I have been asked to talk to our Careers Advisers about the use of social media, this got me thinking about our current offering and possible uses in the future.
For our current offering I’ll consider some examples of social media and how they are used from three perspectives:
- How I or a fellow careers professional could use the services personally
- How we are using the social media as a Careers Service
- What we are currently delivering to students
|Personal Learning Network||@uolsd account
September 2009. At the time of writing this it has 855 followers
|Student workshop delivered as part of Leicester Award and Enterprise “Using Social Media to assist your careers and enhance your personal brand“|
Follow Company pages
|Student Development Page
Active since September 2009
|Blogs||Personal reflection and sharing practice||Student Development Blog – Student Contributors||Used as student ePortfolios
Student Development Twitter account and Facebook page
Student Development have had the @uolsd account (855 followers) and the Facebook page (2180 likes) since September 2009. We use this is several ways:
Used to advertise and promote Student Development activities, these are from the RSS feeds from the News and Events on the Student Development website. The feed is sent to a service called twitterfeed which posts the items on twitter. The twitterfeed also adds #fb to each tweet, this updates the Facebook page using ‘Selective Twitter Updates‘.
We try and get student engagement by posting conversation starters or responding to question from are followers. Below is example conversation from Facebook
We achieve this by using Hootsuite this enable multiple user to inhabit one account using their own personal login. In Student Development the account is managed by @vicuol, the members of the helpdesk, who tend to be students and @martau.
From the @uolsd account we follow job sites and employer account and retweet any vacancies or career development opportunities they post on their accounts, this enable us to amplify this information to our student followers.
Using Twitter as a Careers Professional
One of the biggest challenges for careers professional is to source, manage and know about opportunities and developments within certain sectors Twitter can help with this. I call Twitter my Personal Learning Network by following people who share your professional interests. You tend to find people often share hyperlinks to recent developments and hot topics.
It also a really powerful way to get question answered or develop ideas, I often ask question to my followers and get very prompt responses. However will only ever get these types of responses if you engage in the environment and reply to questions yourself. Twitter is very much a ‘now’ network, with conversation happening in almost real time, it is quite hard to try and join a conversation even 24 hours after it occurred.
Here are some useful list of Careers professional currently using:
Using Facebook as a Careers Professional
Personally, Facebook is still very much considered the “Social” Network, where I follow and talk to friend, family and people in my close social circle. The diagram below shows how I manage these networks, keeping most of my professional contacts on Twitter and friends on Facebook, with a few overlaps in the middle, of people who belong in both.
Having said this there are a few thing potential uses a careers professionals should be aware of in Facebook. Firstly a number of large employers have presences within Facebook who it is worth following to keep up-to-date with opportunities that you can pass onto students.
Secondly it is worth been aware of the impact the Facebook can have of something Digital Footprint, especially student who may have images of parties and drunkenness on there. one of the most frequent question i get is “how do i protect myself?”. This involve having a good understanding of how the privacy settings work both outside and inside the social network, especially if we are advocating that students follow employers.
Thus far I have only discussed the use of Twitter and Facebook as Social Networks, this because I believe LinkedIn is very different type of Social Network, infact it is very ‘Professional’ Network due to the nature of the profile that you create, the connection you have and the types of updates you post.
- A LinkedIn profile is very much like a digital CV: containing a personal profile, work experiences and interests. Which in all honesty I suppose is there to promote yourself to potential collaborators or future employers.
- The connection tend to be more professional, linking-up with colleagues and fellow professional in your field
- I don’t tend to post updates to LinkedIn that regularly, it definitely doesn’t ‘now’ nature I described Twitter as having. The update posts tend to be more professional achievements; e.g. conference presentations or links to blog posts.
The professional nature and the vast amount of data that is contained within LinkedIn, like company profiles and job adverts, this makes it a very powerful careers tool. I will discuss some possible uses in the Future Developments section later.
Current Student Development use of LinkedIn
Due to the personalised nature of the profile you create on LinkedIn we haven’t created a profile on the service and as we are not really offering jobs directly with our service we haven’t created a Company Page, therefore our current presence is fairly low key. We have though created groups for employability programmes that students and an employers group, they are:
- TULIP Internship progamme
- Enterprise Inc
- University of Leicester Employers and Recruiters Forum – new as of Friday 24th July 2011. This group is designed as a method of engaging with employers to promote Student Development activities to them.
Student Delivery: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
Thus far we have only delivered advice to student on specific employability programmes. I deliver a talk called ‘Using Social Media to enhance your career and personal brand’. The three versions delivered are:
- Leicester Award face-to-face
- Leicester Award Flex programme – online version
- Enterprise – more focused on Personal Branding
I have discussed the content of these presentation in the previous posts linked above, but to give a quick summary.
Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
Giving synoptic summaries similar to those above, I empathise the role these Social Networks can play in developing commercial awareness, by reading posted links etc. Also going on to describe the role twitter can play in this in particular. The reason for this is unlike the other two Twitter doesn’t require reciprocal following, therefore you can follow CEOs of large companies. It is unlikely they will follow a student in return, but it will enable them to keep up-to-date.
Digital Footprint and Promoting yourself
In this part of the talk I show students how to discover their Digital Footprint and how to use privacy settings to maintain a positive presence. In the the promoting yourself section we discuss how accounts can be linked together and how they could include there social media presences in the email signatures.
This section is a very brief description of how RSS feeds and Google Reader can be used to subscribe to updates, to help commercial awareness.
The final part of the student talk is about how blogs can be used to develop a personal brand. As a Careers Professional keeping a blog can be a really powerful tool for reflecting upon your professional practice and disseminating you work. This is my blog, and as you can see i share practice and my work, I find it really helpful way of getting feedback and developing ideas.
Blogging as a Careers Service
We have recently set up the Student Development blog, this is a blog written by student volunteers who write and reflect on our service offerings and careers activities they have been involved in. The blog is manged by @vicuol, she talks about the development of it on her blog.
Student Delivery of Blogs
We have been using blogs a method of assessing student reflection on several of our Employability Programmes including TULIP, Leicester Award and enterprise. The platform we promote is Worpress and here is the supporting guide and presentation that is used to deliver this. We also get them thinking about using their blogs as ePortfolios, in which they record achievements and reflect upon their practice.
So that was a very brief summary of how Social Media can be used by Careers Professional, how we are currently using it as a Careers Service and what we are currently delivering to students, but there are still more we could consider doing.
For some further reading here is a great post from @pigironjoe on how a Careers Professional could use social media.
As I said previously our current usage of LinkedIn is limited, but there are huge potentials as using it as a careers advisory tool. Most companies have a good profile, with statistics about the company and also jobs boards within the network so it makes it a great way of helping students find and target potential employers. For example:
Imagine the scenario of a student who is going home to Brighton for the summer but wants to gain experience in multimedia. Using LinkedIn you can search by sector and location, this will give a range of employers and possible contact the student could approach.
Furthermore, LinkkedIn are developing new tools to support this, the Careers Explorer will enable users to plan a path and suggest contacts and companies they could follow and approach.
My tips to a Careers Adviser would be to join a number of sector specific groups, to try and gain contacts withing certain fields and also stay abreast of developments.
Another careers consultation approach could be LinkedIn profile advice. When I went to a conference I heard this quote from a graduate recruiter from Accenture:
In three to five years time I would expect not to be looking at CVs and doing most of my recruiting online using LinkedIn
If this is true should we be giving the same president to LinkedIn consultations/session as we do to CVs? Another alternative would create a number of exemplar profiles, that we could use with students. Here is an example of a Manchester Student @helenbuz created. When i spoke to Helen last we agreed in the East Midlands AGCAS group it may be worth several institutions creating profiles and Connecting them.
The final possibility is to create a UoL Careers Service Group within LinkedIn Group. I have discussed this already on a previous post about the employers group, however there is a risk if we let students join this there could be mixed messages. Therefore a separate group could be the solution, but would employers join both?
Rolling the using Social Media talk out as part of the central provision is an option and not just delivering on specialist programmes. However more practical session may be more useful. Here is talk delivered by @helenbuz that could be a more engaging approach.
Also webinar delivery, e.g. LinkedIn for beginners could be an option. however the focus of these tools should not be on the tools necessarily, but more the power of using social media as a method of networking and developing commercial awareness.
I’m sure new ideas will be developed and I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on either the current approaches or any new ideas.