Richard Finch is part of the employer engagement team in the University’s Careers and Employability Service. Here he explores how students can make the most of social media in their search for graduate employment:
Using social media such as Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter to keep in touch with friends and family through sharing posts, photos and videos is so normal that you probably don’t give much thought to it.
But as well allowing you to keep in touch with people you know, social media is increasingly being used by potential employers to communicate with students about their placements, internships and graduate job opportunities.
So far so good, but beware – employers often use social media to find out more about applicants, with the majority of recruiters now using social media at some point during the selection process, some even as part of decision-making in the screening of applications.
So how do you balance your personal use of social media with the need to have a professional online presence?
The first thing to remember is that 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 a potential employer to be viewing it? If the answer is ‘probably not’ then don’t post it.
You also need to think about who can access your posts and make use of privacy settings. Consider what content you’re happy for anyone to see and what you feel is best shared only with people you know.
Paul Gaunt, Head of Careers & Employability explains: “There’s no doubt that students have to consider their online or social media presence and what it says about them – and that 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 presence for potential employers to view in your final year will probably be too late.”
At the same time it’s worth thinking about how you can use social media to help with your future career as it’s a great way to stay informed about the latest opportunities, raise your profile and even network with recruiters.
LinkedIn, for example, can be used to highlight your skills and experience to potential employers, and you can join groups and discussions that allow you to express professional opinions and network with recruiters.
Twitter and Facebook are also great for keeping up to date with the latest career related news, and for finding out about job opportunities, competitions and events. Twitter is also perfect for interacting directly with potential employers, asking questions and picking up tips that will help you through the recruitment process.
Used effectively, social media allows you to make contact directly with recruiters, and can help you to demonstrate the skills, experience and abilities that will help you stand out from the crowd in a competitive jobs market.
Just remember that you only get one chance to make a first impression, and for many students today, this means social media.