Graduate advice – How to get a job you actually want!

11 February 2016

This is a series of blog pieces offering advice for those who are soon to graduate, walking through the steps you can take to help you land the job you want, not just the job you can get. First we are starting off with the digital side of your life.

Step 1 - Social media and online presence

You want your online presence to help get you a job. This means you need to create a persona online which will portray the right image to any prospective employer (which is true for anyone of any industry). This doesn’t mean that you have to un-tag yourself from Fresher’s week photos, but it does mean be sensible and make sure your privacy settings are set so that only your friends can view your less sober moments (Be careful who you’re friends with too!). We are generation Facebook, so most people should be pretty good at this anyway, but it won’t hurt to check what kind of impression you give to people looking for you online. If you want a reminder of how we perceive people online, try logging back into your Myspace and see what you make of yourself 10 years ago…

Be found! Increasingly it is not about finding the right job but making sure the right people find you and Social media is a great tool to use to help facilitate this. There are thousands of people around the world who spend their time trying to find talented graduates for seriously cool jobs. However, if the only trace of you online is a tweet from 2012 and a LinkedIn which is half filled out, you are pretty much guaranteed to get no interest. As a minimum make sure that you have a complete LinkedIn and Facebook profile, which correctly lists your education, experience and location.

When filling out your LinkedIn, make sure you use plenty of (relevant) KEYWORDS. People can’t read minds, and computers aren’t psychic either – Therefore ensure you have filled out your skills, bio and experience sections with the types of words you commonly see listed under the ‘Requirements’ section of a job specification describing the type of role you have the skills for and are keen to get (adding irrelevant skills will just mean you are inundated with irrelevant jobs which is no good to anyone). It’s also handy to add a little pointer to the end of your bio, stating what kind of roles you are interested in and when you might be available – that way you will avoid contact from people who haven’t understood from your other details what you can do.

Another good way in creating a positive online presence is to be very proactive in contributing to online forums, discussions, events and communities. This can be as simple as retweeting an interesting industry articles you have read or following the industry movers and shakers, right through to being a prize-winner of online coding competitions or being an active contributor to online open source projects.

This will help you in a number of ways. Firstly it will no doubt improve your knowledge of the subject, which won’t hurt your university grades! Secondly, it will help demonstrate to employers that you are passionate about the subject – which in the absence of substantial commercial experience can be the deciding factor between you and another candidate. Lastly, as outlined before, it will help people find you – as you will start to be viewed as influencing and participating in the industry.

The aim here is to become a ‘Thought Leader’, which in other words means you are demonstrating your expertise in the field – and the earlier you do this the better! In the digital age anyone can voice their opinion, explain to others things they have found interesting, or just show off how good they are! Dust off your blog, write about what you find interesting, and get involved with other people! Next time we’ll run through some of the best ways to do this, such as using GitHub and StackOverflow.

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