs and internships based on their interests. The type of lists that will appear include:

  • Jobs/internships near or on campus
  • Jobs/internships in locations you’re interested in
  • Jobs/internships popular among your major
  • Employers active on campus

These prebuilt searches and lists are designed to generate postings that are based on your profile, preferences and activity. We weren’t kidding when we said Handshake was getting smarter the more you used it. By narrowing down postings for you, Handshake is taking some of the stress off the job search and helping users realize all sorts of potential career paths. What are you waiting for? Did we also mention that you can now make your profile visible to other students, which would allow you to view their profiles as well? By opting in to this feature, you can learn from other students’ experiences, involvement and skills.

Handshake mobile

Wouldn’t it be nice to job search on the go? Handshake just made that possible with the launch of a mobile app. Gone are the days of fruitless commutes on the ‘L’—you can now search for jobs and internships, wherever and whenever you want.

Handshake’s mobile app is available in the Apple store for iPhone 4s, and beyond. Simply search ‘Handshake Jobs & Careers’ and download the app to your phone. Don’t worry Android users, Handshake plans to launch the app for Androids in 2018.

Similar to the dashboard update, the Handshake mobile app will be focused on the job discovery process, offering you lists of postings sorted into categories based on your profile information and preferences. The app also offers users the opportunity to search for jobs, favorite them and begin the application process, all from your smartphone.

Download the app today and see what Handshake has in store for you.

 


Having trouble logging in? A Handshake help team is available!

If you need to recover or reset your Campus Connect password, please contact TSC at 312-362-8765. If you graduated before the year 2000 and do not have a Campus Connect account, or if you are having other difficulties logging in to Handshake, please click here.

How to Successfully Network Online & Make Connections that Will Last

Professionals often talk about the importance of networking, but the act of networking itself can be daunting. Living in a now digital-reliant world, many feel more comfortable engaging with a potential networking contact electronically, whether through formal social channels like LinkedIn or by simply emailing a lead. Networking over the digital sphere, however, means your writing skills will be put to the test; it’s important that you bring intriguing, professional language to the table.

Below are a few different scenarios you may encounter when networking online with professionals in your field, and some best practices to ensure you are making the best impression when doing so.

DePaul’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network

Our Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) network is where over 1,000 DePaul alumni volunteer to be networking resources and assist DePaul students and fellow alumni in exploring college and professional transitions, interviewing best practices, life challenges and career options. Although these contacts have volunteered, you want to be respectful of their time by crafting a well-written introduction that includes the following:

  1. Who you are: Include your full name and major/career interests or passions
  2. Why you wish to connect: Do you want to learn more about his/her role, company, career path, etc.?
  3. What stood out from his/her profile: Personalize your request by noting one or two things that really piqued your interest in the volunteer’s profile

Your message doesn’t have to be lengthy, but it should include each of the above components. Afterwards, request 15-20 minutes of their time to either speak with them in person or over the phone; this way, you have set the expectation that you don’t intend to take too much of their time, which may encourage a quicker response. It can be much harder for a contact to set aside 30-60 minutes without advance notice.

The thing to remember about the ASK network is that these alumni have all volunteered, so you never have to feel intimidated or uncomfortable reaching out to them.

LinkedIn

The most popular channel that students lean on to seek potential networking contacts is LinkedIn. The good news is that it’s very easy to make new connections on LinkedIn; simply click “Connect,” and a potential new contact awaits. However, if you don’t take the time to personalize your connection request, you’re less likely to be accepted into someone’s network.

The best thing to do is review a potential contact’s LinkedIn profile before you send him/her a request, and try to identify one or two things you have in common. Maybe you share the same major, or perhaps you were both involved in the same student organization; mention this in your invitation request. If you’re reaching out to someone you don’t know personally, he/she is much more likely to respond if you identify some kind of shared experience or, at the very least, a reason why you want to connect with that person. What not to do? Send a blank invitation. Anyone can do that, but most professionals don’t want to accept just anyone into their network.

Once you’ve established a connection with this person, consider sending a lengthier introduction inquiring about his/her professional background. From there, simply follow the steps outlined above—the same rules that apply to the ASK network also apply here.

Email Referrals

There may come a time when a friend, professor or advisor will refer you to a contact at a company you’re really passionate about. These interactions may feel a little more intimidating, but many of the same rules apply:

  • When reaching out via email, be sure to introduce yourself and clarify your reason for writing.
  • You may want to look them up on LinkedIn to see if there are any commonalities you can refer to, or research the company website in case they’ve included a bio.
  • Most importantly, you want to be extra careful that you communicate with referrals professionally, and that you take the time to follow-up with them if they agree to do so.

In these instances, it’s not just your reputation on the line but that of the friend, professor or advisor referring you, so it’s especially important that you be mindful of any and all communication you have with these contacts.

Steps to Take Right Now

It’s always beneficial to begin seeking networking contacts through ASK, since these are people you have something in common with already (specifically your DePaul experience), and they have already volunteered to assist you! You can also meet with your designated career advisor to identify potential leads through ASK, LinkedIn and other industry-specific channels. Finally, we’re always happy to review any email communication in advance; simply email your advisor with the text you want to send to a potential contact, and we’ll help you to put your best (e)foot forward.

Handshake Hacks: Scheduling Appointments with Career Advisors

Whether you’re interested in learning about job opportunities or seeking career guidance around a specific topic, you have access to resources on Handshake and the Career Center’s website, 24/7. Now, let’s say it hits you at 2 a.m. that you still need to schedule a mock interview with a career advisor to prep for an employer meeting later that week—What do you do then?

You now don’t have to wait to schedule an appointment during normal business hours; you can request an appointment through Handshake at any time, day or night. This means you can log onto Handshake at the crack of dawn—if you so choose—to check your advisor’s earliest availability, and request a meeting. As soon as the Career Center office opens, our terrific front desk staff will do their best to ensure you get in at the earliest availability.

Requesting an Appointment How-to

Assuming you don’t always have a laptop on hand, you can always use a smart phone to log onto Handshake to request an appointment, as it is mobile friendly. Once you are logged in, look at the navigation column on the left-hand side of the page and select “Appointments,” which is located under the My University column. Click “Schedule a New Appointment” and then follow the prompts to choose a Category and an Appointment Type:

From there, you will see a list of your designated career advisor’s upcoming availability. Pick an available slot, briefly share what you hope to learn in the meeting (e.g. “discuss career options based on my major” or “prepare for an upcoming interview”), and submit your request. Our front desk staff will then review all requests, and confirm your appointment or reach out with alternative availability.

Aside from Handshake, you can still schedule an appointment with your career advisor during normal business hours by calling us directly—or, you can drop in between classes:

Loop office: DePaul Center, 1 E. Jackson, Suite 9500 | (312) 362-8437

Lincoln Park office: Schmitt Academic Center, 2320 N. Kenmore, Room 192 | (773) 325-7431

Now, for those moments when you wake up in the middle of the night and remember that you’ve been meaning to research internship opportunities, you can jump on Handshake and rest assured knowing you are in good hands.