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Social media for job search, making contacts and building your brand

Social media is a free, fast and dynamic way for employers to communicate key messages to large audiences, so it is the obvious medium for them to communicate any recruitment opportunities. If there is an organisation you would be interested in working for, it pays to follow them on Facebook, X (Twitter) or Instagram.

LinkedIn enables you to go a little deeper and can be a great tool for making contacts with recruiters and professionals, conveying a professional image and gathering intelligence about how to get into a particular role.

Social media is a two way process, you are putting information about yourself in a public place, likewise others are sharing information with you.

  • You can follow organisations and look for job alterts.
  • Keep up to date on company news and products. If they are expanding maybe they will need more staff?
  • You can create your own content Youtube, Instagram, Twitter and draw in followers. Its like an online portfolio.
  • Even a basic profile says something about you. What are you saying who are you following

What is a Personal Brand and why is it important?

The phrase ‘Brand’ is often used describe a product or company but it can also apply to individuals. It refers to establishing and promoting what makes you unique and marketable; the skills, values, and experiences that differentiate you from others. It’s about creating the right impression. Recruiters often respond to a strong, positive personal brand online so be wary of any online presence that deters from the professional image you want to convey.

Be careful how you present yourself on social networking sites, as well as with comments you post on forums etc. Many employers "check out" job applicants and could find information about you that you would rather they didn't know. Check your privacy settings carefully!

Having a blog/vlog or posting videos to Youtube can all increase your visibility, and done well can contribute to a body of evidence or portfolio for some career areas such as media and marketing. Just be aware of who can see these and any other content that may be on your channel. Is it appropriate for a future employer to see?

What won’t impress potential employers:

  • Poor grammar and spelling (think of your public social media profiles as an extension of your CV)
  • Inappropriate photos
  • Information about drinking and drug use
  • Lying about qualifications or experience
  • Unprofessional screen names (e.g. sexyvicky)
  • Racist, sexist or offensive comments.

What will impress potential employers:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Professional image portrayed
  • Good fit for company’s culture
  • Wide range of interests
  • Positive recommendations, achievements, qualifications, experience, awards etc.

To ensure you maintain a professional online profile:

  • Keep your personal and professional social networking profiles separate, and make sure you set your privacy settings to the maximum on any profiles you want to maintain for purely social purposes (e.g. Facebook).
  • Do a regular Google search on your name (while logged out of your social networking accounts) and look at the search results through the eyes of a potential recruiter. Clean up any “digital dirt” that you find. Remember that other people can sometimes add you to groups or post photos of you on social networking sites (particularly Facebook) without your consent or even knowledge.

For more information on cyber security and privacy online, watch the University’s cybersecurity video or sign up for our 15 minute Blackboard course to avoid becoming a victim of phishers:

Using X (Twitter) for job hunting

It is frequently used by employers to advertise internships and jobs, promote events and competitions, and communicate with potential job applicants. For some sectors, eg media and marketing, employers will often expect you to have an active X profile. Some jobs and work experience opportunities may only be advertised via Twitter, so if you are not using it, you can miss valuable opportunities.

Network to create your own opportunities

Because Twitter is an open social network, you can use it to make new contacts with professionals in your chosen industry, which may open the door to work experience and jobs. Many students have had success using Twitter in this way.

  • Find and follow professionals and organisations in your chosen career sector. Observe them and see what sorts of things they tweet about.
  • Re-tweet interesting things and comment on the industry news. Try to sound like a "professional in development" in your tweets and you will gradually start to "get on the radar" of professionals in the sector.
  • Gradually join in conversations with the professionals and organisations you're following, pose relevant questions and add your thoughts. You could throw in a tweet along the lines of: "Interesting blog on the outlook for publishing sector, thanks! Do you envisage your org. will be needing grads with social media skills?" to try to steer the conversation towards job opportunities.
  • If you have a LinkedIn profile or a (professional-ish) blog, link to that from your Twitter profile so that recruiters can "check you out" and get a more rounded view of you as a person and future professional. If your blog is relevant to your chosen career sector, you can feed your blog posts onto Twitter.
  • This Twitter privacy and safety page allows you to protect your tweets but also allows you to turn off your location, prevent people from tagging you in photos and manage other aspects of your privacy and safety. Twitter also allows you to restrict specific accounts from contacting you or seeing your tweets. Here is Twitter’s page explaining How to block accounts on twitter.

Using Instagram for jobhunting

  1. Decide on what your personal brand looks like. Who do you want to look at your posts and why?
  2. Set up a new account (keep your personal selfies and posts separate)
  3. Follow relevant accounts, influencers in the field you are interested in, and any brands or companies that are relevant.
  4. Use hashtags carefully to increase the reach of your posts.
  5. Search for popular hashtags in the field you are interested in. Find out which have the best reach for the purpose you are using Instagram for.