Were our universities right – ‘social media is a modern obstruction to gainful employment’?

27 December 2012 By Northern Lights

Were our universities right – ‘social media is a modern obstruction to gainful employment’? image

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.

It wasn’t.


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.

6.  The internet does not forget your past

From Student to Salary has been one of the most useful readings I have encountered during my job hunt providing action-tips to organise your online story and reputation. It is important to remember that the Internet will unearth banter-ridden photo comments from 2008 as well as 2012.

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Written by Northern Lights


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