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Why social media is such a key player in today's graduate job hunt

29th December 2016

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A survey by Konetic has found that 80% of HR teams use social media for sourcing new staff.

That’s probably why half of all job seekers are active on social networking sites on a daily basis. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn — even Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr — allow employers to get a glimpse of who you are outside the confines of a CV, cover letter, or interview.

Meanwhile, they offer job seekers the opportunity to learn about companies they’re interested in, connect with current and former employees and hear about job openings near-instantaneously.

Each social network has its own unique characteristics and best practices, so it's in your best interest to tailor your strategy to the site you're using. Here’s a rundown of the best practices for job searching on social channels most commonly used by recruiters.

Linkedin is an obvious choice for networking

LinkedIn is the go-to network for both professionals and hiring managers, so should be a top priority for your social media-related job search efforts. According to Career Glider, 79% of recruiters make hires through LinkedIn, and of those who use it, more than 90% search for, contact and screen candidates based on their profiles.

Completing all the basic sections of your profile is important, but you should also make an effort to make your page content-rich. Collect recommendations and endorsements from colleagues and add context to all qualifications and experiences you list. Once your profile is populated with relevant information and professional qualifications, job applications are as simple as a click, with LinkedIn’s ‘export CV’ tool and the inApply’ button.

But that’s not the end of it — LinkedIn is a social network after all, and it’s all about making connections. Like every network, it’s important to start with a core group. Whether it’s colleagues, friends or family, the people you see on a regular basis serve as a foundation to your professional network and act as your personal brand advocates. Each one counts: every connection you make on LinkedIn is connected to an average 110 other professionals.

And as you might expect, it's a place where communities thrive. As SAP recruiting experts Eursap explain: “LinkedIn has become an essential networking tool for SAP consultants, with over 500,000 SAP-related professionals registered.” In fact, there are a number of sizeable SAP Groups, and a large number of SAP Jobs posted on Linkedin by both clients and specialist recruitment agencies every day. Philips Healthcare built an entire community around LinkedIn as one of their three key business strategies.

Follow companies in your field and keep up with the latest developments. Join the conversation about new product developments and put yourself out there. There’s even a nifty guide on how to network on LinkedIn. If you’re looking to get into a niche industry, utilising LinkedIn for professional networking is a great way to increase your chances of finding employment.

Twitter is best for keeping up with trends

Your Twitter presence gives recruiters bite-sized snippets of your interests, personality and engagement in industry conversations. While you won't be able to give as thorough a summary of yourself as you can on LinkedIn, you can use your Twitter bio to give a general overview of your skills and field. You can also follow and engage with influential users and companies in your chosen industry.

When you're looking for a job, a good percentage of your tweets, retweets and replies should focus on topics that are relevant to the companies you want to work for.

Academics, for example, are among those most active on Twitter, and regular ‘microblogs’ or tweets can boost a PhD or research candidate’s profile. So make sure you’re using the proper hashtags to both be noticed and to take notice of thought leaders in the industry. Meanwhile, help others out by answering questions, making introductions and providing links to provocative content. It’s a great way to mark yourself as an authority in your field.

Show both your authenticity and your ability to fellow users by offering your help by answering a question or voting on a poll. Giving assistance by using your career expertise in particular will demonstrate your viability as a job candidate.

Facebook allows you to demonstrate your personality

Facebook may seem a little passé to today’s young graduates, but according to Career Glider’s infographic, 83% of job seekers are still active on the social networking site. According to one study, up to two thirds of recruiters are using Facebook to find qualified job candidates.

Dell’s career page on Facebook has more likes than Facebook’s own careers page. They highlight the achievements of individual employees, allow users to apply to jobs through the page (with a Taleo app), and showcase the company’s culture through employee quotes and pictures of events. Following company profiles is a useful way to stay up to date.

But just because job seekers and HR managers alike are active on Facebook, that doesn’t necessarily mean recruiters always pleased by what they find. According to an article published on Business News Daily, over half of employers on the site have found content that convinced them to reject a candidate. Examples include provocative or inappropriate photographs, discriminatory comments related to race, gender or religion and public criticism of past employers.

It’s important, then, to make an effort to delete or untag questionable past content, and ensure that any personal content remains private through the appropriate settings. What you should make public is your employment information, your location and professional skills or interests to make yourself searchable for HR managers.

With the introduction of Facebook Intro, employment and education history has been promoted to the front page of your profile. As suggested by this Huffington Post article, your Intro can reflect the persona you have on Facebook — publishing public articles is likely to promote your job title over other information fields, for example. It can be curated, of course, by clicking the pencil icon next to your Intro, but it indicates a change in Facebook’s identity from a ‘friend’ network to a ‘professional’ network.

And as with other social networks, engaging with industry-specific communities on Facebook is a great way to connect with other people in your field. There are thousands of groups to search, and since the introduction of Facebook tagging, you can follow key profile mentions and trends.  If you feel uncomfortable using your existing Facebook profile to join groups and contribute to discussions, consider creating a separate ‘public’ profile that includes only professional content.

Tumblr, Instagram and YouTube can showcase your portfolio

If you’re already blogging on Tumblr or another blog site, you know that operating a blog is a great way to share your perspectives, inspire discussion and connect with like-minded individuals. The blog community is a network in itself, and making an impression online can open up great opportunities for employment.

What’s more, roles in journalism, marketing and communications often request writing samples or portfolios, and being able to point potential employers towards a well-maintained blog profile that showcases your best writing abilities reaps huge rewards. Writing your own blog can demonstrate your writing skills, your knowledge of a particular area and your enthusiasm to a wide audience. If you can establish yourself as an online authority in your field, you'll be a long way ahead of other online candidates.

While writers are selling themselves with blogs, designers and artists flock to Instagram to build a presence for themselves. The theory is the same — posting images of your work to instagram with a blurb that demonstrates an understanding of your topic serves as an online catalogue of your experience. It’s how now-pro photographer Chris Ozer found fame, and popular ‘grammers and influencers can even make an income with sponsored posts, too. And it goes both ways. Staying up to date with a company’s Instagram can offer invaluable insights into workplace culture, help you determine if you’ll be a good fit and even give you an edge in interviews.  

Maintaining a similar presence on YouTube has proven successful in many cases, too. Perhaps the most famous YouTube discovery is Justin Bieber (yes, that Justin Bieber), who from a young age posted videos of himself singing to the site. From hundreds of views to thousands, his presence achieved considerable buzz and, well, we know the story from there.

Then there’s the option of a video CV, and the question of should you, or shouldn't you?. Well, the video CV can be particularly relevant for customer service or PR roles, as well as a useful way for videographers, graphic designers and multimedia marketers to showcase their skills. That’s not saying your video CV should be all out Legen… —wait-for-it—dary! But if you have the confidence and digital skills to create a professional video CV, or presentation like this one from Prezi, it might just be the trick to set you apart from the rest.

Finally, remember to coordinate

Yes, one platform may be more appropriate than another when it comes to selling yourself online, but if you’re going to maintain a presence across all channels, coherency is key. You can also use schedulers like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to maintain a multi-platform presence. Be organised and disciplined, and curate these practices to effectively portray yourself online.

And remember, searching for yourself on Google and frequently reviewing privacy settings go hand in hand with showcasing your talents on your profiles to polish your social media accounts during a job search.

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