Social networking - presenting yourself effectively online
What comes up if you Google your name?
A bad first impression is difficult to overcome, and if an employer searches for you online having received your application, you want all the hard work you've done on your application to be backed up, or even enhanced by what they find online. What's more, in some industries such as journalism, digital media, marketing and PR engaging in social media beyond posting photos of your friends on Facebook is becoming essential. For example, the BBC Director of Global News told his journalists in 2011: 'Be on Twitter or be sacked.'
Using social networking sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook should be part of your job hunt alongside more traditional websites and newspapers. More and more employers are using these to connect with potential candidates and to advertise their vacancies.
Here are the key things to remember to make sure that you use networks to your advantage:
- What should I sign up for?
- Finding vacancies
- Show employers your interest and potential
- Connect with people (network)
- Dos and don'ts
What should I sign up for?
Whilst you are probably on Facebook for social reasons, you will want to consider LinkedIn and Twitter. On LinkedIn you can build an online picture of yourself - an extended CV. A bit like a 'professional Facebook', you can build a 'network' of useful contacts. Find out how it can be useful to you. On Twitter, you can enter an online conversation by 'following' people and comment on what's interesting to you.
It is often quoted that 70% of all vacancies are never advertised, and social networking is another way to tap that 'hidden job market'. Many large recruiters use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to post vacancies - why wouldn't they? It's free!
Many smaller and medium sized companies will also use their networking site to send out messages that they are recruiting - again, it's free and they are more likely find their target audience quickly. If you follow them, it's likely that you're interested in them, right?
Many jobsites - e.g. Monster - and university careers services have twitter accounts, so it's a great way to find out about vacancies quickly. A great example is The Guardian job twitter feeds in specific sectors - 'follow' the feed and you have tailored job searching at your fingertips, e.g. @GJ_Gov_London will give you all government jobs in London, @gjobsgraduate will give you All Graduate Jobs.
Use # (hashtags) for a quick way of searching the twittersphere. For example, search for #internship to bring up each tweet that has been tagged with that term.
Show employers your interest and potential
'Follow' relevant organisations, firms and people who are influential in the field you are interested in. Comment or 'tweet' showing an interest in the trends or news in those sectors.
Put together a well written profile - much like an online CV. You can also 'join' discussion groups and 'follow' companies related to the field you're interested in to demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm. PwC are an example of an organisation who use it extensively.
If you are creative you can show off your talents through online examples of your work and include links to them on your CV and LinkedIn profile.
Develop your commercial awareness A great way to keep up-to-date with what is going on in an industry or with an organisation - 'follow' them to get beyond what they just state on their website. This is crucial for targeted applications and interviews.
Connect with people (network)
Start by inviting people you know to 'connect' with you- like inviting a friend on Facebook. These connections then may open up new connections which may lead to opportunities. Join 'groups' and 'follow' companies -- ask for advice-as long as the questions are intelligent, people will be glad (and flattered!) to help. Start with the UoB Alumni Group.
'Follow' relevant organisations, firms and people who are influential in the field you are interested in. Comment or 'tweet' showing an interest in the trends or news in those sectors. Ask questions for advice. Be positive!
Think amongst your friends, or friends of friends, who could have some useful information for you - anyone work in your dream sector? Message them a quick, informal question - perhaps about how they got their job? Most people will be flattered that you're interested. You can also 'subscribe' to link to people who post things publicly.
Organisations may have company profiles and insights which gives you a wider picture of who they are. Ask organisation contacts about culture of the organisation, what it's like to work there and how they got their job. It is also worth bearing in mind that many organisations now recruit graduates by posting advertisements on the LinkedIn student job portal.
Tweet informed questions about the sector and for advice. Follow organisations to find out more about the culture and what's important to them. Many organisations will also tweet their opinions about relevant new stories.
Some companies will have Facebook pages with comment about their recent work or recruitment practice. Asking intelligent questions to find out more.
Dos and don'ts
- Make sure that your profile picture is at least neutral
- Make the most of privacy settings to limit what recruiters can see on your 'personal' networking pages - see the Information Security pages on the university website.
- Ensure your updates, tweets and profile are all correctly spelt and grammatically correct
- Remain professional at all times - do not harass or spam people for information or advice - think proactive, friendly and informed
- Find the University of Bristol Careers Service fan page on Facebook and tweet us @uobcareers