Last Tuesday a community of 1,000 college career advisors converged in rainy Orlando to share ideas, experiences and best practices for helping students reach new career heights.

I was asked to present on social media, the talk was called “What You Think You Know About Social Media Maybe Hurting Your Students”. And as you can tell, the talk was pretty well attended.

NACE 2013

Here’s what we covered

I asked the audience, “Did you get into this job because you LOVE helping students discover their true career?”

Everyone raised their hands.

“Keep your hand raised if you LOVE teaching LinkedIn?”

Hands go down.

Yet imparting LinkedIn and other social networking skills are essential for helping students advance their careers. So we have a bit of a problem, as you can see.

How can career advisors get back to what they love to do, interacting with students about their values, skills and dreams, yet still give them the social media tools they need to succeed?

I only had 20 minutes to address this point. So I decided to do something called a sculpt. The idea, which I got from a fellow speaker Scott ‘Q’ Marcus, is to let the audience build a live and interactive model for the issue we’re discussing.

So I present the situation, the audience builds on it. And together we create something new, a work of art, a living sculpture.

This is what happened.

First, I volunteered to act the role of the student. Doning a UNC baseball hat, tilted sideways and sunglasses, I asked the audience, “As career advisors, what do you want for this student?”


Let’s get someone stand off over there in the distance to represent a job. And let’s get a career advisor to pull my arm towards that goal.

Next I asked, “What is keeping this student from following your advice and getting a job?”

Academic responsibilities; social obligations, fear, simple ignorance of the importance of starting to look now, and not a year after graduation…

So I had volunteers come on stage to pull me in the opposite direction.

When everyone pulled, the student didn’t move.

How to Get Students to Follow Your Advice?

What if this student had a clear understanding of who they were and what they want? And if the career advisor could nudge them into making  a decision about their future, wouldn’t that move them forward?

So one volunteer stood up to help the career advisor pull, clarity of purpose; a personal brand.

What if the student used their personal brand to build a compelling online reputation, including a nice looking LinkedIn profile, a history of Tweets and compelling posts on their Facebook Timeline?

So one volunteer stood up to represent a polished online presence to help the career advisor.

What if the student used their nice looking profiles to reach out to alumni, and other information interview sources to gather information and, more importantly, build alliances within their target organizations?

So one volunteer stood up to represent a good intentioned alumnus.

Pull now…and the student made it to their job!

But check it out. At no point did the career advisor burdon the student with a technology class. If they did so, it would have been another responsibility to drag the student backwards.

Instead, social media would have been used to help the student reach each of those three milestones: Brand, Polish and Engage.

Key point: social media is a tool to support an overall framework of job search. 

Career Advisors Don’t Need to Teach Technology, whew!

The audience admitted that their students could probably run circles around us when it comes to understanding social media. Trying to teach it sets us up for failure.

Rather, our jobs as career professionals is to teach the frameworks, and let the student figure out what the best tool is.

How to get students to use LinkedIn? Give them a task that requires them to use it, such as, research your target companies and find out what their issues are, or find five alumni working in your target industry.

Start with why, as Simon Sinek famously said.

When I said, “You don’t need to teach technology” one woman from Florida State University sighed audibly and smiling exclaimed, “What a relief!”

Oh, and This Curriculum Already Exists…(I wrote it!)

It was clear by the end that these career advisors didn’t want to be technology trainers. And they also don’t have time to assemble, research and test curriculum that goes beyond just a clicky-class for LinkedIn.

When I introduced my social media training curriculum, the audience got pretty excited. The two 2-hour workshops teach the frameworks I’ve developed from years of working with job seekers. It comes with:

  • Lecture notes
  • Syllabus
  • Slides
  • In-class activities
  • Online videos for technical training

This program easily bolts onto most career center’s current programming, and it costs much less than hiring me to come on campus to speak.

Getting it setup is simple. The school just needs to order 25+ books from me, and I send them the Instructors Manual. Simple.

For more information about the curriculum or to download a copy of the syllabus visit my Facilitators Portal.