There used to be a time when graduates were able to leave university and waltz straight into their dream jobs, but things have changed. With the current job market and economy as it is, students have to be more innovative with their approach in order to stand out from the crowd. Social media was once a grey area for employers, filled with red tape and very few dos and plenty of don’ts. Things have changed, and employers have realised just how powerful social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be at reaching out to future recruits.

3_applying_for_jobsWith an increasing number of employers using social media to advertise jobs and building their online brand, it’s inevitable that more and more young people are hitting the likes of LinkedIn to search for jobs, and so they should. There are multiple benefits to using social media for job searches, and this week’s blog post will focus on LinkedIn.

In 2013 LinkedIn lowered their sign-up age to 13 as a way of encouraging more students to engage with employers, academic institutions and professionals. This in my eyes was an excellent move – LinkedIn is a great business equivalent to Facebook, which allows students to keep in touch with peers, build business contacts and join relevant groups. If you are a job seeker and you haven’t got a LinkedIn profile by now, you are definitely living in the dark ages, and most probably significantly reducing your chances of securing a job!

A LinkedIn profile effectively allows users to create a live CV which showcases their educational background, work experience, awards, voluntary work and more. It also allows contacts to write recommendations and endorse key skills, which look highly impressive when potential employers are looking at your profile. Yes, that’s right, employers are increasingly using LinkedIn to research for candidates and head-hunt talented individuals. This is why it’s so important to have a great looking profile and to actively use LinkedIn to seek out job opportunities. Here are my suggestions for how to become a LinkedIn pro:

  1. Create an engaging and up-to-date profile. As mentioned before, recruiters are always on the hunt for new talent on LinkedIn so having a current profile is essential.
  2. Ask people to recommend you. You can’t expect people to believe how incredible you are, so ask people to recommend and endorse you. Write a short but bespoke message when requesting recommendations from previous employers and colleagues – generic requests are often ignored!
  3. Join relevant groups. You want people to view your LinkedIn profile (for the right reasons, of course) and joining recruitment and employer groups, and contributing to discussion boards generates the right type of interest.
  4. Make relevant connections. As you start to engage on LinkedIn, you should look at connecting with those people who you have met or have worked with before. Again, take a few minutes to write a personalised message when requesting a connection.
  5. Jobs boards. LinkedIn has a jobs board where you can search for current vacancies. Employers usually post vacancies on LinkedIn as they hope that savvy jobseekers like you will come across them. Make a point to check these daily.

Social media is rapidly becoming one of the main ways in which employers are recruiting. Students and job hunters need to adapt their methods to match what is happening in the recruitment world to ensure they don’t get left lagging behind without a job.

15_writing_your_cv_typewriterAlthough I am a huge fan of concepts like LinkedIn, it can be easy to forget how incredibly important it is to have face-to-face conversations and to network. If you’re looking for some advice on this, check out my post on the Art of Networking. Networking is a powerful tool and with nearly 50% of people saying that they got their job through personal connections and networking, it’s a tough stat to ignore. Social media should never replace conversations, and attending open events, insight days and talking to professionals is just as important as connecting with someone on LinkedIn, if not more. Rather than looking at LinkedIn as a replacement, I like to think of it as a chance to build connections. If you had a great conversation with someone, add them on LinkedIn and follow-up with a message asking for advice or suggest meeting up for a coffee. If you have been engaging with someone on LinkedIn and feel it would be useful to meet in person, send them in message and ask if they would mind sharing some tips over lunch.

These are just some of my suggestions, but I am sure that you’ll come up with plenty more of your own. This is one of three blog posts where we will be focusing on social media and how if carefully used, it can significantly help students to find a job, build their network and start a very promising career. Next week, we’ll be looking at Facebook and Twitter.