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Four ways students can use social media to further their career

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Let’s face it, social media is part and parcel of our millennial lifestyle. It is now common practice for employers to include a ‘LinkedIn’ field on application forms. And yes, if you are wondering, one of the first steps to assessing an applicant is indeed a quick Google to check out their Facebook and Twitter profiles.

In the dog-eat-dog world of graduate employment, it is essential to present yourself in the best way possible. Naturally, this includes your online presence. Here are a few key dos and don’ts for the best way to utilise social media to your advantage.

Clean up your Facebook

A classic, but absolutely crucial tip. Go through all of your photos and either set personal albums to ‘private’ or de-tag or delete them forever. Look through your Facebook statuses and delete any inappropriate, grammatically incorrect or highly personal material. Once that is done there are two things you can do; you could either lock it up fortress-style and remove yourself from Facebook search results so employers can never find you. Take this as the ‘beginner-level’ Facebook makeover.

The alternative option, or ‘advanced-level’ is to treat your Facebook profile as a reflection of your public self. Enable ‘followers’ rather than ‘friends’ and share selected snapshots of your life that you feel represents a positive image. Curate selected links, articles and videos and share them on your profile as well. For example, if you’re interested in the music industry, you can show potential employers that you have your finger on the pulse by sharing current news and opinion articles. Create a personality on Facebook that you would personally hire, and you will be on the right track.

Connect with Twitter

Use a similar approach to Twitter as you would your Facebook profile; either disappear off the map and set your account to private, or ‘level-up’. Mold your own distinct Twitter personality! Here are a few tips to help you realise your full Twitter potential:

  1. Your Twitter bio is 140 characters – make all of them count. How you do so is entirely up to you, but a general layout of your current position, your previous or current education and two or three of your interests is a safe bet. If you’re going with a witty quote, my advice to you is not to use “my apartment smells like rich mahogany”. Unfortunately, there are thousands of young adults who also consider Anchorman their favourite film, so your “unique and funny” description might not actually be so.
  2. Follow company profiles, influential people and news sources that interest you, and then connect with them. Re-tweet interesting tweets, share links and @reply them. You would be surprised at how mighty 140 characters can be when they are directed to the right person.
  3. Use the ‘Discover’ function to search for opportunities. Search within your relevant field hashtag, or use the ‘Suggested Followers’ function to explore more Twitter profiles in your chosen field of interest.
  4. Hashtags are your friend, but only when used efficiently. #thisisnotanefficienthashtag. Keep them short and relevant, and try to use one-word hashtags whenever possible. Also, do not tweet entirely in hashtags either. You definitely do not need to hashtag the word #the for example.

Become an authority in your field

Impress your employers by keeping a blog, Tumblr or Pinterest board. Whether you are looking for a career in engineering or fashion design, it would not only show an active and genuine interest in your future career, but it is a good way of keeping track of your own evolving thoughts. Long-form blogs are great to display articulate and systematic research and opinions, and pin-boards such as Pinterest act as a visual mind-map of your interests.

Mix it up by including original posts and re-pinning, re-blogging and re-tweeting other influential posts as well. This shows a willingness to grow and learn, as well as a creative streak that employers would certainly be interested in.

LinkedIn is more than an online CV

To many undergraduate students, a LinkedIn profile is the final stepping-stone to adulthood. Creating an account is the first thing to check off the employment to-do list. However, a LinkedIn profile will be of no use if it is just a stagnant résumé. Employers do not need to look at your CV for a second time.

Instead, use your LinkedIn as a mega-version of your CV. When you send CVs to potential employers they need to be succinct and tailored towards the specific position. On the other hand your LinkedIn can act as an aggregator of your achievements, so fire away and fill in as many fields as you can. Try not to write in paragraphs though, bullet points are visually cleaner and easier to digest.

Also, chase up your former employers, colleagues and peers to give you LinkedIn recommendations. One good turn deserves another so it is good practice to prompt them with a recommendation written by you. After all, testimonials by others are a great way of showing the world that people genuinely think you are a person worth investing in.

Bonus: Connect the dots! Put your social networks on your LinkedIn, automatically send your tweets to your Facebook and your Tumblr posts to your Twitter. If you are feeling particularly brave, put your LinkedIn profile on your CV. The rest should (hopefully) fall into place.

Do you have any more tips for using social media to further your career? Let us know in the comments!

Photo: mkhmarketing / Flickr

Currently a Marketing Executive at The Beans Group. Third culture kid, expert instant ramen chef, social media-addicted young person on the cusp of what they call ‘adulthood’. Passionate about entertainment, my job and the occasional masochistic 5k run.
Brenda WongFour ways students can use social media to further their career

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