Written by Anika Lerch


 Covering the most important networks, it is fundamental to know how to manage them. A simplified model of the social media metrics below illustrates the four major elements of the S-O-R framework for social media mentioned earlier (Peters et al., 2013). 


Figure 2: Simplified model of S-O-R framework for social media (Peters et al., 2013, p. 282)


In this instance, motives of the student have to be “goal-directed” (Peters, et al., 2013, p. 286) in terms of what the student tries to convey with the online communication. The three motivational reasons by Peters et al. (2013) are“(1) intellectual value, (2) social value and (3) cultural value” (p.286). Conclusively, the applicant needs to consider the nature of motives. At this stage, the student can already lead his motives into the direction of personal branding with setting objectives or a “statement of purpose” (Gander, 2014, p. 101)Thus, motives can differ from personal to professional. Some career starters try to simply create a positive impression, whereas others directly try to connect and acquire a job via social media. The latter distinctively requires stronger input. 


The essential component for the optimized way to use social media for a career start is to create a personal brand by producing “user generated content” (Peters et al., 2013, p. 282). The personal branding process encompasses three different steps of (1) creating a brand identity, (2) position and (3) assess the brand (image below) (Khedher, 2014).


Figure 3: Illustration of steps on “How to Develop a Personal Brand” by Kheder (2014)

(1) Create a brand identity

Preliminary, “attributes, beliefs, values, motives, and experiences” are essential to be communicated to create a brand identity and distinguish from others (Khedher, 2014, p. 33). These characteristics, or identity, influence the“perceptions of competence and character” (Roberts, 2005, p. 687)Hence, the student needs to consider adapting content to the industry in which he wishes to apply. However, when enriching the content for the personal brand identity with these implications, it should not lack authenticity (Gander, 2014). This additionally involves consistency within the different networks creating credibility, also relevant for the Network Structure (Peters et al., 2013). 

(2) Position the personal brand

Subsequently, the positioning according to Kheder (2014) functions to satisfy specific needs and expectations of the defined target. Therefore, the enormous interpretable content of non-verbal and verbal communication has to be adjusted (Khedher, 2014). Peters et al. (2013) refers to the content characteristics as “content quality, content valence and content volume” (p.287). For an applicant it means to tailor content according to certain expectations of a specific target with a clear direction covered in all social media networks. Additional content creation such as in blog writing (Gander, 2014) can be extra advantageous to exceed employers’ expectations, thus, meet the target group. 

(3) Assess the personal brand

Thirdly, the outcomes of the personal branding efforts have to be evaluated (Khedher, 2014) which could imply the assessment of the response on the content by personal contacts, as well as by potential employers. The feedback interactively provided in social media will leave room for continuous improvement. Moreover, content can be enhanced by self-reflection “on strengths and weaknesses” with which the personal branding strategy can be enhanced (Gander, 2014, p. 102). Generally, it is recommendable to update the social media profiles (Gander, 2014) and to be active frequently. Another overall feedback loop is executed when evaluating the complete social media metrics.

What kind of content should be avoided

Especially during a student’s academic path, one or the other inappropriate picture is taken or comment is posted. Consequently, being cautious with verbal and non-verbal content is inevitable. 

An example for reasons on inappropriate content causing reconsideration of hiring a potential candidate is demonstrated below (, 2014). Apart from that, the importance of “grammar, spelling and in general good communication skills”, as well as commenting and posting by colleagues and friends is clearly underestimated by students (Root & McKay, 2014, p. 205). Accordingly, the mentioned aspects should be removed when screening the own profile.


Figure 4: Reasons for reconsidering a candidate retrieved from a study by Jobvite (2014, p.11) 


To simplify the network structure by Peters et al. (2013), it fundamentally deals with the nature of networks and “ties of the actors” (Peters et al., 2013, p.287). This element of the model is not as applicable as the others, due to recruiters being less concerned with other actors on a student’s social network (Root & McKay, 2014). Nevertheless, the advantage of the networks sizes (Peter et al., 2013), is to leverage “peripheral connections” and a“wide audience” (Gander, 2014, p. 102), as well as to communicate the personal brands to a large number of potential employers. It has never been as easy as today to get in contact with key figures of an organization. Specifically the actors within the social network LinkedIn can function as links to new connections, since the members’ second or third degree connections are displayed (LinkedIn Corporation, 2015). It enables the student to acquire connections to certain key figures through other connections within the industry or company. Besides, a well-developed network can leave a positive impression by recruiters. This again reflects on the strong “egalitarian” structure of social media (Peters et al., 2013, p. 282).


The social interaction “lead[s] to the assumption of social roles” according to Peters et al. (2013, p.288), hence, replicates a student’s interpersonal skills, image and competencies (Roberts, 2005). It can be greatly utilized on Facebook when communicating and posting ideally in an authentic and proper manner (Gander, 2014). Furthermore, ‘Likes’,  ‘Comments’, ‘Shares’, ‘Endorsements’ etcetera are a great way to enhance a personal brand and its reputation. As social networks are of interactive nature (Peters, et al., 2013), students should be active online, as interaction can only happen if two actors create user generated content and exchange information. Here, the mentioned awareness of inappropriate posts or tags by network connections (see above) has to be considered. 

Additionally, co-creation can be an aspect students can utilize to get a foothold in a distinct industry, as actors in social media are more and more involved in co-creation (Peter et al., 2013). One suitable example is the L’Oréal Brand Storm competition communicated via social media (Facebook, 2015). 


After all the effort of managing the four aspects of the framework, the newly born personal brand can be assessed. Different from Peter et al. (2013), for the personal brand the feedback loop could implicate the responses by network actors, even including recruiters. What is the reaction by colleagues (Gander, 2014) and does it support the career start. One test to reflect on the personal brand is to google oneself (Gander, 2014), it displays what the potential employer will see. Roberts (2005) refers to it as “impression management” (p. 699) to test the reaction by external actors on the professional image. 

Additionally, a view on the profiles from the different perspectives (e.g. Fecebook: ‘view as’) can clarify what is visible and if it is appropriate (Root & McKay, 2014). Accordingly, content and networks again need to be adjusted. 


  • Know your motives, create content, exploit networks, interact, reflect 

A structure facilitates the management of social media and of a personal brand. When motives are known, content can be created among the different social media platforms. With interaction and social connections an even stronger personal brand can be established. It is simply crucial to follow the rules of authenticity, credibility, consistency and engagement, as well as cautiousness with inappropriate content. One major mistake students do is to restrict their profile visibility as much as possible which needs to be reconsidered. Here, social media should not be seen as a threat but as an opportunity to convey soft skills that can hardly be communicated with a written application. Hence, when all rules are followed there is no need to restrict information about oneself. 

  • Brand yourself

Particularly the personal branding aspect can provide an overall image of the student. Differentiation among the large pool of skilled academics requires distinct differentiation that can be achieved with innovative and creative ideas on social media, or extra activities online such as blog writing or co-creation. The personal brand, however, needs to have a consistent image. As an additional recommendation, it can be helpful to build up on an individual’s SWOT Analysis (Kotler & Keller, 2012), since it does only bring out the best in the student but considers the opportunities and threats in the labor market. 

Certainly, it has not been examined in detail how recruiters need to analyze which content, and ironically, “[o]nly 18% of recruiters consider themselves to be experts at social recruiting” (, 2014, p. 14) Thus, students can never be certain about the content, when even the recruiters are uncertain. Taking into account, the fact of recruiters being persons and therefore, requirements vary greatly. For the future, one major upcoming trend connected to social media, is mobile recruiting 

( , 2012). It is scarcely examined, even though it presents great opportunities for students. Hence, how can student convince recruiters in mobile recruiting networks?


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