18 September 2012 By Northern Lights
As bright students start at university this week – will they start using social media professionally to help them get a job in three years’ time?
Lisa Bachelor at the Guardian points out the importance of ‘soft skills’ or ‘employability skills’ which she says are becoming increasingly important to graduate recruiters: “While hard skills refer to things such as academic qualifications, soft skills include communication ability, teamworking, time management, problem solving and attitude to work.”
We believe that social media skills will help students to get a job – but they will also demonstrate these important ‘employability skills’.
It may seem early to be planning your career exit when you have only just started, but as Theron Mohamed shows with the stories of graduates Olga and Samuel, thinking ahead will get you ahead.
Here are our recommendations as to the skills students should be acquiring year by year at university or college. Follow these and we reckon you will double your chances of success at the end.
1. Employability skills in year one of university
Year one is the time to progress from Facebook. The way you use social media to get a job is miles away from chatting to your friends 24/7 on Facebook. You need to understand and learn about this new world.
First, read our ebook, From Student to Salary with Social Media – yes this is a plug but it is only 99p! Why should you read it – well have a look at our video
This ebook will get you started and give you a feel for the opportunities – and risks – of social media.
Then become familiar with these media. Open a Twitter account and start following 100 people who are specialists in your subject and/or career area. These could be university lecturers, employers, journalists and government ministers.
Find 10 really good blogs around your areas of interest and start reading them. Over the next six months make yourself leave two intelligent comments (tips on how to do this in our ebook) on one or more of the blogs.
By the end of the year you should be familiar with the professional side of Twitter and blogs and hopefully will have started leaving a few comments and maybe posting about interesting tips or articles.
2. Start building contacts with employers in year two of university
By year two you should have a good grasp about engaging in a professional way through social media.
Now is the time to create a Linkedin profile and make sure it is 100% complete. Start connecting to people who can help you in your career. Contacts you make on work placement, your parents and their friends; uncles, aunts and godparents; and your university lecturers. While the quality of your network is really important – don’t link to people you don’t know – it will help if you have quantity as well. 100 is a good target to get you going.
Learn how to network – there are tips in our blog, Ten easy ways to use LinkedIn for Networking – and stay in touch with your contacts. They need to remember you are there when looking for their next recruit or have a placement.
Start building your professional profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn – and Facebook. Start tweeting about interesting articles you have seen, share insights from your course.
3. Year 3 at university is time to become serious on social media
This is your last year. You need to position yourself to win that job.
Update your LinkedIn profile eg ‘third year student in xyz, looking to become a chartered accountant’. Think about the keywords that employers might search for you on (again, all this is covered in our ebook.
Clean up your act. Have you set privacy settings? Do your photos look professional? If an employer searched for you on Google would they like what they see?
Research the employers you want to work for – are they on Twitter and blogging? Start following and engaging with them. If they ask for views or for retweets (RT), help them. This will all get you noticed and make you stand out.
Use LinkedIn actively. Use advanced search to see who you know who works in or has connections to the companies you want to work in. Ask them if they would introduce you and give you advice on how to apply for jobs or what they look for in a CV.
Have we focused on the right skills here? Should students start doing any of these activities sooner – or later? Or do you think social media is irrelevant for getting a job?