Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

How Do Career Centers Use Social Networking Sites?

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

How Do Career Centers Use Social Networking Sites?

Article excerpt

The popularity and growth of social networking sites (SNSs), particularly among the college-aged demographic, makes them logical tools for university career centers to use to connect with students. The authors surveyed 78 university career centers to determine how they use SNSs, the benefits and drawbacks, and the advice they would give to a career center considering using SNSs. The most commonly used SNSs by this sample include Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, mainly to provide career information. Benefits included students' responsivity to the SNS posts and increased visibility and attendance at events; the main drawback was time required. The most common recommendation was to determine goals and plan implementation.

Keywords: social networking sites, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln, university career centers

Social networking ntes (SNSs) have been defined as "Web-based services that allow individuals to ( 1 ) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system" (Boyd & Ellison, 2007, p. 2 1 1 ). Jencius and Rainey (2009) identified Facebook, Linkedln, and Twitter as examples of SNSs that are becoming increasingly popular, each having millions of users, seen as "tremendous vehicles for connecting with others, be it socially or professionally" (p. 22).

Facebook is the most frequently used SNS, with over 901 million monthly users, 526 million daily active users, and more than 125 billion friend connections (Facebook Statistics, 2012). Facebook's purpose is to "give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected" (About Facebook, 2012). Individuals provide information on a profile page and can upload links, photos, videos, notes, or brief status updates and connect with others when invited to "friend" another Facebook user or by personally initiating the invitation. Facebook includes job search applications, or apps, including LinkUp (companies can post job openings on Fan Pages), virtual business cards, Inside Job, My linkedln Profile (connecting with a Linkedln account), and Work With Us (by Jobvite).

Twitter is a microbloggjng tool, through which a person may "tweet" about their lives in 140 characters or less. Twitter, unlike Facebook and linkedln, allows for asymmetric relations, that is, a person can follow another without that person having to follow in return. Twitter is "the fastest, simplest way to stay close to everything you care about" (About Twitter, 2012). Although Twitter does not provide statistics, according to a blog on msnbc, Twitter now has over 140 million active users who generate over 400 million tweets per day (@technolog, 2012).

According to Jencius and Rainey (2009), Linkedln differs from Facebook and Twitter because it is used for more professional purposes, similar to a business card exchange. Linkedln lists over 161 million members and more than 2 million companies, with all Fortune 500 companies represented (About Us, 2012). They provide a "gated access" to members, in which contacts must know each other or be introduced to each other from a common contact. Members can write endorsements of other contacts, which serve as brief letters of recommendation and can be seen by employers. According to their website, Linkedln will help members (a) reconnect: "find past and present colleagues and dassmates quickly," (b) power your career: "discover inside connections when you are looking for a job or new business opportunity," and (c) get answers: "your network is lull of industry experts willing to share advice" (Get The Most, 2012).

College students regularly use SNSs. In a study of 7,705 college students, Junco and Mastrodicasa (2007) reported the following characteristics of those students: 97% owned a computer, and 68% had a Facebook account and logged in at [cast twice per day. …

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