Sunday, February 22, 2009

Social Networks – How They Can Impact Your Scholarship, Internship, or Job Opportunities.

The Good News.

Technology has had a huge effect on recruitment - for candidates, recruitment professionals and employers alike. What this means for organizations is that sourcing talent through the internet is becoming progressively more important. Not only are employers and their agencies increasingly adopting online-only recruitment policies, but more and more are using social networking platforms such as Facebook and Linkedin to hunt for candidates. According to a study by, one of the largest online job sites in the US, one in every five employers uses social networks to research information about job candidates.

Social media has entered the mainstream as a recruitment strategy; and many highly-recognized firms are connecting with applicants through their own profiles or pages on these sites. As an example, one highly recognizable organization has a team dedicated to recruiting on Facebook, where applicants can ask questions, find information regarding contests, jobs, internships, links to related information, and discussion boards.

Online networks can become a lifeline for job or internship seekers.  An economic crisis hitting firms across the globe has created a spike in usage of professional networks such as LinkedIn, the top professional Web network. Professional networking should be a top priority during unstable economic times.

While making it well worth jobseekers’ time and effort to have a presence online, it’s really only effective for those that take the time to develop their profile. Virtually anything in a profile shows up on a search, so students and employees should list educational background, awards, current and previous employment, current responsibilities, user groups, professional associations they belong to, expertise, and other information companies might seek. Tap into social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to create or expand positive online content about you.

The Bad News.

What you put on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social networks (or what your friends put there) could have a negative impact on your scholarship. According to Social Media and College Admissions, many college admissions offices are searching social networking sites and using search engines (Google and Bing) to conduct background checks on potential students before awarding scholarships. Facebook and Instagram are the most commonly searched sites. The report, put out by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, expect presence of admissions offices on social networking sites to increase.

Recent surveys find that a growing number of job searches are being derailed by "digital dirt." The Internet is rife with inaccuracies, posturing, gossip and material presented out of context. All of which can wreak havoc on someone's digital footprint. Social networking Web sites can be mined with unintended or embarrassing anecdotes, and general Web searches sometimes reveal inconsistencies or resume inflation. This can, and has, eliminated candidates for internships and jobs.

There are a number of methods being used to collect information and create a virtual profile of you, such as searching and utilizing government records, free people searches, search engines, social network search engines, and paid searches. A number of companies (and college admissions offices) are also using facial recognition software. Think you’re safe by setting your profile to private? Or using an alias? Your personal information is still accessible to parents, professors, police, or employers. Even if your profile is private, there's little to stop your online contacts from copying and sharing your information or pictures with others, and tagging them. Removing possible incriminating pictures or information when it’s time to look for that scholarship or job may be more difficult than you think. So it's a good rule of thumb to avoid posting pictures or confessions that would humiliate you or a friend if they reached the wider world, because they very well could.

My suggestion – Google yourself; do an image search; log in to your social network and do a search. Do this regularly. (For more detailed information on searches, and tips for managing your digital footprint see What the Web knows about you.) Create a profile on a professional network, and link to professors, colleagues, and friends. Create or expand positive, professional online content on other social network sites. Search for companies with an online presence in Facebook or Instagram, and join. Make yourself highly visible, with a positive and professional image.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

International Student Connections

When the Facebook Group “Scholarships for International Students” was created, I didn’t know what to expect, or if there would be any interest. Surprisingly, the first member joined in less than one hour, in the middle of the night, before I could even post a welcoming message! In less than two weeks, we had over 100 members. The day after the SIS group was created, it became apparent there was also a need for a sister site, Internships for International Students, as internship opportunities are as limited as scholarships and financial aid for international students. In making connections with students, I realized the focus of this group had to be broadened to include the complete international student experience. We live in a highly interdependent and interconnected world; there is power in diversity, and benefit in working together. There are tremendous opportunities for enabling change, and recognizing possibilities and potential! I truly believe we need a better system for positive exchange between students, businesses, and educational organizations to foster a better understanding of globalization and its future impact on society. With that in mind, we have decided to make a change in our organization name, our mission, and our website. Our name: International Student Connections. Our Mission: International Student Connections focuses on enhancing the student experience. ISC creates a system for positive exchange between students, businesses, and educational organizations to foster a better understanding of globalization and its future impact on society. Our goals: Internship and Employment Opportunities; Scholarships; Travel Opportunities; Service and Beyond; Cultural Education and Exchange. Change takes time; and people to believe in it, with a dedicated commitment to making it happen.