In the past, a cover letter, resume and references were all we needed to land an interview. Prospective employees today have a much larger canvas to paint their picture and tell their story.
As your college student heads toward securing a job or an internship, many factors will contribute to his success. Academic achievement, involvement in the field or industry, networking connections and passion are all components to proving that he is the right one for the job. But his resume is no longer the primary place to make his case.
In the past, a cover letter, resume and references were all we needed to land an interview. Prospective employees today have a much larger canvas to paint their picture and tell their story. Parents can help their college students position themselves competitively in the workforce by using the following methods:
Google your student's name online. Click on everything that comes up. Understand that most potential employers will do the same and see the same results.
Encourage your student to make his Facebook profile or pictures private if there is anything he wouldn't want a future boss to see. Or if someone has the same name and might be confused for your student (to his detriment), he might consider using his middle initial or tweaking his name to be more easily identified.
Once your student gets a glimpse of his online image, he'll know if he needs to censor himself more or delete some of his past online fingerprints, like blog comments or YouTube uploads.
If your student does decide to make some of his social networks private and for friends only, he can use sites like LinkedIn.com for professional purposes. Not only is LinkedIn like an online resume that includes education, past and current work experience and other interests/honors, your student can also connect and network with professionals and have bosses or colleagues write recommendations that others can see.
If your student is lucky enough to already be impassioned about the career path he is pursuing, starting a blog and making his passion known will benefit him. Whether he's interested in non-profit work, advertising tactics, global economics or eco-friendly business practices, he can rally others around the issue by consistently blogging about it.
And neither you nor your student need to be web whizzes - sites like blogger.com and wordpress.com help amateurs create professional-looking blogs and websites. While some occupations, like accounting, might not have an obvious blog-worthy outlet, even commenting on pertinent news articles will be beneficial, as they'll come up in your student's vanity search.
If your student is in the creative field - as a designer, writer, artist, musician, actor, etc. - his portfolio should be available online. Carrying a binder of article clippings or demo CDS might be helpful at an interview, but he won't get there without having his work just a few clicks away online first.
Whether he showcases his work on his own website or through other sites like Picasa.com for pictures or Vimeo.com for videos, these sites will come up higher during vanity searches if they are active, with lots of people linking to them and commenting on them. Encourage your student to promote his portfolio, even if he's not actively looking for a job or internship; you never know who might stumble upon his work and be interested.