Elisha Carey, Features Editor
The importance of building connections and networks cannot be overstated when it comes to career planning and there has never been an easier time in history to connect. Being able to use not only just LinkedIn, but Facebook and Twitter too, as tools to carve out career opportunities is a must have skill for all graduates of the ‘20s.
As a college student you’re likely to have a large digital footprint spanning across many online platforms, in order to effectively use your online presence to advance your career prospects, you’ll need to make sure any publicly accessible information about you online matches the professional image you want employers to see.
A national survey from 2017 found that 70% of employers screen candidates’ social media profiles, 57% said they were less likely to interview a candidate they couldn’t find online and 54% have decided not to hire based on social media profiles. Maintaining a positive online presence will speak volumes about your communication, relationship building and influencing skills, in addition to your personal judgement.
Your personality, or personal brand does not always come across in your CV, so recruiters have started looking up the social media profiles of candidates coming for interviews in order to capture the full picture of them. Most employers nowadays expect that, at a minimum, you will have a publicly accessible LinkedIn that they can interact with. It’s time to stop thinking of your social media as hindrance and think of ways it can actually help your job search!
Top tip: review your privacy settings
For each of your social media accounts, even if you don’t intend to use them as part of your career hunt, think about what content you are happy for potential employers to see and what you feel is best saved for your followers only.
For some accounts, you may decide to make your profile completely private, only accessible to your followers and you will need to approve or accept any new request, but other profiles may be important to your personal brand so you may just want to tweak a few settings so that certain content is only visible to your friends or followers. On Facebook, for example, you can display a reduced profile to people you aren’t friends with. On Instagram, you can create a list of close friends and choose to only share your ‘story’ with them, or you can hide it from specific accounts.
You might choose to reserve certain platforms like TikTok and Instagram for recreational purposes and then others like Twitter and LinkedIn for strictly professional interactions, or you may feel that all of your existing profiles strike a happy medium between personal and private. Either way, it is wise to do a self-audit of your social media accounts to make sure there’s no controversial photos or conversations lurking about that would scupper your chances at employment.
The Google Search Audit
Do a quick Google search of your name and take a look at what an employer would see when they Google you (which they probably will!)
- Close out of all of your social media accounts.
- Search for yourself by name, nicknames, misspellings of your name and your name followed by a few keywords, e.g. hometown, school etc.
- Search for your email address, frequently used username, and phone number.
Having done all this, how much information did you find about yourself online? What do you think it says about you to a potential employer?
LinkedIn has grown hugely in popularity in the last number of years, acting as something of a one-stop-shop for all your career needs. As well as being an online CV, the platform offers skills courses, and blog posts with career advice as well as a messaging feature to enable networking with ease.
In order to optimise on your LinkedIn profile, it’s important to have a good, clear profile picture. This should generally be taken from the shoulders and it doesn’t hurt to smile! As for the banner picture, Stephen O’Brien, a Producer from LinkedIn recommends using Canva.com to design something that will stand out and speak to your personal brand. Your headline, Stephen says, should feature “a one-line elevator pitch”, this is one sentence that captures who you are and why you’re on LinkedIn. Bear in mind that if you comment or post on the platform, your name, profile picture and the headline are all visible, so make it something interesting! Below this you can add in buzz words to describe what you study, your extracurriculars and interests. Stephen explains that these sections on the profile are really key because they trigger the algorithm.
In the “About” section, Stephen recommends that you give a brief overview of your work history, education and current role and to make it clear that you’re open to chat. The “Featured” section allows you to add in media like articles or blog posts you’ve written and project videos or photos. Adding your work to the “Featured” section will really make you stand out of the crowd! The “Experience” section takes much the same format as your CV, with sections to make entries of your work experience. Stephen recommends mimicking the language used in the job description of the job you want to describe your work experience in the “Experience” section. Keep an eye on your spelling and grammar in all posts and remember to update your profile regularly!
Most graduate recruiters use LinkedIn very actively during their recruitment processes, make sure you’re liking their posts and asking questions, this way you’ll be remembered when they are selecting applicants to interview. Stephen also recommends connecting with the alumni who work at the companies you’re interested in, not only is this great insight into what it’s like to work in your chosen industry but it also broadens your network. Remember, building networks is a slow-burn, long-term process but it is worth investing the time. Make sure people know you are looking for work, but don’t push it. Develop relationships before you ask for help.
Check out the UCC Alumni LinkedIn for Networking guide on the Careers website!
A lot of people are of the opinion that Facebook is best kept mainly for personal use, however, companies are increasingly using the platform to advertise opportunities like graduate programmes and internships, so it’s worth giving the ones you’re interested in a follow and updating your profile when you reach milestone like starting a degree or a new job! Request to join relevant groups and engage in discussion forums to demonstrate your knowledge and interest.
Again, Twitter is not likely to be the first site you think of when using social media to further your career, but recent years have seen employers and recruiters flock to the platform to post 140 character #jobvacancies! Twitter tends to allow you to give a more genuine impression of your personality than LinkedIn so the boundaries between personal and professional can be blurred, you need to be careful about how much you reveal. Make your bio specific, if you’re looking for a job make that clear and add in a link to your blog or website if relevant. Keep tabs on #jobfairy and #jobvacancy hashtags. Twitter is great for networking as, unlike Facebook, you are more likely to come into contact with people outside your immediate circle. Only thing to note about Twitter is that it does require frequent tweeting due to the live updates and constant interaction.
Instagram is less formal and a lot more personal than other platforms and is more widely used by the media, marketing, creative industries. Just like Twitter, it’s an opportunity to showcase your passions and a unique side of your personality which can appeal to the right employer. However, remember, it’s a fine line between posting a pic of a recent culinary experience and a messy Saturday night out
If you’ve met and had a constructive conversation with a grad recruiter at a virtual career fair or presentation, it’s often a good idea to send them an email as a follow up to thank them for any advice they gave or enquire about an upcoming job opportunity. Doing this will help you stand out during the recruitment process and increases your chances of success!
If you’d like more advice on optimising your online presence, you can book a consultation with a Career Consultant at the link below: