Using online platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn to create profiles and engage in networking is an effective way to impress employers and boost your chances of landing a job
With High Fliers' The Graduate Market in 2017 report confirming that graduate recruiters continued to increase their use of social media during 2016/17, there are no excuses not to be well-connected - as you could end up losing out on opportunities.
Googling yourself and seeing what comes up in the search is a good place to start, suggests Rachel Basger, graduate talent manager at The Hut Group. 'Lots of employers are using social media to advertise roles, target potential employees and check out applicants.'
Why you should build a personal brand
Nik Hewitt, head of social media at Tank PR, explains that the way students present themselves online is of keen interest to employers.
'We're all brands now,' he says. 'You can learn a lot about people by the way they conduct themselves online. Would you recruit someone with an incomplete LinkedIn profile and no picture? What does it say about someone and the way they might organise their professional life?'
By creating strong profiles, coordinated across all the main platforms, you'll find that recruiters may get in touch with you. So manage your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram accounts correctly and you'll be well placed to reap the career rewards.
As it's a highly creative medium, you're perfectly fine to provide an insight into your personality, putting forward your ideas, opinions and interests. You can also use sites like YouTube, Vimeo and any personal blogs to present yourself to potential employers.
Rhea Chatterjee, The Hut Group's talent business partner, describes how the company targets students with particular interests relevant to our brands, such as, fitness, beauty, blogging, gaming, fashion etc. 'Understanding more about an individual's passions outside of academia and work is a vital part of our recruitment.'
How employers use social media to screen applicants
While most people have a Facebook account for personal use, Rachel poses the following interesting questions: What does your profile say about you? What are you posting? What conclusions could someone draw from these posts?
Indeed, Nik reveals that it's becoming common among recruiters to look at social profiles to learn more about potential employees before an interview. 'The world can see what we're up to, what we read, what we like, what we share, our interests and our embarrassing moments.'
When considering what put into the public domain, remember that what you publish can be used to prove or disprove claims that you've made in your CV and cover letter, or during an interview. You'll therefore need to give a positive representation of yourself, in the knowledge that potential employers will be viewing your profiles.
Once an interview is over, you'll still be expected to remain engaged - maintaining this connection throughout the recruitment process. 'Even after the interview, I know recruiters who check Twitter as standard practice to see if the candidate commented about the meeting afterwards,' says Nik.
Rachel also stresses the need for students to check that their accounts don't contain any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, while taking the time to ensure that everything's accurate and up to date.
Choose a sensible email address and consistent username alongside an appropriate current image for each profile, which should be made publicly visible. You can then link to other platforms that you're using professionally.
The benefits of engaging with employers on social media
Rhea describes how your various social media accounts can be used to track important updates and receive the latest news from companies that you've an interest in working for.
'Social media is a great forum for finding out more about organisations prior to interviews,' she says. This is because the information gathered can be used to come up with insightful questions to demonstrate to the interviewer that a particular employer is a priority for you. It gives you a sense of the company culture and how you might fit into that.
Most recruiters' graduate schemes have a specific presence on social media. Rob Farace, senior programme lead, resourcing, for the NHS Leadership Academy, reveals that you should follow all of the channels your preferred scheme operates across - or you could end up missing out on vital information.
'We use our social media channels to share helpful and informal advice with candidates about all stages of the selection process.'
5 tips for creating a professional LinkedIn profile
Rachel offers advice on using LinkedIn as your online CV and a crucial networking tool:
- Write a compelling headline that makes you stand out from the crowd. Get across your expertise in your chosen career and state why you're unique.
- Use your biography to let recruiters know what type of role you're after and share your current location with them. You can then list your course, key modules, dissertation, work experience, interests, hobbies and key accomplishments - but be selective, as some part-time jobs may not be relevant.
- Use the 'LinkedIn Groups' feature to find people sharing job leads in your local area.
- Look at people you admire to find out what they did to get where they are. You can then search similar profiles and companies.
- Follow companies and ensure your contact details are listed, making it easier for potential employers to get in touch.
Further guidance is available at your university's careers service. The University of Leeds, for example, offers 'LinkedIn Labs' that help students to create their profile and network.
You can also visit Prospects' LinkedIn profile.
3 tips for getting a job through Facebook
- Create two profiles - research suggests that recruiters are now using Facebook to search for prospective employees in the same way they use LinkedIn. It's therefore worth having two profiles - one personal and one professional, with the former being your private space.
- Provide detail - your professional profile should offer employers a comprehensive insight into what you can offer them. Include details of your education, work experience and skills, while taking into account appropriate keywords.
- Get involved - you should join relevant groups, and 'like' the companies that you're interested in.
Find out about the latest opportunities by keeping up with Prospects on Facebook.
How to use Twitter for job hunting
- Follow accounts - following relevant companies will help you to get a better feel for their brand, so find accounts that are influential in your chosen industry. They'll keep you up-to-date with the latest news and help you to make like-minded connections.
- Search for opportunities - make use of Twitter's search tool using specific keywords and hashtags. General terms such as #jobsearch work well, and Twitter's popularity in the media and internet, marketing, advertising and PR, and charity and voluntary work sectors make more specific searches worthwhile too.
- Get involved - tweet about work experience, reply to posts from other people regarding related topics and retweet posts from relevant accounts.
Be sure to follow @Prospects for the latest graduate opportunities.