Emily Knowles is a media studies graduate working in PR and copywriting.
After finishing my degree in 2011, my prospects of finding a decent entry-level job looked bleak. My marks were all right, but not outstanding, and the last sports award I won was in senior school.
1. Bleak prospects for job-hunting graduates
The only way to prevent my CV from becoming a handy source of recyclable paper was through a post-graduate diploma. It would make me appear more ‘accomplished’ than the stiff competition posed by fellow graduates all fighting for a handful of jobs.
2. Use social media to be noticed by employers
There are a multitude of easier (and cheaper) avenues to get noticed by employers. I found the most informative exploration of the ways to increase my employability was From Student to Salary with Social Media. The book was a really insightful read. I already understood that social media platforms played a role in furthering or hindering the recruitment process, but I wasn’t aware of the extent of it’s ability to advertise one’s professional capabilities and employability.
3. If companies market themselves – why shouldn’t graduates?
The function of marketing is not limited to just the marketing department. Clients can, and most likely will, judge a company’s ability to perform on anything from the secretary’s appearance to the use of a professional tone in email correspondence. The book has highlighted this idea, showing students how to market themselves in accordance to the firm’s desired ethos, culture and/or structure.
Companies use SEO (search engine optimisation) to improve their rankings on search engines such as Google. They are effectively advertising their product/service, so it makes sense that the same measurement tool can be utilised by students to ensure their online profiles contain the right keywords and links which will correspond to an employer’s search criterion.
4. Employers do check out online profiles
According to From Student to Salary, you can be assured that the first thing a potential employer will do is type your name into their search engine. Sam Waterfall highlights this idea in his presentation for Newcastle University’s Business School. He identifies that such a search could reveal your story, your nightmare or simply nothing.
The rather traditional lecturers at my university frowned on the use of social media platforms to advertise professionally, classifying it as ‘a modern obstruction to gainful employment’, and their concern is understandable. Sarah Larby illustrates how Facebook is often the raison d’être, which cost you your job. Like many, I began decreasing my activity on Facebook thinking that no information was better than bad information. However, the book shows us that the point is not to avoid being found online altogether, but rather to use various platforms to create a comprehensive online portfolio and resume. In essence it is all about leverage.
5. Twitter can help potential employees engage with employers
From Student to Salary gives other uses for Twitter other than describing every mundane activity of daily life. Twitter, like LinkedIn can function as a relationship builder, connecting potential employees to employer. We can flatter employers by re-tweeting them, publicly demonstrate our eagerness to work in their field and develop a detailed understanding of our employers’ ongoing projects/interests/dislikes which can only serve to benefit a candidate in an interview situation. A great website to accompany the book in this regard is mashable.com.
The book demonstrates that social media platforms provide a wealth of opportunity if utilised and managed correctly and consistently. Potential employers want to know that we have a personal life, hobbies, interests…but they don’t want to see that the highlight of your week for the past 3 years was ‘Thirsty Thursday’ or ‘2-for-1 Tuesday.
7. Create employer-friendly social media profiles to get a job
Student to Salary with Social Media explains that social media is not the barrier (like we are too often told) to one’s employability, but rather that it is the content contained within each site and how it is managed which can hinder or progress your application.
Ultimately, it is your personality and not your exam results that will determine whether you fit into a firm’s organisational structure and ethos, long-term. And thus it so important to start focusing on creating a work-friendly, professional portfolio on multiple social platforms today.
Looking back, I am really cross with our universities for failing to understand how the world has changed and giving us best advice to get a job. Our lecturers were out of touch and did not get social media. Or is this not the role for a university?
Victoria TomlinsonChief executive, Northern Lights PR
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Ben PindarCommunications director, Northern Lights PR
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Helen RobinsonAssociate, Northern Lights PR
Jonny RossAssociate, Northern Lights PR
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