Social Media 101: Grad Student Edition

The job search today is more competitive than ever, even for graduate students. And as a grad student, learning how to stay competitive during your job search can be last on your list – especially with theses and dissertations on your minds. Fortunately this is where social media can come into play and help you leverage your brand, skills, and research expertise during a job search.

Recruiters and hiring managers are looking toward social media to source job candidates. In fact, 92% use or plan to use social recruiting this year, with this number consistently increasing. But this isn’t the only group infiltrating the social space – other job seekers are there too. If you’re not there, someone else may be there to replace you. 

Here are a few tips, tricks, and suggestions for optimizing your social media presence in your post-grad or post-doctorate job search:

1. Optimize your social profiles for your job search.

In the world of social media, your bio section is prime real estate for reaching interested audiences. By creating an intriguing, professional, and short bio on Twitter or LinkedIn, you’re letting people know your specialties and interests right off the bat. You don’t want to confuse employers though, so be consistent with your branding across social media platforms. Include keywords that an employer is likely to search for when looking for job candidates.

2. Use past classmates and colleagues as job connections.

While you’re in school, you’re constantly meeting new people in your courses, during assistantships, at conferences and presentations, and sometimes while you conduct your research. Consider connecting with this large group of students, professionals, and professors on spaces like LinkedIn and Twitter. 

You can even use free tools like Jackalope Jobs to magnify these connections into possible job connections. Simply log in with your Facebook or LinkedIn profile and begin searching for jobs. What’s great with this tool is that you can instantly see whom you’re connected to at each job posting and potentially reach out to connections if you’re interested in applying. 

3. Join the world of Twitter chats.

Twitter chats are interactive conversations on a specific topics hosted at a specific time on Twitter, typically surrounding a hashtag. You’d be surprised how many weekly or monthly Twitter chats exist, and some may be in your field. You can find full, but not always all-inclusive, lists of Twitter chats here and here. Never underestimate the power of networking on Twitter!

4. Make your resume pop on the web.

Figuring out how to translate research experience to your resume or cover letter can be frustrating. But have you ever considered visualizing this for employers? Consider using Vizify, Prezi, or Storify to showcase your accomplishments and resume visually, while linking this on your other social media platforms.  

If you’re more interested in visualizing your research data specifically, but don’t have the creative chops, there are some great free resources you can use to showcase your work. Websites like, or help you create infographics for free with the click of a button. These tools are also great for non-designers and include premade templates to help get you started.

These are only a few tips and resources to help you successfully stand out from the crowd during your post-grad job search. While social media can certainly expand your reach, don’t forgo your traditional efforts such as phone calls, handwritten thank you notes, and meetings over coffee.

What unique strategies have you used to optimize your social job search?

Kristen Wishon received her Master of Science in Journalism from West Virginia University, focusing her research on health communication. She is currently the Digital and Community Coordinator at Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. You can find Kristen on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.



  • On June 14, 2013