Used effectively for activities such as research and self-promotion, social media can dramatically enhance your employability. However, if used carelessly, social media can significantly damage your chances in the job market. This guide outlines some of the things you need to consider, and the ways you can make the most of it.
Portray the right image
Employability isn’t simply about getting your next job. It’s about your ability to develop and manage a satisfying career.
Through social media you have the opportunity to maintain your professional identity, and make yourself known and visible for the right reasons. When you apply for a job, your potential employer is likely to search for you online to find out more about you, so the image you present is vital
Make sure nothing is visible that you wouldn’t want employers to see when they search for you. Many professions such as nursing, teaching and law also have guidelines on the use of social media which emphasise the need to behave professionally online. Have a look online for examples of guidance from the areas you’re interested in.
We know from employers that being distinctive and strategic online will help you stand out from other applicants, so consider what makes you different, then back it up with examples. For example, if you have a niche area of knowledge, share interesting articles and participate in discussions around that topic. If you have a particular skill, demonstrate it.
Develop a strategy
To stand a better chance of success with finding a job and attracting employers, you need to be pro-active.
This might include:
- researching employers and practitioners in your area, and staying up to date with news from your industry
- searching for vacancies – employers are increasingly using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to promote them
- making connections by linking with individuals working in your area
- following employers, making contact and asking them questions to get a greater insight into an organisation – and to promote yourself
Decide which social media tools will be most useful
Each social media tool has its own strengths and applications. Be clear about what you want to achieve and how you are going to go about it. Find out which tools are used by those working in your subject area or industry, and research why and how they are used.
Consider how much time you want to devote to social media. It’s better to be regularly and purposefully active on one or two platforms than spread thinly across a number of platforms with out of date content. It also helps to be consistent across your professional profiles and link between them to present a coherent picture to potential employers.
This is much more than an online CV. Creating a LinkedIn account will help ensure that a professional profile appears in any Google search by potential employers.
Use LinkedIn to:
- research company information and follow key influencers in your chosen sector
- identify the skills that employees in your sector need to possess
- demonstrate your interest in a sector by joining and participating in discussion groups
- make connections and develop your network
- find out what previous graduates from your course have gone on to do to using the ‘Alumni’ tool
A carefully-worded profile can attract followers, including potential employers.
Use Twitter to:
- follow employers, practitioners and commentators in your area of interest
- keep up to date with news and events in your sector
- raise your profile and demonstrate your interest by joining in with discussions
- draw attention to your activity on other platforms, for instance when you have posted on your blog, or added to your e-portfolio
Consider whether it’s better to create separate personal and professional profiles and not link them together. Remember that personal profiles are often public by default unless you set them otherwise.
Use Facebook to:
- ‘like’ relevant companies’ Facebook pages and receive updates from them
- join groups relevant to your job search, post comments and participate in discussions
- post content relevant to your career and your job search
Other social media tools
The range of tools changes frequently, and you should be able to find out from your friends and tutors which ones are used in your subject area.
- Pinterest – a visual pinboard, good for showcasing your work, and for research and collection of resources
- blogging sites such as WordPress – good for establishing your online identity and demonstrating your interests and skills
- Dribbble, Behance, and Art Rules – for the creative sector