Social Media – Your Information Age!!

Growing up in what has been coined the “Information Age” has been a pretty incredible experience. I’ve never had to wonder longer than I can type about how long a dolphin can stay underwater and as I write this, I just heard someone on the Stirling to Glasgow train ask  (on his new iPhone 4S) the names of Liam Neeson’s children.

If you haven’t already checked yourself: dolphins usually stay underwater for anywhere up to 8 minutes and you can find out the children’s names for yourself! What’s even more astounding, I will admittedly allow myself to forget this information instantly, because I will be able to retrieve it not in my brain, but online, all day and every day. What a world we live in.

I’m not as interested in this anymore, as much as I am interested in the new era we’ve entered: what I’d call the “Your Information Age.” I can Google, Facebook, Tweet, etc. any person I want to, and I’ll more than likely come up with something. In some cases, I can come up with a lot of things, most of which I’ll wish I never knew.

In the job search and professionalism game, this is a big deal. Our “digital footprints,” as people are calling them, can be a make or break for us in our careers and lives. So, what can I  say now to you, as graduates of the University of Stirling about how to succeed in the “Your Information Age?” Here are three tips:

1.) Play privacy “Whack a Mole” – Social networks update features and settings regularly to stay current. But, with updates often come changes to privacy controls, many of which are opt-OUT not opt-IN (Facebook’s Instant Personalization feature is one example of this). Treat these opt-out updates like the moles in the “Whack a Mole” game seen at amusement parks and fairs. Be vigilant about how your information gets shared, and knock down any feature with which you’re not comfortable.

2.) See something, say something – Help each other out. I talked with a colleague last semester who told me that he routinely deletes friends’ comments and messages on his social networks when he doesn’t like what they say. Then, he takes it one step further and tells them why he did and why they should care, too. We don’t have to be the police of on-line professionalism.  But, we can encourage each other to succeed, and then we will.

3.) The best defence is a good offence – Rather than an all “protect, protect, protect” strategy, aim to have at least one searchable professional presence. It’s inevitable that you will be found on-line, and by taking this approach it should be in a positive light. LinkedIn is an obvious one  for this, but Twitter and blogs are great places to start, too. When on the offence, it’s possible that the jobs and opportunities will come to you.

Have you thought of networking as a job hunting tool?

Networking is a critical part of any job hunt, it’s your opportunity to present the real you, rather than a piece of paper and a covering letter. It’s your opportunity to really sell yourself.

Graduates are renowned for being technology aficionados, social networking addicts and being constantly surrounded by industry experts and peers with the same objectives. All the tools you need to network are, in fact, at your fingertips: Linkedin; Twitter;  facebook; to name just a few.

Local business events are also great networking tools. Often you will find that chambers of commerce or business clubs have events which are free to attend and hold many of the area’s influential business people. A great starting point for this is: www.findnetworkingevents.com this site allows you to search for networking events regionally. Always do your preparation for these events, appropriately dressed and take copies of your CV, you never know who you could meet.

The way in which you present yourself is really important when you network, and regardless of how hard you have been working all week, that first impression is essential in helping you to be memorable, so make sure you think about how you want to be remembered!

Our leaflet on networking explains how important making a good first impression is especially if you want people to help you or potentially even work with you in the future: http://www.careers.stir.ac.uk/students/documents/networking.pdf

First impressions aren’t always created face to face however so remember that what you post on the internet can be accessed! Try typing your name into Google and see what comes up – your facebook page , your linked in page, your twitter page, your location,  that ‘not so friendly’ post your wrote on that forum last week, things you don’t want people to know about!

The Drum recently posted this article which claims 91% of potential employers screen candidates through social media sites – so when you’re applying for graduate jobs, maybe you should re-think your profile picture! http://www.thedrum.co.uk/news/2011/10/24/91-employers-use-social-media-screen-applicants

One final thought, do check out our events webpages for any interesting networking workshops or employer events.