How Can Students Convince Recruiters in Social Media Networks – (part 1) Social Media Network Structure and Categories

Written by Anika Lerch

Why you should use social media for your career start

Did you know that 91% of recruiters use social networks to screen a profile, of which 47% do it directly after they have received your application (CIPHR, 2011)? Therefore, they use with a 76% chance the social network Facebook (CIPHR, 2011). 

These figures represent the significant growth of social media in recruitment and thus the chances and challenges for students to apply it for their career start. Nowadays the possibilities to utilize career pages, professional social networks, the companies’ websites or simply search engines to look for vacancies are valuable. Before and during the application for a position, the online presence is particularly important, as it is clearly underestimated by students what influences social media has on the employee selection (Root & McKay, 2014). 

The blog is divided into two parts, providing advice for students on how to use and manage social media networks to successfully convince recruiters. Therefore, the role of personal branding to establish an online identity for a successful career start is a relevant tool.


The post is particularly addressed to academics in the field of management and economics, due to different requirements by employers setting a higher focus on social media presence in those academic areas than in others (, 2014). Furthermore, country related differences regarding legal restrictions and preferences of social media networks have not been considered. Only few major statistical reports on recruitment have been extracted from a large statistical data availability (Root & McKay, 2014).

Structure the jungle of social media

“Social recruiting is now a norm” (, 2014), this is not only an extract of a statistical report but it can be certainly identified in statistics worldwide, since social recruiting is tremendously increasing, creating the chance for students to join the game.

According to Peters et al. (2013) different from other media, social media is “egalitarian in nature” (p. 282). It entails that hierarchies do not exist, as it is communicated in a bilateral way. This creates great advantages for career starters with the opportunity to communicate on a different level than the one of an applicant. Unlike the traditional application procedure, the requirements for personal competencies and soft skills by recruiters can already be addressed through social networks before an official application (Diversified Business Communications, 2015). Conversely, one major challenge is the exposure of negative accessible information (Root & McKay, 2014). Hence, it requires thorough management of a person’s social media accounts and content, in order to convince recruiters online. 

To provide a clear structure to manage the ‘jungle of social media’, the social media metrics by Peters et al. (2013) guides through the blog posts. Accordingly, the three most important categories of social networks for recruiting, and thereby for the applicant, are explained in part 1. Subsequently, in the second part the four elements of the simplified social media metrics, implying the “motives, content, network structure and social roles and interaction” (p. 282), facilitate the management of social media. 

Although the framework is created to encounter organizational objectives (Peters et al., 2013), the suitability of a simplified framework version applied to an individual (personal brand) is presumed. 

What social media platforms should you use

Out of the social media categories, the three categories “blogs and microblogs, content communities and social networks” (Peters et al., 2013, p.283) were selected as the most appropriate for recruitment purposes.  Again, out of each of the three categories, the most significant social media websites were extracted based on the user rate by recruiter within the selected categories (, 2014).

  • Blogs and Microblogs: Twitter 

Twitter is the most popular microblog among them all with “288 million monthly active users” (Twitter, 2015). For recruiters, Twitter exceeded Facebook for the social recruitment in terms of their presence with an increasing tendency (Bullhorn, Inc., 2012), demonstrating that the student’s target, the employers are highly present on Twitter. Accordingly, chances to be screened, to connect or even to find a job on Twitter are underestimated. Hence, even if 140 signs to write a post seem very scarce, the effect on being active on Twitter to reach a future employer can be tremendous. However, Twitter requires fast responses and is a very vivid network that requires more frequent updates (Gander, 2014). Being on Twitter only sporadically without participating can therefore rather leave a negative impression.

  • Content communities: YouTube

Google’s subsidiary YouTube, the largest video-sharing website with over 1bilion users (YouTube, 2015) has been selected due to the strong increase in video content sharing ( , 2012), slowly reaching over to application purposes. Even though the YouTube network is not the major platform for recruiting, from an applicant’s perspective it may function as a video application tool, or a platform to communicate ones personality and personal brand (Chen, 2013). Accordingly, students can demonstrate creativity and engagement, as well as clearly differentiate from others with a video  application. Below an inspiring example of a video application is displayed.

Video: Example of a video application on YouTube (YouTube, LLC, 2010)

  • Social Media Networks: LinkedIn, Facebook

The third selected category includes two essential websites that require to be managed by students for their career start. 

Facebook is used by 66% of recruiters for screening profiles and to directly search for potential candidates (, 2014). Hence, career starters need to be prepared and updated. A private profile on Facebook is for recruiters the ideal way to check on characteristics such as language, creativity, interpersonal behavior etcetera (Root & McKay, 2014).  Hence, the student needs an overview on what is exposed to external visitors and what should be displayed which is clearly underestimated by students (Root & McKay, 2014). Below a great example of a creative profile is demonstrated leaving a positive impression for any future employer.

Anika_Lerch_Figure1_Facebook Example.JPG

 Figure 1: Creative Facebook profile example (, 2014)

LinkedIn on the other hand is a purely professional network highly used by recruiters, applicants and businesses in general to build a professional network. Statistics have shown that 94% of organizations use LinkedIn for recruiting (, 2014). Hence, students’ presence on LinkedIn is vital for the career start with over 200million members (Root & McKay, 2014). The websites drives the most job views and applications (Bullhorn, Inc., 2012, p. 4) and is consequently a must-have tool for job searching, connecting and applying.

After knowing why to make use of social media and which networks are most suitable for the career start, the second part provides implications on how to manage the networks and what role personal branding plays.