So I’ll bet my last pound most of you regularly use Facebook, Twitter and/or other social networking sites to communicate with friends, share pictures and news about events. But have you thought about how social networking sites might help with your career? Today’s blog is all about giving you a few insights into what social media might mean for your career…
Here’s a truism: whatever you do in life, you’ll probably need to network. You’re unlikely to be able to manage without it in graduate-level employment. It’s a vital skill for being successful in working with other people, whether colleagues, peers or customers – or all three – so that’ll be most jobs, then! However, it can also be a crucial skill when you’re busy searching for work, or placements and work experience generally.
At Queen’s we’re busy meeting people all the time, mostly those who study similar subjects and who may well go on to work in relevant fields. Social networking sites can be helpful in seeing how their career evolves and might thus throw open possibilities for you to network or get help in finding suitable jobs or work experience. Don’t forget you are also meeting others, such as employers and work experience providers at careers fairs, presentations etc or even those you meet when doing internships or part-time jobs, and these can also become part of your network and support your career later on.
It’s also worth incorporating social networks into your career research and jobsearching.. Many businesses have their own Twitter account and a dedicated page on Facebook through which they communicate vacancies or information and possibilities about graduate schemes. You might also get a lot of useful information by joining interest groups or taking part in online chats related to your field.
If you’re currently only using private social networking sites, try looking for some that are specifically directed at professional networking, such as LinkedIn, which can be really helpful in maintaining networks with people you were at uni with, as well as others; also for checking out people working in areas you are interested in. And of course, don’t forget the Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills Service has its own page on Twitter and Facebook, which gives you a good place to start and an easy way to keep up to date with careers events and activities.
And now the obligatory warning, which I’m sure you’ve all heard before: employers can use Facebook too – so you might want to think twice before making all those embarrassing drinking pictures publically accessible!Now, of course you might think you have the right to do whatever you want with your free time, and really why should your future employer care? Well, maybe…but is it worth the risk? Employers can and do use the Internet to research candidates – maybe now’s a good time to Google yourself and see what comes up.
In general it’s worth thinking about this aspect, as well as all the positive benefits of social media for developing your career. After all, most social networking sites give you a lot of control about what information should be accessible to others and I would definitely encourage you to explore these possibilities and make a conscious decision on whether or not your social networking accounts should appear on Google, how to separate private and professional contacts, whether (and which!!) pictures should be visible and to who, whether to make your comments accessible, or your private information (on hobbies, relationships…) A lot of sites will also give you the possibility to post the sort of information you might find on a CV, which is worth thinking about.
Right, well, I don’t know about you, but I’m off to create myself a LinkedIn profile – hope this gave you something to think about, and I’ll look forward to you joining me again next week!