I supervise and network with many graduate students in higher education who leave campus in a few short weeks. The theme in most of our conversations is the competitive job market in student affairs. An admissions job in Chicago with 3,500 applicants? Residence hall director positions with more than 200 applications? And these are not random candidates, but cream of the crop, qualified folks all struggling to land a position in a compromised higher ed economy.
Gone are the days of the articulate cover letter and flashy resume. Many candidates are utilizing social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to establish new connections. But is it enough? Not by a long shot says Kerry Sandberg Scott.
Just being signed up, though, isn’t going to get you anywhere, because the point is that you have to connect with humans. The reason Twitter and other social networking tools are valuable is because they help you connect with humans. They have no inherent value; it’s all about giving you the means to connect with humans. No one is going randomly check out your weather-and-lunch tweets and say, “You! I want you! Take this job, please!” You need to build relationships with actual human beings.
Case in point, a colleague recently had a new hire that didn’t work out. I knew of a grad student applying for similar positions, so I encouraged her to send a note using me as a reference. A few days later, I had an opportunity to check-in with the colleague and he mentioned the grad student had contacted him. Although the position will be reopened with a position seach, he does plan to meet with the individual I recommended prior to the search. Connection made via the human network. Lessons that we need to share with our students.