AGCAS Social Media Event

Today I attended an AGCAS Social Media event at the University of the Arts London. AGCAS is the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services. I went along not necessarily expecting to learn a great deal technically or about the culture and etiquette of Social Media and networks, but really wanting to develop a deeper understanding how employers engage in such environments, how they expect students to use of Social Media and how they perceive student usage. Furthermore, and quite honestly, I went along for a bit of plagiarism. Next week I’m delivering a workshop as part of the Leicester Award Flux programme. Although I have a pretty good idea what I’m going to discuss, opportunities like this event are great opportunities to pick up more ideas.

The day was made up of three sessions, each of which was as equally interesting in their own right.  The session were:

Digital Footprint – supporting students to use social media

This was delivered by Judith Baines (careers adviser) and Matt Lingard (Learning Technologist) from the London School of Economics. They discussed the workshops and support packages they have put in place at LSE to support student manage and develop their digital footprint and online identity. They are delivering a series of workshops from the Careers Service, there are three key workshops:

Digital Footprint: Using Internet to enhance your career prospects

In this session they set the context using the LinkedIn – whats all the fuss about video from this www.abintegro.com video set. They then go on to discuss why it is important to engage with social media, exploring that it enables students to research employers, enable creative job searching and enable employers to find them if they promote themselves appropriately. This is underlined with examples of employers like KPMG who have a presence on Facebook, twitter and youtube.

The session goes on to cover:

  • Keeping in touch‘ using Google Reader, Google Alerts, technorati and intute.
  • Protecting yourself‘ making sure accounts are privatised appropriately.
  • Joining up your profile‘ how to link accounts together, a practice I don’t necessarily agree with. But I do agree with the inclusion of Social Media on email signature and CV, which is advised in the session.
  • Netiquette‘ behaving appropriately and understand the methods of the network.

Hands on session

In this session they support PG students set up the Social Media presence, this sound very similar to some of the practice been carried out in the Graduate School Media Zoo at Leicester.

LinkedIn Webinar

This sounded like a really interested concept, during which they introduce their student to LinkedIn and demonstrate how to get the most of the network by demoing it live online. They gained some tips on delivering this session from the LinkedIn Learning Centre and by joining one of LinkedIn’s regularly run webinars.

Judith and Matt concluded their session by discussion some of their future plans at LSE. The most of interesting of which was a LinkedIn Surgery, like a CV consultation but a careers adviser giving a student one-to-one guidance on how to improve their LinkedIn profile.

This was a really interesting session, see the slides below. What this session really got me thinking about is how/what equivalent offering could we be offering at Leicester.

Matt also provided some useful links related to the session on a diigo.com list. As a side note, I’m a fairly new convertee to diigo after the recent delicious shut down scare and I’m becoming more impressed by it all the time. I like how this list has been neatly presented with section headings, unlike on delicious where you can share a tag list and the bookmarks are presented in the order in which you posted them.

I enjoyed talking to Matt Lingard after the session and discover how small the learning technology community can be, discovering he is a good friend of my colleagues Alan Cann and Jo Badge.

Practical session: Using LinkedIN and Twitter

This session was lead by Helen Buzdugan , Manchester University Careers Service. It was a really nicely design practical session looking at LinkedIn and Twitter.

Helen started the session by highlighting some of the benefits Careers advisers can get out of engaging with social media, like shared expertise and networking. Quite funnily she highlighted my former colleague Tristam Hooley as an expert to to follow. Not necessarily an opinion he shared when I informed him via twitter.

pigironjoe tweetAt the beginning of the practical session she asked us to declare our level of expertise with social media, I said I was a “Guru”, which may have been a bit arrogant considering my experience with LinkedIn is quite limited.

As I said this was a really well designed session because as Helen was guiding us through the services she had designed some Careers related scenarios. Here are her notes from the session:

LinkedIn

This was by first in-depth look at Linkedin, I previously never really got it. I know it is promoted as a “Professional Social Network”, what I didn’t understand was the social side. I knew that you make connections but unlike Twitter and Facebook, I couldn’t see how you engage with your connections.

It turns out it is all about the professionalism and the connections that you make are for professional and career purposes, to enable networking in the traditional sense. Therefore you don’t post the everyday observations as you would on twitter, you post your professional achievements and activities.

Helen discussed the importance of your LinkedIn profile. The profiles are quite comprehensive and include not only the basic information about you, but also Employment History, Education and also receive Recommendations from form selected connections. However the key part to a LinkedIn profile are keywords or Specialties as this often assist in making people trying to find you though similar expertise.

You can also synchronise other services with your account like SlideShare and Google presentations. If I was to have one criticism of the service it would be good to synchronise a wider range of services with your account, most basically an RSS feed.

As the session progressed and we worked our way through the scenarios written by Helen, this is when I really came to realise the potential for a Careers Service. Many corporates and employers have profiles on Linkedin which when viewed you can see detailed profiles about them including in-depth statistics about their workforce. The example below shows the demographic of the work force of the University of Leicester.

University of Leicester Stats from LinkedIn
University of Leicester Stats from LinkedIn

This statistics are based on the profiles of the employees that are on LinkedIn so they are not completely accurate, but give a general idea.

Furthermore the Advanced search facilities within LinkedIn make the browsing of the companies and people very tailorable to your needs. Searches available by sector and location are available on a basic account. More detailed searches available with pro accounts.

The only limitation with these searches is people names are often hidden or displayed a private. Helen’s tip was this can be avoided by joining interest Groups in LinkedIn and if people you find are also members of that Group you can see more details.

Considering these features the potentials for careers adviser services is obvious. For example if a student came to a consultation and asked about careers and opportunities in a certain industry, with a quick LinkedIn search you could show them some companies and also possible introduce them to some people who work in the sector. My main consideration about this type of practice is how do you manage this as a Careers Advisory service? Do you ask Careers Advisers to create accounts to use in consultations. This may be considered unfair asking them to use personal account for professional purposes.

The other alternative is to create some form of service presence, however I’m not sure how this can be done on LinkedIn. A service would want a personal profile, as it doesn’t have an employment history etc. Neither would an advisory service want to put itself on as a company, as they’re not looking to recruit or there is really no need to have the employee profile attached to it. I’d be interested to see how other Careers services are managing this, the scenarios and the practice Helen described suggest she was advocating Careers Adviser personal profiles.

Twitter

This was the session in which my self declared “Guru” status came through. In the session Helen described the practice of twitter and #tagging. I think I really helped at this point, as I had been tweeting through out the day using the #asml11 tag and talking to others who were not at the event it really demonstrated the power of #tags. During the practical I floated around and assisted, hope Helen didn’t mind to much.

As I said this was a really good session, especially the LinkedIn part. Here are some useful resources from Helen.

Student/Employer Perspective on using social media for opportunities

The final session of the day was an open forum discuss with a panel of employer and student who engage with social media. The panel was made up of:

  • Tim Mitchell, Timothy Creative Talent Consultancy
  • Quezia Soares, Marketing & Communications, Accenture
  • Claire Strickland, Theatrical Milliner
  • Reem Kanj , Founder/Editor-In-Chief, Five Five Fabulous
    Co-Founder/Designer, House of Rena

The discussion were interesting and focused around a number of topics regarding digital identity and potentials of social networking. Some of the more interesting points were raised by Reem Kanj a former fashion student at the University of the Arts London, who is now a “Professional” Blogger on her site fivefivefabulous.com who said she formed her reputation and following using the media, as a result manages to make a reasonable living writing about fashion on her blog. Rachel Clarke asked me on twitter why I put the Professional in speech marks, this is because I believe if you are getting paid to blog by someone and still be expressing your own opinions, the professionalism either makes you a journalist or a marketing copywriter.

Nevertheless Reem Kanj positivity about the media was brilliant and her closing comment to higher education was not only for them to engage in it more, but encourage more students to engage. Obviously not all can expect to make a living from it, but it teaches them about marketing and self expression.

The other fascinating member of the panel was Quezia Soares, Marketing & Communications at Accenture. She spoke about Social Media from a employer perspective, she discussed how Accenture engaged with Social media, having a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn presences, via which they engage with potential employees. Her points about Facebook were interesting, she said the majority of the time the company don’t have to interact that regularly as the following members of the Fan Page self moderate discussions. Her other interesting statement she made about Facebook was they don’t actually look at the profiles of the people who follow the Fan Page.

Finally her most interesting discussion point were about LinkedIn, she said Accenture do a lot of recruitment using the network now, she went on to say they would expect most people they recruit to have actively engaged in the environment. To finish and probably most fascinating statement she made, although she said don’t quote me on it was:

“In three to five years time she would expect not to be looking at CVs and online recruiting using LinkedIn”

She contextualised this by saying that the network is much bigger in America and expects it to get more popular here in the near future. I think this is true, as over the last couple of month I have seen a rapid increase in the number of people inviting me to Connect with them. However to say it will “replace the CV” is quite a statement.

Final Thoughts on the Day

The day was fascinating although there were some thing I felt were a little neglected and bypassed:

  1. I felt Facebook kept getting brushed aside as a non professional network and is only used for social purposes, if this is the case why were employers so keen to have presences there?
  2. Digital identity, the phrase “if you wouldn’t want your mum to see it don’t have it online” was banded around a lot. I felt this negated sum of the deeper issue of:
    • how do students ensure their account privacy is set correctly?
    • Also I would of liked to hear how employers manage this. I’ve heard the during application and interview stages of job application they do internet background checks. I would like to of heard what the employers make of what they see on the networks and what they consider a non-appointable offense. I was discussing this with my cousin and she said “ok I used to go out at university dressed up in funny outfits, get drunk and habe fun. I don’t do it anymore, therefore if an employer didn’t want to appoint me for that I’m not sure I want to work for them”. Seems like a valid point.

My final reflection of the day, not related to Social Media. During Helen Buzdugan’s practical session we used the University of the Arts London
networked computers, I have to say how impressed I was with their institutional homepage. It was really creative and clean.

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