Thanks to social media we now have access to more real-time news, more pictures of kittens and more information about what our random acquaintances are up to than ever before.
But social media can also be a useful tool in job searches; the trick is to engage with the various platforms in a thoughtful and organised way. You should aim to use the different networks together to create and communicate a coherent set of ideas about yourself – your ‘brand’ – to potential employers.
To find out how your brand looks at the moment, Google your name. What are the results like? How would they look to your ideal employer? Remember that many recruiters do actually Google applicants’ names.
One imaginary second-year Business Management student called Alice, who wants to work in Human Resources, does just this, and searches her name on the internet…
The first thing Alice sees is a link to her Facebook page. Even though she’s logged out from her Facebook account and using a college computer, she can still visit the page and see a number of photos. Her potential employer could do this too. Some of the photos are from her recent holiday in Ayia Napa. What does she do?
- She makes sure she understands how Facebook’s privacy settings work, and she sets them to hide anything she wouldn’t want a potential employer to see.
- Then she thinks about ways of using Facebook proactively in future job searches. She joins careers groups and likes particular companies’ careers pages, so that she can see their updates and receive regular information about job opportunities.
- In future, she can use Facebook to keep in touch with people she meets during internships or work experience.
None of the search results indicate the career path Alice plans to follow, the work experience she already has or her enthusiasm for her chosen field; for this reason, her online presence is uninformative and uninspiring for potential future employers. What does she do?
- She joins LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the most important social media network for professional purposes and it allows Alice to create a profile summarising her career experience and goals.
- She familiarises herself with the tone and style of the discussions, posts and profiles. Then she uses it to:
- make connections with people working in her field
- read company pages to find information about job opportunities and
- join groups relevant to her career interests.
Alice has now taken steps to hide anything potentially embarrassing on Facebook, and to develop her career-focused internet presence on LinkedIn. In part 2 of this post, she’ll think about how to use Twitter and blogging for career purposes.
Part 2 to follow soon…
QM Careers & Enterprise Centre