While social media platforms have become integral to our personal lives, they're also a powerful recruitment tool - discover how building a personal brand could be the key to successful job hunting

High Fliers' The Graduate Market in 2023 review has confirmed that nearly all (95%) of the UK's leading recruiters listed in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers are using social media as a means of finding graduate talent. Indeed, over a quarter (27%) of these organisations determined their 2022/23 recruitment campaigns to have been 'very successful'.

Social media statistics

It's easy to see why social media platforms are becoming so popular for recruiters - Digital 2023: The United Kingdom, a joint survey between We are social and Meltwater, found that over 84% (57.1 million people) of the UK population is active on social media (January 2023).

With nearly 50 million users aged 18 and above using social media in the UK, it's no wonder that advertising jobs through this medium is fast becoming the quick, accessible way of reaching graduates as well as those who'd like to make a career change.

Online data portal Statista revealed that nearly 50 million UK-based internet users watched online videos in 2021, with digital video audiences expected to reach just under 54 million by 2026.

The growing impact of videos can be seen in the social media statistics for dedicated sites such as YouTube and TikTok. On average, users have spent 15 hours and 30 minutes and 27 hours and 18 minutes per month respectively engaging with these two platforms.

The survey revealed that the most used social media site is now WhatsApp, with over 73% of internet users aged 16 to 64 using the platform each month.

This is followed by the more traditional names of:

  • Facebook (70.7%)
  • Instagram (56.4%)
  • Facebook Messenger (55.3%)
  • Twitter (42.8%).

With over a quarter (27.1%) of internet users spending time on LinkedIn each month, this shows how a significant proportion of users are engaging in networking for work purposes.

So, where your career is concerned, it's time to consider how you set up your various profiles for a selection of the leading platforms.

Building a personal brand

When applying for jobs, remember that potential employers are likely viewing your social profiles, so you need to give a positive representation of yourself and your 'personal brand'.

Create a strong online profile that's integrated across the most popular platforms, and you'll be well-positioned to reap the career rewards, both in terms of your current job search and for future openings.

Use a consistent username and appropriate image for each account, which should be made publicly visible. Also, link to other platforms that you're using professionally.

Bear in mind that social media is a creative medium, so it's fine to show off your personality, putting forward your ideas, opinions and interests outside of academia and work - for example, if you're into sport, fitness, gaming or fashion.

What you detail in your profiles will let employers know more about you as an individual, providing an insight into your personality that will hopefully impact positively on your job applications.

Create a LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is a social network for professionals and with 35 million UK members, it's the easiest way to make connections in your industry from the comfort of your home. LinkedIn also advertises vacancies, so it's a great place to search for jobs as well.

Your profile should detail relevant professional information including your previous experience, skillset and education history, which you can then use to connect with companies and individuals and start building a network of contacts.

You'll be recommended jobs based on your interests and the companies you follow, so by signing up you could come across opportunities that you didn't know existed.

Make sure your profile is ready to be seen by recruiters by:

  • Utilising your biography - this is the first thing recruiters see when looking at your profile, so make it count. Let them know what type of roles you're looking for and share your current location, as well as your course, key modules, dissertation, work experience, interests, hobbies and key accomplishments - but be selective, as some part-time jobs may not be relevant.
  • Following relevant companies - they'll post company and sector-wide updates, so this is a great way of staying clued up on what's happening in the industry.
  • Looking to people you admire - thanks to the 'Experience' section of LinkedIn profiles, you can see the steps taken by people in the roles you're aspiring to enter.

Once you've got it all set up, you can follow Prospects' LinkedIn profile.

Search for jobs on Facebook

According to the survey, Facebook is the nation's second most popular platform. What's more, it can reach over 34 million of the UK's population through advertising.

As the majority of Facebook's audience logs in for personal use, it may not seem like the obvious place to look for jobs. However, with the number of active users at their fingertips, employers are now listing opportunities on their accounts.

In terms of making your own Facebook profile look professional, fill out the 'Work and education' section, adding any notable achievements (such as promotions and travel opportunities) to your 'Life events' timeline.

Avoid making rude or negative comments about previous employers on your profile, even in jest, and don't share anything that would be deemed unprofessional - whether or not you've applied for a position through Facebook. This is because employers often look to candidates' profiles to gauge whether they'll be a suitable fit for the company.

Take a look at Prospects on Facebook.

Find a career on Twitter

Twitter offers a more relaxed approach to social networking, where users discuss their interests through likes, retweets and sharing 280-character updates, although Twitter Blue users are now able to post 4,000-character updates. With over 23 million Twitter users in the UK, it's fast becoming a place for employers to find passionate, ambitious graduates.

To use this to your professional advantage:

  • Get inventive with your bio - you'll have to be snappy, as Twitter only offers 160 characters for this, but it should be enough to introduce yourself and state the types of roles you're looking for. Tag your location here and link a website (this could be your LinkedIn profile, a blog or portfolio) to give employers easy access to your work.
  • Engage with others in your industry - following someone you admire on Twitter is a less personal process than connecting with them on LinkedIn. By joining in conversations, which you can find by searching relevant hashtags, you'll gain access to a range of voices, opinions and opportunities to inspire you.
  • Stay up to date with current affairs - tweets take seconds to post and are quick and easy to digest, meaning organisations use them to report breaking news and make announcements. If you're following the right mix of professionals and companies, your Twitter feed should be a real-time account of what's happening in your industry, as it happens.
  • Get to know your employers - it works both ways. Search and follow employers to find out what projects they're currently working on and to get a feel for the company.

Include your Twitter handle in job applications. It's a great way to show employers your personality, and having the confidence to invite others in will make a great first impression.

Be sure to follow @Prospects.

Social media for networking

Here are some ways you may also be able to find a job through social networking:

  • By building contacts on social platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter, you can keep up with the latest industry developments and may even get recommended for roles.
  • Attend online and in-person networking events to discover what your peers and mentors are doing. Get some ideas on networking and finding a job.
  • At university, keep up with careers fairs, podcasts and other events that can boost your job prospects.
  • Discover what graduate schemes are actually like by reading what current and previous graduates think of the programme. Get involved with Q&A sessions that provide an insight into the work culture of that organisation. This allows you to make a more informed decision on whether the company is the right fit for you.

Find out more

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