Published: 6 December 2013

Social media: Friend or foe?

Dr Paul Redmond

Director of Employability and Educational Opportunities at the University of Liverpool and a leading UK expert on the graduate labour market, Dr Paul Redmond, has been exploring how students can make the most of social media in their search for graduate employment:

“A partner at one of the UK’s Big Four professional services firms recently told me that it is routine procedure for employers to search the social media sites of job candidates and use the material as a basis for questions in interview.

“In fact, the majority of graduate employers are now using social media at some point during the selection process, some even as part of the decision-making process supporting the screening of applications.

“There’s no doubt that students are having to consider their ‘online’ or ‘social media self’ far more than previously and it doesn’t just start when you want to find a job.

“Employers are looking to make contact with students from as early as the first year of an undergraduate course, which means that preparing your ‘social media self’ for potential employers to view in your final year won’t put you in the strongest position. You might find the ship has already sailed, and could find it harder to get on board in time for graduation.

“But social media also presents many opportunities. Students and graduates have more platforms and tools now than ever before to show what they can bring to an employer. If used effectively, social media can equip you with useful and highly transferable skills, and can really make you stand out from the crowd in a competitive jobs market.

“LinkedIn in particular, is increasing in popularity, and some employers are even asking graduates to apply for jobs via the social media platform.

“So from an employer‘s perspective, what was the partner’s advice? ‘When you put pictures and opinions out there, you lose control of the content and the distribution of it, so ask yourself: Would you want your employer to be viewing it? If the answer is ‘probably not’ then don’t press send.

“Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and for many students today, this means social media.”

If you’re interested in getting help, hints and tips about how to make social media work for you, please view our Student Guide to Social Media or visit the Careers and Employability Service.

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