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?

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Comments

  1. Charlie Collins says:

    Great article and one I would firmly endorse! My daughter graduated (polotics and media) from De Montfort University this summer and is now working for The Policy Exchange and part of her success was because she had set up a twitter account and created a linkedin profile.

    Your first point is an extremely valid one; Generation X appear almost not to care what they publish, well at least until they don’t get a job because of some photo’s they published during their freshers week.

    Your second, third and fifth points seem really obvious to me, but think they need highlighting as I am not sure graduates would realise just how obvious this is.

    As for your fourth comment – more learning – it’s probably the single most important one! Graduates come out of university thinking they are now armed with everything they need to tackle the workplace, they don’t! Of all the graduates I have interviewed two really stuck out and one – Grant Bagwell is now a director at Ayrmer Software – accepted he had a lot to learn and was prepared to accept this fundamental point (it really does speak volumes)! I have worked within the IT sector since 1990 and am still learning today, it is why I love my job.

    • Thanks Charlie. Love the fact your daughter used these tools to do this – great case study.

      Grant sounds like a great find. Hope I’ll get to meet him one day soon.

    • You make good points, I really hope I continue to learn all through my career. I study Maths, and am hoping to go into the technology sector, which will be almost continuous learning as it changes so rapidly!

      Though I hasten to add that I was in this talk, and Generation X are my parents’ generation. Also, please try not to generalise all young people; I, for one, take great care in what I post.

  2. Sean Humby says:

    Great article – as a governor at a local (to me!) high school academy many of the points are so relevant to the pupils – the listening and learning, the searching for own name (according to Wiki – Egosurfing!), being proactive and looking to stand out are so essential. I guess that the more you practise the better you become – 10,000 hours (Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers & Matthew Syed – Bounce) will less daunting starting at school! I will certainly be referring to these key points during some sessions that I deliver to the pupils! Thank you.

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