Student Employability – How to use Social Media to Find Work

As we edge further into 2014, final year university students start to worry about exams and dissertations as those deadlines draw closer. But what some students often don’t get around to doing is actually preparing for the world of work when they finish their degree.

You work incredibly hard in your final year to ensure you get the classification you want, but then suddenly you’re in the position where you need to start applying for jobs, graduate schemes or training schemes. As important as it is to perfect your final year’s uni work, it is just as important to start doing your industry research and preparation early, which is why your online profile is the first place to start.

Last year I was asked to give a talk to students at Leeds Trinity University as part of their Employability and Enterprise Week advising students as they prepare to start their careers. My talk was focused on encouraging students to start using social media professionally to increase their employability and for research purposes in particular.

It surprised me that so many of the students there had not even heard of LinkedIn and didn’t particularly use Twitter, when these are precisely the social tools to showcase your skills and experience to employers online to help secure your first role after graduating.

Starting with the basics, I got the students to start thinking about how they represent themselves online, and to think about what a potential future employer sees when they Google their name. The great thing about social media is that you can control what people see when they search for you online as they are most often the first results that appear in search engines.

Using my own online profile as an example, I ran through the Facebook privacy settings. I choose to keep my Facebook profile private, yet the majority of students still have public profiles, which is inappropriate for many considering the personal content they share on the network.

The key learning I wanted the students to take from the session was to see social media as a way to control their public profile and to think about recruiters who will be see it as it is often the first check they make when looking for potential job candidates.

Some people are generally more private than others, so I recommended using Twitter and LinkedIn at the very least as professional profiles that showcase their work and experience, if not necessarily being on there 24/7. However I did emphasise the importance of using these networks to research potential roles/companies to keep up to date with opportunities and industry trends.

The place people go to really find out what a person or organisation is like is their social media. Your social media profiles and activity showcases your personality and expertise, start using it now to make connections and join in topics of conversation and develop your voice in your industry of interest.

You can see my presentation for employability week below. I hope you take some tips from it if you’re currently looking for a job or will be very soon. Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions or advice to share.

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