April 11, 2014, by Beth Dawson
Using virtual connections for real-world success
Social media is rapidly becoming an established part of the recruitment process, over half the recruiters in the UK use social media in their recruitment processes and the most popular site used by employers is LinkedIn, with 31% using this website*. We explore this social networking site and how you can use it to impress employers and make meaningful connections.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter where you socialise online with your friends, LinkedIn is designed as a professional networking tool where you can connect with individuals, groups and companies. More than 175 million professionals worldwide have created a personal profile that showcases their experience, knowledge and skills, which they then use to contact others.
With more than 31 million companies on LinkedIn you can:
- establish connections with individuals who have roles you’re interested in
- join groups to understand the issues affecting the sector or industry that you want to work in
- research companies or organisations to find out what it’s like to work for them
- find job vacancies
To get started on LinkedIn you will need to set up a profile. Make sure you:
- add a professional looking picture. Individuals with a profile picture have up to seven times more responses than those who don’t
- create a catchy headline that describes who you are, your skills and ambitions. Try to include keywords, such as ‘writer’, ‘technician’ or ‘science’ that a recruiter may use in their searches
- make your profile public; you want as many potential employers and contacts as possible to see what you can offer
- add your skills and seek endorsements from lecturers or managers from work experience placements
- include your work history and add links to any projects you have been involved with as this will give your portfolio a multimedia element that can bring your achievements to life
One you’ve built your profile you can connect with others, expanding your network of professional contacts. Your LinkedIn network might include:
- students and lecturers
- graduate recruiters you’ve met at careers events
- managers or colleagues from your internships, volunteering, part-time or vacation jobs
- professionals working in your desired industry, company or role
When adding new contacts, make sure you give them a reason to connect with you – write a personal message to demonstrate your enthusiasm and intentions. If you’ve never met the person you want to connect with, you will need to use the same tone as you would in a covering letter.
If you build positive relationships with your contacts, they might share job opportunities with you. Remember to thank people who have helped you and reciprocate when you can, as networking goes both ways.
Groups such as the University’s alumni group and Social Media Marketing group are made up of professionals with common interests and by joining a group you can gain insider perspectives. The extent to which you interact with a group is up to you: you can follow discussions or ask questions directly.
Employers are impressed if you have an understanding of their sector and knowledge of the latest developments, challenges or opportunities they face. This is called commercial awareness and by following a company you can gain insights into:
- their latest news
- their products and services
- career paths and perspectives of employees
- company and industry developments
If you want to find out more about using social media in your job hunting, visit our online networking page where you can watch videos about getting started and making the most of LinkedIn. If you want to get started on LinkedIn, why not follow the University’s page?
*Statistics taken from a report publish by AGCAS (2013).