Thursday, 2 December 2010

Advice for graduates: Using social media to job hunt

On Wednesday, I was invited to speak at the University of Manchester, talking to a group of students about how they could best use social media to increase their chances of getting a job in after their graduation.

While the recollections of my own student years have gradually disappeared down the memory hole, I was interested to return to university to share my own experiences and thoughts on how someone could develop an online CV which spans several websites.

One stat which I keep reeling out during talks on employability and social media comes from a survey from; that 43 per cent of employers search t'internet when they receive a CV from a potential candidate. And by 'search the internet', we're talking about name searches on Google, Bing, Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Twitter.

Out of those employers searching for candidates, 35 per cent found something online which caused them not to hire the candidate.

But don't turn off the lights on your blog or Facebook account just yet. The fact that just under half of employers are searching the web for potential candidates actually offers a massive opportunity for those postgraduates looking to move into a full-time job.

And here's why.

Because out of the employers that looked up an applicant, a large proportion found something online that impressed them about that candidate. So, what did they find?

A blog

I'd argue that blogging is one of the most important assets a graduate looking for a job can have. In my estimation, employers are looking for a candidate to have (among other things) an interest; a sign that a person isn't just applying for a job because of a desire to pay the rent, but rather because they have a genuine passion for the industry they're looking to move into.

And a blog is one of the best ways to demonstrate this. A relevant blog, I hasten to add.

  • If you want to work in advertising, write a blog about the campaigns you like.
  • If you want to work in copywriting, start a blog about copy which caught your imagination.
  • If you want to work in social media marketing, start a blog about social media campaigns. There are plenty of them to study.

You get the idea. Two posts a month, every month. Repeat as necessary. It's not a huge drain on time or resources when you consider the outcome. Because I guarantee that a person who blogs about what they want to do for a living is a lot more attractive to an employer than someone who doesn't blog at all.

Plus, you'll get the chance to learn more about the industry you want to work in.

A Twitter account

Students should tweet more. If you want to work in the digital industry, it's the singular most powerful tool you have in your arsenal. And here's why:

Twitter gives you a direct line to the people who hire people.

And here's what you can use it for:

  • Display a passion and an interest for your chosen career path. Link to content which interests you. Link to your blogs. Let people know about your interests.
  • Learn from people already working in the industry. (What are the hot topics in the industry? What do they link to? What is their job really like?)
  • Find job opportunities (yes, they're posted on Twitter)
  • Demonstrate your knowledge about an industry
  • Create relationships with people. For while they may not have a vacancy for your dream job, but they may know someone who does)

Use lists to find these people (many of these are organised by profession), but don't harass people for a job as soon as you find them.

Engage, acknowledge, share.

Also, try not to take your phone out drinking with you. Remember, don't post anything you wouldn't want your mother to see; you can lock the profile down so only friends see your updates, but that's not really the point of Twitter.

As an aside, a number of the students who attended the talks on Wednesday have recently signed up to (or already use) to Twitter. If you want to give them a bit of friendly advice (or keep an eye out for them for a potential position), they are (to the best of my knowledge):


Lock it. All the way down.

Watch out for profile pictures. I believe that the default setting of Facebook is to normally leave them all viewable regardless of whether you're a friend or not. The option to make them inaccessible to the public is separate from the other settings and can be found under the traditional privacy options via a link called 'edit album privacy'.

Rich media

If you want to move into a creative role, rich media is a godsend. Display your photos on Posterous, Tumblr or Flickr. 'Don't hide your work in a draw,' is an old writer's saying. The saying is true for most things.


Have a LinkedIn profile. It's like an online CV anyone can read. Make sure you fill out all the informational boxes: your experience, honours etc.

If you feel inclined, take part in some group discussions. I'd advise keeping to the local groups, just because it's less crowded; it's more relevant to the relationships and connections you're trying to create.

And the rest

Social media gives you the opportunity to advertise yourself in an entirely new way. Job hunting doesn't just have to be limited to sending out a CV and waiting for the phone to ring. These online channels give graduates the opportunity to demonstrate what they can offer a company; a passion, an interest and an inventive way to advertise their services.

And don't just stick to this advice. Be inventive. Be creative. Have fun.

But, trust me on the sunscreen.

And finally, here's some decent resources if you're interested (with a healthy marketing and social media bias):

Mashable - Leading social media resource for news and advice.
Guardian Technology - The major technology stories from The Guardian.
The Next Web - Another great resource for web and social media news.
How Do - North West news site focused on creative, marketing and business news in the North West.
How to get your first job in SEO - Some nice online advice, regardless of the career you're after.

No comments:

Post a Comment