Using social media (or not?) in your career

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One thing the Careers Service has been learning a lot about lately is social media – your digital footprint is becoming increasingly important to your career development it seems. I’m sure that you have all hear about prospective employers googling shortlisted candidates (and sometimes changing the shortlist based on what they’ve found), so it’s always worth checking your online profile to see what pops up.

I’m pretty sure that it goes without saying that you need to check what your Facebook and twitter feeds say about you and adjust your privacy settings accordingly. We’re not yet in the situation that some American jobseekers are in, where employers are asking for login details to their Facebook pages – let’s hope that it’s one trend that doesn’t make it across the Atlantic!

But just how savvy are you when it comes to social media? Lots of us now have LinkedIn profiles (6 million UK users and counting), but are you making the most of the resource? According to one survey, 80% of employers use LinkedIn as part of their recruitment process (Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey), but that was conducted in 2010 and surely numbers can only have risen since then. And it’s not just employers making use of social media  – we’ve recently seen job-hunters using creative digital CVs instead of the traditional format (what do you think of these CVs on Pinterest?), as well making speculative applications via twitter, amongst other things.

However, social media shouldn’t just be seen as a tool for recruitment or finding a job; it’s also a great way to research careers and organisations before you apply (as well as being a handy networking tool). We attended a presentation recently where the speaker also highlighted the benefits of social media for:

  • Exploring job roles e.g. what job titles are there in an organisation? What kinds of organisations do people with that job title work for?
  • Researching career trajectories: you can use tools like LinkedIn and the Careers Service’s own Graduate Connections resource to see how people’s careers have developed
  • Finding organisations: joining groups on LinkedIn is a great way to see who’s who in your sector
  • Identifying contacts both in the UK and overseas

(Thanks to Helen Buzdugan from the University of Manchester for her AGCAS webinar!).

It seems pretty easy, right? And yet I read a scienceomega article recently which suggested that researchers, in particular, fail to capitalise on the benefits that social media can bring to their careers. Recruiters used to feel that they were failing to talk the language of a techno-savvy Generation Y and have been using social media to keep up, but is Gen Y now starting to fall behind the recruiters by barely making it past Facebook?

I’ve certainly found twitter useful for hearing about jobs and career development opportunities like science writing competitions, and enjoy having easy access to what can seem like monolithic institutions like the NHS; and as a shy person I quite like using tools like LinkedIn, blogs, and the Guardian Careers webchats for networking with people, but I’m not sure that I like the use of Facebook for job/careers stuff as, for me, it’s very much a social (rather than a work) space. But then I see the Civil Service Fast Stream’s FB page, which is really useful, and think that I should make more use of it in spite of my reservations.

What do you think? How do you use social media and the web to aid your career development? Do you think you need more support to help you get the most out of it (or are you the techno-savvy Gen Y-er that all the recruiters have been hearing about)?



One thought on “Using social media (or not?) in your career

    […] ago about some research showing that researchers aren’t much for using social media (“using social media in your career“). It can be very confusing to navigate, and it’s always hard to tell what kind of […]


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