Using Social Media to Enhance Employability

I’m really excited as tomorrow I’m going to be spending the morning with students at Exeter University, talking about Social Media and how it can help their job prospects. We all know its a tough world out there right now and getting a job is a lot harder than when I left the same University, 12 years ago.

I’m excited because when I was there, I didn’t have any of the tools available to these guys to help my search for work. Those who want to give themselves a head start in life really do have a fantastic opportunity to do so.

So here are my top tips to any student looking to use Social Media to enhance their employability potential.

1). Without wanting to start on a negative note, the first place to start is understanding privacy settings and what employers these days use the web for – Googling your name. Have you Googled your name (that’s mine by the way) to see what turns up? Have you checked to see what information people can turn up on you on Facebook without being logged in, or through a profile that is not friends with yours? If not, I suggest you do, because rightly or wrongly prospective employers will be doing so.

2). Right lets get positive now. If I could give one piece of advice to a prospective employee it would be to start blogging. How many CV’s do you think every job you go for is going to attract? How many of them link to a blog which shows off their knowledge, thoughts & personality? Not many I bet you. So here’s your number 1 chance to stand out. With tools like WordPress so easy to use (and free), you can start a blog today, while you’re at Uni and demonstrate to future employers 1000 times more about you, than you can on your CV.

3). Start listening & learning. Use tools like Twitter to start searches for people tweeting in the area you’re looking to get work. Build up a picture of who is about and begin to engage with them. Getting to know a prospective employer before you’ve even applied for a job could just give you the edge you need when it comes to interview time.

4). More Learning. Really?!? Yup ‘fraid so. The workplace is very different to Uni life. Find industry experts and influencers in your field of choice and follow them on sites like Twitter. Learn from them, create your own posts about the things they say on your newly formed blog. Find the thought leaders out there and start to build up real world knowledge of what business is really going to be like.

As an aside, if you’re into Business & Marketing here are a few great people/companies to start with:

Chris Brogan
, Seth Godin
, UnMarketing
Mashable & Econsultancy

5). Make LinkedIn your corporate network. In the business world many of us use LinkedIn as our corporate network. We keep personal stuff to Facebook so that’s not much use to connect with us on. Twitter is more difficult to build close connections on quickly, it takes time. Start to add people you meet at job fairs/events/shows/out networking and build your numbers. Know people in the local business community (family/friends etc)? Add them too. Numbers lead to leverage in LinkedIn and as you take your profile wherever you go in your working life, you should start to see this as one of your most valuable assets.

6). Be Proactive – When I’m looking to recruit, I want someone that stands out. I want someone that makes the effort to go the extra mile. I want someone that doesn’t just send me in a CV and hope for the best. Recruitment is expensive for us company owners. You can not only save us money but show you’re different by finding me on LinkedIn and sending me your details. Ensure to tell me not just about your skill set, but why you want to work for me, what you can bring to my company and why you’re different. You’ll be ahead of 95% of other candidates already and if you’ve done everything else I’ve said above I may not even bother seeing anyone else!

Guys, if I were looking for a job now I’d be really enthused by all the ways I can make myself stand out. The question is….are you?

Now Your Thoughts

  • Have you got any more tips for the stars of the future?

Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

A week or so ago Scott Stratten (unmarketing) posted the following on Twitter:

“If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business”

BAM – How to sum up everything I think about business in one 140 char sentence – Thanks Scott :)

This was also timely as I’ve recently been reading Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (aff link) and one of the habits has really struck a cord with me – Habit 5. ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’. I want to break down Stephen’s points and tell you why this is so important in business. In fact, it’s not important, it’s essential and when you understand this concept you’ll notice this trait in all the most successful people, even the hardest nosed business women and men.

Why should this be so important to you? Because most people do completely the opposite. Ask yourself now, honestly, what you do when talking to a colleague, or client, or someone at a networking event? Do you listen with the intent to reply or the intent to understand? Do you wait for others to finish speaking, just so you can get your point in, or do you listen to and try to understand the other person, from their point of view?

Most people live in their own world, they don’t want to understand other people’s world.

How does this relate back to Scott’s point at the beginning of this article? Well if relationships are the key then this skill is key to building them. If you barge in thinking you know best, without giving thought to the other person, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll need to brush up on your relationship building skills. Perhaps you should question this now?

Just remember as Covey says, that when you seek to understand other people first, you show them that you care. Everyone wants to be loved right? Everyone wants to be understood. If you don’t develop this skill guess what happens – the person you’re conversing with will always be thinking, ‘nothing else matters as this person talking to me doesn’t understand me’ – they will never take your point on board.

I’ll leave you with one more thought from the same chapter in Covey’s book. The key to influence is to be influenced by others (i.e. being open to others influencing you) – for some people I’d expect this to be difficult concept to deal with. The truth is that you need to be totally comfortable with yourself in order to adopt and hone this skill.

Carl Rogers a famous psychologist said this:
“Lay aside your own views to enter another’s world without prejudice – this is only possible by people who are  so secure in themselves that they will not get lost in the other persons world”

Remember that understanding someone else doesn’t mean you agree with them but that you accept they are people of worth, you value them or you wouldn’t have spent time listening to them. You accept that they see their world differently and that their world has legitimacy. You’re saying; I accept you, I understand you – you matter to me

If relationship building is important to you and your business how do you take to this concept? Do you evaluate things from the other person’s context or do you always look from your own frame of reference? Something perhaps to ponder on over the coming festive season. Oh and go and buy 7 Habit’s (aff link) – It’s really changed my life this year.

Now Your Thoughts

  • Is this skill of listening with the intent to understand something you do yourself? Does it work for you if so?
  • Can you think of times where people have not listened to you – just talked at you or even worse, pretended to listen only to steam roller in afterwards – how did that make you feel?