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Online networking

Online networking involves setting up a professional profile on a platform such as LinkedIn, and connecting with people and organisations who could assist you in your professional career. Your online profiles are your shop window and your personal brand. They can help you research careers and companies you want to work for, find job opportunities, and market yourself.

Many graduate employers have Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. They use these to share information and communicate with students, and some jobs are exclusively advertised via social media, particularly Twitter and LinkedIn. You could miss out on opportunities if you’re not using online networks. Social media can widely expand your network. Instead of having just your friends and family to reach out to as contacts, social media allows you to make more professional connections with potential employers.

How can LinkedIn help me?

LinkedIn is a global professional networking website. We would encourage you to join LinkedIn and build your professional profile while you’re still a student. It’s an invaluable tool and this is why:

  • Research different jobs and career paths – see how your connections have forged their career
  • Search for organisations by your preferred industry sector or location
  • Connect with alumni around the world to get careers insight
  • Join professional groups on LinkedIn – hear what people are talking about in the profession

Setting up your LinkedIn profile

Students have access to online courses through Lynda.com which will help you set up your LinkedIn profile and learn how to build your network

Develop an effective LinkedIn profile that showcases your skills:

  • Start by using your latest CV to add details of your qualifications and experience
  • Add a headline that summarises the role you’re seeking
  • Look how others in the sector are representing themselves online
  • Refer to your career ambitions
  • Include recommendations and endorsements from professional or academic contacts – you could ask for a recommendation from your dissertation advisor for example
  • Include a head and shoulders photo that represents the image you’d like to show to employers–ideally looking smart, approachable and friendly
  • Mention any extra-curricular activities or volunteering you’ve done outside of your studies

First steps once your profile’s set up:

  • Make your profile public and customise your LinkedIn URL so it’s unique to you and makes your profile easy to find online
  • Add existing contacts you have, from your friends and classmates, to part-time job contacts
  • Join some LinkedIn groups – from sector groups related to your area of interest, to our alumni group, and geographical networking groups (e.g. for the city you’re looking to locate to).
  • If you’d like to connect with someone you’ve never met before, always send a personal message introducing yourself and why you want to connect with them.
  • Don’t directly ask for a job when networking. Ask for information and contacts and see where it takes you.
  • Use the Alumni finder tool to discover what previous graduates from your course have gone to do. You can filter by location, industry and job role

We run practical sessions on developing your LinkedIn profile. To book onto one of these sessions, see TARGETconnect.

How can Twitter help me?

Having an active presence on Twitter can be useful for finding jobs and making connections, particularly for some industries such as the media, marketing and digital industries. Twitter makes it acceptable to follow people you don’t know, opening up a whole number of networking opportunities. It can help you to:

  • Find advertised jobs – use Twitter’s search box and type in keywords related to the job you’re looking for, for example “graduate marketing jobs”
  • Communicate with graduate employers and hear what’s going on in their business
  • Network to create your own opportunities – follow influential professionals in your chosen career sector
  • Link to your other professional online profiles, such as LinkedIn or your own blog, so that employers can get a full picture of you as a person

Setting up and using Twitter

  • You can include a short bio. Summarise the kind of job you’re looking for and what skills you have.
  • Hashtags: use appropriate hashtags for your tweets. You can explore hashtags such as #ukjobs and #graduatejobs for the latest vacancies
  • You can also hashtag specific industries
  • Be active, you need to tweet most days to get noticed!
  • Engage - retweet things of interest, comment and ask questions. This will help to raise your profile.
  • Follow - most major employers are active on Twitter and often promote their latest jobs and events.

Managing your online presence

You can also use other social networks for making career connections, however it’s worth noting that employers will check candidates’ online profiles (e.g. doing a Google search and looking on your Twitter and Facebook profiles). What you include on your social networking profiles will give employers an overall impression of you. So you should use every opportunity to make a good impression.

For a first good impressions make sure you have good grammar and spelling on your LinkedIn profile and show that you have wide range of interests. It’s a good idea to keep some social network profiles for personal use only e.g. Facebook. You can change your privacy settings to maximum on Facebook to maintain it for social purposes. You might want to start by Googling your name when you’re logged out of your social networking accounts and see what comes up. This is what potential employers will see about you. 

Get further advice on managing your digital footprint on TargetJobs website.

Contact the Careers and Employability Service

You can contact us via TARGETconnect.

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