Career Development Influencers: Social Media as an Opportunity

By Autumn Cabell

The term social media refers to “forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content” (Merriam Webster, 2021). There are several types of social media including: social networking platforms, message boards, games, image sharing applications, blogs, and review sites (Van Looy, 2016). Career development professionals can maximize their social media usage to fit a variety of purposes including marketing their services, sharing mentorship opportunities, providing consultation, and more. In addition, Tillman et al. (2013) explained that counselor educators can use social media for admission and recruitment in counseling programs.

Although social media provides many opportunities for career development professionals, counselors, and counseling programs, many do not know where to begin and are uncertain of the ethical implications. Despite the reservations, career development professionals, including counselor educators, should find ways to meaningfully engage with social media and reframe their view of social media as an expansive opportunity. Rose et al. (2020) even suggested that counselor educators should be at the forefront of social media ethics due to their leadership in the counseling profession.

There are hundreds of major social media platforms and counting. The table below displays a few social media site and ideas for how theses platforms can be used:



Use in Career Development, Counseling, and Counselor Education


Join counseling or career development Facebook groups and “like” pages. Counseling programs can share program updates, alumni and faculty accomplishments, and admission/recruitment information.


Micro-blogging in 280 characters or less. Use counseling and career development hashtags and share professional interests or services.


Share pictures/videos of counseling and career development events (e.g., conference) or share flyers/videos of marketing materials. Utilize Reels to share professional development content.


Start a conversation about career development, counseling, and/or mental health.


Create short videos with career development or counseling content.


Make professional connections and create a virtual resume/CV.


Create longer videos/vlogs (20-30 min) on counseling or career development content.


Tips for Creatively Utilizing Social Media

When getting more involved with social media, consider the following tips to creatively increase your social media engagement:

  • Set an intention. Decide the type of content you want to share on social media and the social media platforms that you will consistently update.
  • Make visual animations. You can utilize web services like Powtoon, Animaker, and FlipaClip to create short animations that communicate career development services, recruitment information, research findings, etc.
  • Share your expertise. Consider developing a YouTube channel or a Podcast alone or with colleagues in the field to share your expertise with the broader public.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile. Update your LinkedIn profile with new research studies, job position announcements, and/or career-related articles and videos. Counselor educators can offer to connect with counseling graduate students on LinkedIn. Career development professionals and counselors can share conference presentations, completed continuing education or specialized training, and licenses as well as recent updates in professional organizations (e.g., American Counseling Associations [ACA] Anti-Racism Statement, conference themes, new National Career Development Association [NCDA] credentials), or professional accomplishments (e.g., grants, awards, promotions).
  • Utilize hashtags. Hashtags on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. can help improve algorithms that get content seen by interested audiences. You can utilize counseling or career development-related hashtags like #scchat, #careerdev, #careercounseling, #mentalhealthmatters, etc. to share your content with individuals in the counseling fields.

Ethical Considerations

Social media changes and updates rapidly. Career development professions have a long way to go in staying up-to-date with social media changes and considering ethical implications. However, the ACA (2014) Code of Ethics appropriately includes Section H: Distance Counseling, Technology, and Social Media. This section emphasizes that counselors should distinguish between their professional and personal social media pages and counselors must respect the privacy of clients on social media unless they are given permission to view their client’s social media content. Similarly, the NCDA (2015) Code of Ethics includes a section related to social media, Section F: Providing Career Services Online, Technology, and Social Media. The NCDA Code of Ethics mentions a) the importance of including the use of social media in informed consents, b) that career professionals should carefully consider the laws and regulations in their state relating to social media, and c) that career professionals should maintain the confidentiality of clients when using social media.

In addition to adhering to ethical guidelines, when engaging with social media career development professionals, counselors, and counselor educators should ask themselves, what type of content do you want to endorse and who do you want to view it? Counselor educators working with master’s and/or doctoral level graduate students should consider their personal and professional policy for befriending or following students on social media. For example, counselor educators may only want to follow former students on social media platforms, they might consider connecting with current students only on LinkedIn, or decide to only add former students who send a request first. Counselor educators, counselors, or career development professionals with supervisees may want to evaluate the power differential when considering adding current supervisees to their social media accounts.

Counseling programs should also consider how they want to ethically engage with social media. Rose et al. (2020) recommends that counseling programs develop, implement, and disseminate their own social media policy due to the unique nature of the counseling profession.

Photo By Rahul Chakraborty On Unsplash

Overall, it is important for career development professionals, counselors, and counselor educators to 1) be aware of the permanence of the internet, 2) reflect on what they like and share on social media, 3) remember that following someone on social media is not a proxy for knowing someone personally, and 4) adhere to ethical guidelines as well as state and federal laws. Overall, social media is an ever-growing resource that career development professionals, counselors, and counselors can utilize, so take the next step to maximize your social media opportunity.




American Counseling Association. (2014). Code of ethics. https://www.counseling.org/resources/aca-code-of-ethics.pdf

Kaplan, A., & Haelein, M. (2010) Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59-68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2009.09.003

Rose, J. S., Dufresne, R., Arnekrans, A., & Neyland, L. (2020). Social media policy for counselor education programs. Journal of Counselor Preparation and Supervision, 13(2). https://doi.org/10.7729/42.1376

Merriam-Webster. (2021) Social media. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/social%20media

National Career Development Association. (2015). Code of ethics. https://www.ncda.org/aws/NCDA/asset_manager/get_file/3395?ver=738702

Tillman, D. R., Dinsmore, J. A., Chasek, C. L., & Hof, D. D. (2013). The use of social media in counselor education. VISTAS Online, 1-13. https://www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/vistas/the-use-of-social-media-in-counselor-education.pdf?sfvrsn=370433a5_10

Van Looy, A. (2016). Definitions, Social Media Types, and Tools. In A. Van Looy (Ed.), Social Media Management: Technologies and Strategies for Creating Business Value (pp. 21–47). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-21990-5_2



Autumn L., Cabell, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, CCC, CCTP, is an Assistant Professor in Counseling at DePaul University. In addition, Dr. Cabell also provides career coaching services to federal employees and their dependents. For questions, contact Dr. Cabell at acabell@depaul.edu, www.thecareerandwellnessdoctor.com

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