The jobs market is getting increasingly tougher for graduates and professionals throughout the recession. Lucy Cheatham, Grad Central's Marketing Director, looks at the benefits and pitfalls of social media during the job-hunting process.
Recent national headlines have highlighted how tough the jobs market is right now for graduates. A survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters revealed that there are around 70 applications for every job vacancy, with the number of available positions predicted to fall by nearly seven per cent.
The class of 2011, along with graduates from recent years who have been rocked by the recession, will undoubtedly be feeling the strain when applying for a job. For those on the hunt for a suitable job, you'll be looking at every possible outlet to reach potential employers – signing up to specialist recruitment agencies, searching for relevant roles in the jobs section of newspapers and industry magazines, as well as sending out CVs and portfolios. All of which are being exhausted by every other graduate throughout the UK, making it even more of a challenge than ever to get your foot in the door.
However, graduates and professionals alike have been thrown a lifeline with the use of the Web to find a job. Admittedly, most individuals will already be using the Internet as part of their job-searching regime, with search engines such as Google to help them look for the most relevant and up-to-date vacancies online.
But at Grad Central, we believe there is real scope beyond this to sell yourself in a digital arena. In order to optimise your chances, the use of social media websites when on the hunt for a job will help to give you that ‘edge’ that most employers are looking for.
The World Wide Web means different things to different people, be it somewhere to shop, do business, listen to music, watch television or find out the latest news. But for most people, especially graduates and young professionals, social media and networking websites have affected the way we communicate with people.
Most graduates and young professionals fall into the web-savvy ‘Generation Y’ demographic and will find that using such social networking platforms as Twitter to communicate with people is second nature to them, especially when 45 per cent of all users are aged between 18 and 34 years old. Tweeting is an ideal way to boost your employment profile by speaking to like-minded creatives and get your viewpoints across, especially to those within the creative circuit who it will have an impact on. Taking part in regular online conversations and ensuring you hashtag keywords to broaden your discussion in the Twitter world will demonstrate that you are being proactive and eager to engage in the latest news and issues in the industry.
Twitter is also a great means of widening your search for job vacancies, with such tools as TwitJobSearch. Like Google, it allows you to type in a specific job role, as well as a location, and discover the latest opportunities available in your chosen area and tailored to your career requirements.
LinkedIn is well known as one of the more business-focused social media websites, allowing you to publicise your professional achievements and widen your networking database online. It enables you to build a professional profile stating your experience and skills, as well as the ability to connect with those from the creative industry. This could include previous clients who you may have produced work for, existing and potential employers and fellow graduates and professionals.
The beauty of your LinkedIn profile is the recommendations section. This is your chance to get the backing from those you have worked with and who will credit your work – in a similar way to references on a CV, but much more accessible. In addition, if you're in the creative sector you can upload your work and produce an online portfolio that businesses will be able to view and access whenever they want.
Online profile etiquette
We have talked how social media can work to your advantage, but Grad Central has discovered that many individuals are unaware of the common pitfalls on these websites that could potentially harm their professional reputation, both online and offline.
Facebook is one of the most popular social networking sites being used by over 5.5 million people in the UK alone. Nowadays, many employers are using this particular website to get an insight into candidates prior to the interview stage of recruitment. Dependent on your privacy settings, profile pictures and status updates, they are able to access all your information, good or bad.
We have heard horror stories about graduates and young professionals being turned down for their ideal job because of inappropriate language or content included on their Facebook profiles. We could argue that for most individuals, this website is something that isn’t for the eyes of a prospective employer. But you need to be aware that they will be able to access you information either from Facebook directly or via a Google search.
Be conscious of what is being said or posted on your profile and make this aware to your friends who could be tempted to post something inappropriate on your Facebook wall. If you feel that you may not be able to control this, then ensure you set the appropriate privacy settings so that any information being broadcast online is restricted.
Smile, you’re on camera!
The conventional methods, and even the more contemporary ways, of looking for a job and even having an interview are a thing of the past. The use of video online in the job-hunting process is another route for regular social media users to maximise their employability and promote themselves on a more personal level.
YouTube is now one of the key tools in the job-hunting process for web-savvy graduates, with a host of recruiters and businesses alike using the site as an additional means of reaching potential candidates. This gives graduates a great edge when it comes to searching for the ideal role as they will be able to discover more about the company and role itself, as well as view further job opportunities.
In addition, Grad Central has seen a rise in graduates using one of its innovative online tools called the Talking CV. Designed to give graduates an edge when applying for job vacancies, individuals can record a short structured interview explaining their key skills, experience and career prospects. It can then uploaded online for free to Grad Central’s database for prospective employers to view alongside your application.
We have already seen a great success rate from those using Talking CV
, it gives individuals an extra opportunity to show your true flare and express your personality and style.
The accessibility and scope of the Internet has given job-hunting a whole new meaning, with a range of tools and websites on offer to help in the process. You are able to get your name out there and maintain your professional reputation, search for suitable jobs and research employers related to your background and experience. For creatives, it allows your true personality to shine compared to what is written on a piece of paper, which will undoubtedly help to impress future employers.
So get online and enjoy getting connected.