Social Media: The Revolution in Career Development

By Jane Finkle

Many of my clients who take advantage of social media have discovered a fast and relatively easy method for conducting career research, expanding their professional network and developing a more comprehensive strategy to support their job search. There is a well established philosophy behind the art of connecting with people as the optimal way to explore careers and find opportunities. Social Media embraces this philosophy but uses the powerful engine of the computer to further drive and support the career development process. As career professionals, we can no longer deny that social media has become a major force in our work with clients and students at all ages and stages in their career development. Whether they are at the exploration stage or focused on job search strategy, our clients will miss out on opportunities if they don't understand or use social media as an essential tool in achieving their career goals.

Below are examples that demonstrate how dynamic social media, particularly Linkedin, can be at various stages of career development.

Case 1-DAN

Dan, a former university colleague, was linked to me via Linkedin. He applied for a tech position at a publishing firm in Philadelphia. As he looked through my list of contacts, he noticed that I knew someone who worked at the same publishing house. He emailed me to ask if I would introduce him to my contact. I agreed, emailed my contact and she agreed to talk to my former colleague, Dan. They connected via email and phone and she offered to forward his resume to the hiring manager. Subsequently he was interviewed for the position.

Case 2- JAMES

James, a young professional whom I was guiding on job search applied for a position at SAP, a multinational computer software company, and complained that there was no way to get through to an HR person to follow up on his application. James is a recent MBA graduate from Penn state so I suggested he check to see if there were any SAP alumni from his alma mater as well as checking his Linkedin contact list to see if any of his contacts knew someone at SAP. It turned out that that James was linked to a former Penn State Professor who was linked to the Director of Global Development at SAP. Through the normal route of Linkedin introductions, the SAP global director circulated James' resume to appropriate divisions and agreed to stay in contact with James regarding future positions. James eventually interviewed for a position at SAP and was offered a job.

Case 3- LINDA

Linda is currently a nurse who has advanced to an administrative position. Though successful, she has become disillusioned with her field and questioned whether nursing was the best career match. As an undergrad she had majored in Fine Arts but was pushed by her family to pursue nursing as a more practical field. Through a careful assessment process and discussions, Linda became attracted to the field of Landscape Architecture. To ensure this was the right direction for her, I encouraged her to research and talk to professionals in field. I spent some time highlighting the traditional tried and true methods of gathering career information from alumni networks to professional associations. However, I conducted the majority of the session with my laptop showing Linda how to set up a profile and how to find people and groups using Linkedin as well as employer information and job postings. During that process we discovered several Linkedin Landscape Architecture groups. She contacted one of these groups and was able to ask general questions. Several members of the group offered to give her an informational interview. When I next met with Linda, she was excited about the treasure trove of information and expertise she found through Linkedin.  Pursuing a career in landscape architecture is now a more informed and realistic possibility.

These brief examples illustrate the energy and resources that one form of Social Media, Linkedin, provides to our clients and how this resource nurtures our ability to support and empower them. Whether it's Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter, social media is revolutionizing career development in many exciting and positive ways. Keeping pace with this technology is crucial because many clients now expect Career Counselors to be experts in the navigation and use of social media, and employ it to their advantage. More importantly, we need to recognize that social media is changing the way we are viewed and evaluated as a resource to our clients.

Helping Clients Take Advantage of Social Media:

  • Write and develop your own professional profile on Linkedin. This will enable you to demonstrate to your clients that you have the knowledge and skills to support them in using this resource.

  • Help clients draft sections of their Linkedin profile. In many ways this process is similar to how we work with clients on their resume writing skills.

  • Show clients how to use the Linkedin search tabs to find people, companies /organizations and groups and educate them on the etiquette of contacting professionals online.

  • Give clients assignments that require using Social Media to support their career goals.


Additional Resources:

http://learn.linkedin.com/ Features basic information about using Linkedin

http://www.employmentdigest.net/2008/09/is-your-career-linkedin/ Is your Career Linkedin?

http://online.wsj.com/video/the-art-of-online-networking/E193E44C-E067-4ECF-846B-AA34BFFBC320.html?mod=WSJ_WSJ_Careers_VideoModule_6 The Art of Online Networking, Wall Street Journal, Jeremy Greenfield

Social Networking throughout Your Career: What's All the Buzz About?, April M. Williams, CyberLife, 2010.

Jane Finkle

Jane Finkle is a Career Consultant at Career Visions and Career Counselor at Bryn Mawr College. She helps clients with career assessment, transition planning and workplace adjustment and provides training and coaching to emerging women leaders in non profits through the Valentine Foundation. Jane has an MS in Counseling and is a National Certified Counselor (NCC). She can be reached at: www.careervisions.cc or info@careervisions.cc

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Latoya J. Williams   on Friday 05/07/2010 at 11:47 AM


I was really glad to see this article in the Career Convergence e-newsletter. I've noticed that many career and workforce development professionals have not yet fully embraced the great potential and opportunities inherent in the use of social media sites like LinkedIn, for their clients and especially for themselves too!

I've made some great connections with other professionals through the "Groups" on LinkedIn and have been able to share and grow professionally in the process.

April M. Williams   on Wednesday 09/22/2010 at 07:48 PM


Excellent suggestions on using social networking to enhance careers. Clients I work with have met new contacts that opened up doors for them, connected with hiring managers and rebranded themselves with these tools.

My phone rings with new clients who find me on social networking sites. These free tools are working for me 24x7.

Thank you for recommending my new book "Social Networking Throughout Your Career". Ebook and paperback copies are available on Amazon.com http://bit.ly/sntyca . Feel free to add a link Amazon or my site http;//www.cyberlifetutors.com in your referral above.

- April M. Williams

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.