College Job Placement Offices Don't Have a Handle on Social Media

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — You'd think colleges and universities would have jumped all over the social media revolution and figured out how to leverage sites such as Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn to help graduates network with potential employers.

They haven't.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, two key items are holding schools back in merging social media with job opportunities for graduates: privacy issues and weak training practices.

That "achievement gap" couldn't come at a worse time for grads looking to crack the U.S. job market.

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According to the Washington, D.C.-base Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. unemployment rate for young college graduates is 8.8%, compared with 5.7% in 2007. Perhaps worse, the underemployment rate for young college graduates is 18.3%, compared with 9.9% in 2007.

"Through no fault of their own, these young graduates are likely to fare poorly for at least the next decade through reduced earnings, greater earnings instability and more spells of unemployment," said Heidi Shierholz, an analyst at the EPI and co-author of The Class of 2013, a report subtitled "Young graduates still face dim job prospects."

Having college career placement offices master the fine art of social media would help.

The Downers Grove Il.-based NACE says colleges are using social media — 90% of U.S. schools say so. But only 28% of colleges use it to counsel and teach graduates about good job search strategies.

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"It's clear that college career services centers have made the shift to the online environment, yet there are a number of areas where they can be more effective and efficient in the use of social technologies," says Alexandra Levit, business and workplace consultant and Career Advisory Board member. "Career services professionals who understand how to harness the power of social media will have a major advantage in matching job-seeking students with coveted career opportunities."