Monday, March 18, 2013

Taking advantage of the social network

Knowing how to stand out from other graduates and job seekers can be tough. But Amy Russell, part time marketing executive for RAM Tracking and full time student at Huddersfield University, shares a few of her tips to getting ahead of the game.

There will be hundreds of thousands of new graduates, including myself, in the UK alone. So having your potential recognised and standing out from the crowd is becoming very difficult. There are some vacancies getting an extraordinary number of applicants, including the coffee shop that received 1,700 applications for only 8 jobs, so what can you do to ensure you get an interview?  

Having a good degree in a relevant subject will certainly help when looking to enter your desired career sector, but employers are looking for people with more than just a degree. Employers are in the position to choose the best applicants to give an interview to, so when there are over 1,000 CV’s sprawled across a desk or piling up in someone’s inbox, you want to be considered a candidate not a piece of paper.

Having an absolutely faultless CV is a great place to start but there are always others who have gone the extra mile, or ‘the networkers’. The adage ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is something we have all heard, but ‘the networkers’ are out there using social media to communicate with prospective employees. Rich Jones, recruiter and HR professional has recently said “if you’re not taking advantage of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, you’re not maximising your networking efforts”. The majority of people have profiles on these social networks and often use them for personal correspondence, but they also provide a great opportunity for professional networking.

When it comes to professional networking LinkedIn is by the far the most useful to build your professional contacts. Sending out invites to friends and people you know, or even influential figures in your preferred field, is a great starting point; but having a big list of contacts isn’t particularly useful until you start networking. Join groups about subjects that you are interested in, your desired career path, or areas related to your dissertation. Comment on posts and engage with the other members of the groups; be confident and let people know what you are doing in a professional sense.
When you feel you have developed a relationship with some members of the group message them personally. Ask them for advice or guidance, and what steps they took in their career to get where they are. Don’t be afraid to ask people questions, be proactive, if you don’t I guarantee someone else will.

Facebook is the most common social media channel for personal communication, but is rarely used in a professional sense. Building a professional online presence through Facebook may not be the most effective way to communicate with companies or potential employers, but you can definitely learn a lot about a brand and the way they communicate with the public.
But be aware that potential employers may look at your personal Facebook page to see how you communicate with people. Think about what you are about to post as a status, and whether the pictures from last Saturday night are going to come across as totally professional. Don’t be afraid to show you like to have fun and socialise, but be aware of what potential employers may gather from that information.

In the past 18 months Twitter has become increasingly popular for professional communication. Having a strong Twitter presence allows potential employers to see what topics interest you, and that you are confident enough to share your thoughts on these topics. Again, don’t be afraid to engage with people, ask influential figures questions or their opinion on something, even share articles with them that you have come across. Twitter provides you with direct communication to people working in your desired field, so make sure you take advantage of it.