Improve your networking with social media

Social media has become a crucial part of any job hunt, so how can you do it well?

Like it or not, LinkedIn has become a valuable networking tool. We spoke to Sharon McCooey, head of LinkedIn Ireland, and Brian McFadden, founder and client services director at the Recruiters agency about how graduates can make the most of social media to get their careers going.

What are the main social media tools for graduates?

Brian McFadden: It’s more important for some graduates to have a digital footprint, particularly if it is in an outward facing role such as sales or marketing. In other roles, it may be less important but it does help employers to know if you are digital savvy, if you have accolades and recommendations and if you are an active online user.

If you're doing a more backroom role such as software engineering, Github and StackOverflow may be more important ways of showing your work.


Why is LinkedIn an important tool now?

Sharon McCooey: LinkedIn passed the milestone of one million members in 2013, doubled to two million members in 2019 and has continued to grow since. Our growth has been driven by multiple factors, not simply people finding job opportunities. Over the past year we’ve seen an increase in conversations on the platform and the amount of content being shared as people have turned to their LinkedIn community for support to help navigate the challenges Covid has presented, as well as learning new skills through our online learning platform.

Brian McFadden: LinkedIn is a means to an end, and a tool we use in recruitment quite a bit. It has good tools to help build your profile, but it's not Facebook or Instagram, it is a professional social media site so try to use professional pictures rather than holding drinks or hugging friends.

Do people get hired through LinkedIn?

Sharon McCooey: Three people are hired every minute on LinkedIn. We’ve added a new feature where anyone looking to find a new role can add an Open to Work photo frame to their profile photo – members using the #OpenToWork photo frame are on average 40 per cent more likely to receive InMails from recruiters, and 20 per cent more likely to receive messages from the LinkedIn community.

What does a good LinkedIn profile look like?

Sharon McCooey: The way to stand out on LinkedIn is to ensure that your profile is as complete as possible and that you are active on the site.

Your profile is a living, breathing document rather than a standard CV. Prospective employers can look beyond your employment history to get a sense of who you are as an individual, which is particularly important given that they will want to ensure you could gel with their team and fit the company culture. Similarly, they can get a sense of your actual work so we would always encourage members to share their achievements and tangible examples of their work as proof of their capabilities and expertise. People should upload university work they’re proud of, like presentations and articles, to their profile to let people know that they can walk the walk.

Brian McFadden: Say what your interests and education are, as well as whatever work experience you have and what you are motivated to do, if you know. Get help with it if you need to and put some thought into it. It is not a CV and certainly our clients won’t accept it instead of a CV. You should approach the profile by looking at your competencies. If, for instance, you’ve done a team project in college, you might reflect on whether you are analytical and good with numbers and extracting data, or is your strength in keeping the group together. Are your competencies linked to your interests? If you haven’t been involved in college life because of other commitments, try to find other ways of bringing your strengths to bear. Artificial intelligence is changing workplaces and jobs are disappearing, so hiring managers want people who can do jobs machines can’t.

What does a good LinkedIn profile do?

Sharon McCooey: It complements the traditional CV but does so much more. You do not have to proactively apply for jobs with a CV, as your LinkedIn profile puts you in the shop window 24/7, even when you are not currently looking for your next play. Prospective employers are always on the lookout for new talent, so LinkedIn is a great way to get noticed and stand out from the crowd. Instead of a simple A4 piece of paper, your profile helps you build a strong personal brand, giving graduates’ visibility a vital boost in front of potential recruiters.

What’s new on LinkedIn?

Sharon McCooey: We’ve added a number of new tools to help jobseekers and recruiters. LinkedIn members can now add an audio feature to their profile, so you’ll have the ability to create a recording of your name pronunciation, which will then be clickable on your profile and avoids the awkwardness of a mispronounced name during an interview.

A new video function, Cover Story, lets members personalise their first “hello” in a short video in their profile, bringing their personality to life and showcasing their skills which is especially helpful for notoriously hard-to-assess soft skills. Our data shows that almost 50 per cent of people say they’re more likely to be their authentic self in how they show up compared to a year ago. If you’re a jobseeker this is a great way to showcase your soft skills, which almost 70 per cent of hiring managers agree are hard to assess.

We also recently added a new profile field for pronouns. For many, pronouns are core to their identity and how they want to be seen. Seventy per cent of jobseekers believe it’s important that hirers know their gender pronouns, and 72 per cent of hiring managers believe having clarity about gender pronouns can help others be respectful.

Finally, can social media cause you problems?

Brian McFadden: Some companies go down the road of due diligence and check Facebook and Instagram to see if anything odd pops up. They may not do a deep-dive but could have a quick look, and I know of candidates who didn’t get hired because of something inappropriate in their profile pic, or if they’re actively racist online: who wants to hire someone with racist views?

Sharon McCooey: You wouldn’t hand in a CV on crumpled paper so make sure your profile looks the part. Make sure you choose a good quality picture for your profile photo. But equally, make sure it reflects who you really are and how you wish to show up professionally. If you’re a chef, for example, wear whatever your uniform in the kitchen is rather than putting on a suit if that’s not an authentic representation of who you are professionally. An interview starts the moment someone searches for you online and your first impression is your profile photo.

Also avoid buzzwords where possible. Some corporate terminology has become so common it has lost its relevance. Words like “creative”, “extensive experience” and “team player” can be overused to the point of being almost meaningless. Find different and unique ways to talk about yourself and your skills, so you can stand apart from the competition.