Using social media
Employers are increasingly using social media to connect with potential candidates and advertise vacancies. Often, employers will check out potential candidates online and in some industries may even be put off if they cannot see evidence of an online presence.
Students and graduates should use social media to market themselves, build connections with employers and engage with the industry they are looking to work in. Social media also enables students and graduates to network and gather information about the industry they want to work in.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site, with over 100 million users. It is free to join and relatively easy to set up a profile. Unlike Facebook, it is a business orientated site, where companies and individuals build connections and network. You do not have to already be in employment to join LinkedIn, in fact, there is a dedicated area relating to students.
You can use LinkedIn to:
- Market yourself. Put together a professional online ‘CV’ that demonstrates your skills and motivations. Ask past employers or tutors to endorse your work through recommendations. Employers look for potential candidates on LinkedIn and some recruiters search out candidates on the site so it is a good way of marketing your skills and experience.
- Find vacancies and get recruited. Employers are increasingly advertising jobs on LinkedIn so use it to find vacancies. There is an easy to use job search tool whereby you can get job alerts sent to you. Add as many of your skills as possible to your profile to ensure that you come up when recruiters search for candidates.
- Build up your network. Start by connecting with friends, family, other students on your course and people you have worked with or interned with in the past. Join your school and university alumni groups as this will contact you to hundreds more people. You can also invite people to join LinkedIn and connect with them.
- Use your network. Find out information about jobs, sectors and organisations by asking relevant people in your network. Use the connections you have to open up new connections, which may in turn lead to opportunities. Use LinkedIn networks to information interview, pose questions on group discussion pages and look at other people’s profiles to get a sense of how their careers have developed in particular industries.
- Engage with companies. Find organisations you are interested in and follow them, thereby getting up to date information on what the organisation is doing, its profile and whether it is hiring at the moment. Ask organisation contacts about culture of the organisation, what it's like to work there and how they got their job.
- Join groups, such as the SOAS Careers Service group. Join groups that are in the field you are interested in and link up to like-minded people, post questions and demonstrate to employers that you have an active interest in the field.
Companies and organisations use Twitter to provide information about what they are doing as well as posting job vacancies. You don’t have to tweet yourself but doing so can demonstrate to employers that you are engaged and interested in the industry.
You can use Twitter to:
- Follow companies, people, organisations of interest and brands to get industry insight and keep up to date. Tweet questions and ask for information or advice, which can contribute to your online networking activities.
- Use # (hashtags) for a quick way of searching for particular roles. For example, search for #internship to bring up each tweet that has been tagged with that term. Ensure that your tweets are positive and informed so as to give potential employers a good impression.
- Follow jobsites to get the latest vacancies and follow SOAS Careers Service to keep up to date with career events and news.
Whilst Facebook is not a business website, you may wish to use it for the following:
- Follow organisations that use Facebook for marketing, recruitment and updating information on their activities.
- There may be people in your Facebook network that work for organisations that you are interested in. You could send them an email through Facebook asking them quick, informal questions to get a bit more information.
- SOAS Careers Service has a Facebook page where we will post information on current jobs, information on careers events and careers related articles and links.
- Getting into International Development - A Careers Group forum for those developing careers in International Development.
Large organisations often have blogs written by their graduate trainees or interns which give insight into the company. Be aware that these are likely to have been vetted by the company themselves so may not present the most balanced information. Unofficial blogs can give more insight but keep an open mind when reading them.
You may wish to show future employers your writing skills, your interest in a subject area and your engagement with an industry through writing your own blog. This is especially useful for careers which require you to demonstrate strong writing skills e.g. journalism.
Relevant Blogs for SOAS students
- Industry Insider blog: The Careers Group Industry Insider blog is packed with tips, advice and news from a range of specialist industries, including international development, law, charities, and business and finance.
- SOAS Careers Blog - Change your World: Advice, Events and Information from SOAS Careers.
YouTube is the second largest search engine and as such, is a good way to find out more information about companies and what it is like to work for them. Larger companies often post information and advice on interviewing and assessment centres. You can also use YouTube to get information from careers professionals on different aspects of job hunting and find ‘how to’ videos on setting up profiles, writing CV’s etc.
Additional tips for using social media
- Present the right image. Employers are increasingly doing internet searches on potential candidates and this may be the first impression they have of you. Check what comes up if you type your name in to a search engine and ensure that it is an image that you want to present to employers.
- Keep personal and public separate. Check your privacy settings on your personal sites to ensure that employers can’t access embarrassing photos or anything that doesn’t present you in a good light.
- Check what you are putting ‘out there’. Check your posts or tweets for spelling and grammar mistakes. Be positive and don’t write anything that may put off potential employers now or in the future.
- Be up to date. Check that your online presence is up to date with any new activities or skills that may be of interest to potential employers.
- Be active. Attract interest from others and improve your online brand by being active on social media sites. Comment on group discussions, participate in group forums, and update your profiles and interests regularly.
- Be professional. Think about how to introduce yourself to a new contact. Take time to explain who you are and what result you would like from the connection. People are less likely to respond to information requests if they don’t know who you are or if you don’t target your email to them specifically.
- Be positive. Don’t complain about your situation or make off-putting remarks. Try to come across as personable, genuine and willing to engage so that people are more likely to become part of your network. Be mindful that once you have put something out in to cyber space it becomes accessible to everyone, employers included.
- Be willing to work on your online presence. Building a successful online presence and generating far reaching networks takes time. Be persistent and think about using more than one kind of social media.