Teenage Kicks - 5 career secrets our kids don’t want us to know

By Anna Pitts

As a mature person, there's a lot you can teach the next generations of job hunters, budding entrepreneurs and go-getters from your time in your profession. The successes you've created, the mistakes you've learned from and the opportunities you have had will no doubt equip you with valuable words of wisdom for anyone looking to learn from your unique experience.

However, this is not to say that you have nothing to gain from listening to a younger, fledgling career maker. ‘Young’ people can have the upper hand in one, important sector of knowledge, and one that is rapidly shaping the modern world: social media.

Of course you can use the internet; you’re always on your email, you have a Facebook account and send the odd tweet, but ‘young’ people are the ones who are dominating this new technology and therefore the ones who are shaping how these vital communication tools develop. And they are developing and changing fast.

Social media is one of the biggest tools at your disposal in terms of career development. Here are five career enhancing tips on social media from Anna Pitts at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau

1. Take the ‘work’ out of networking

LinkedIn is the fast track to the people you need to be connected to. You can easily find and engage with people that you might never meet in your ‘real-world’ activities, therefore broadening your horizons and expanding your opportunities.

Statistics on visual.ly show that 61% of professionals use LinkedIn as their primary networking site and over 50% of users have a graduate degree. The internet erases the boundaries of ‘possible’ networking, opening up an almost infinite number of valuable contacts to you.

Conferences will always be a fantastic way to network, however they sometimes leave out junior professionals who aren’t yet ‘important’ enough to be invited to big networking events. Young professionals often overcome this handicap by using their social media connections to compensate for their restricted access to this networking channel.

Having grown up with text messaging and social media, they are expert at connecting and nurturing relationships through digital media. It could also be argued that they are often better at this than real life interactions!

Almost subconsciously, they have learned that valuable relationships begin with gentle, almost casual interactions. Over time they cultivate these to become as valuable as or even more valuable than a ‘real world’ relationship might be.

The Baby boomer generation have spent their lives in a different world. One where a desire and respect for privacy and some ‘old-fashioned’ etiquette still survives. And they often apply these attitudes to how they use social media.

The inevitable result of this is that their LinkedIn network is often restricted to being a subset of their real world connections and no more. They miss out entirely on a potential global network of contacts that hold the potential to be of immeasurable value.

2. Learn the new rules of online networking

Just blundering up to someone on LinkedIn and asking to connect with them is likely to result in a rejection. So totally unsolicited invitations may result in rejections, but if you add a polite and flattering message as to why you are inviting them to connect, the chances are they will accept.

Better still, your chances of having an LinkedIn invitation accepted will be almost 100% if you’ve first paved the way by means of a lower impact connection through other platforms like Twitter, Facebook or a LinkedIn Group discussion.

Additionally, messaging on LinkedIn can get faster results than emailing a work address, as it has a personal touch - don’t be afraid to take the direct approach. It may be the enthusiasm of new professionals that lets them make such bold networking moves, but using social media in these proactive ways will exponentially boost the size, quality and value of your network.

3. Job hunt sophisticatedly

You might be ready to take the next step in your career, meaning you’ll be looking for new, better job opportunities. By all means, ask around your colleagues and look on job sites, but the first port of call for your younger counterparts would instantly be social media sites. Recruiters use LinkedIn to look for candidates and publicise their roles.

Use the search box and edit your preferences so that relevant information will be filtered onto your feed. Make sure your profile is attractive and eye catching to recruiters and companies; update your experience and bio, making sure your achievements are highlighted.

Using the advanced search on Twitter can expose you to many opportunities. Companies will often hashtag their roles, so searching for specific terms on the advanced search will bring the information to you in the click of a button.

A recent phenomenon among job seekers is the ‘Twitter CV’; used by young job hunters and graduates as a quick way to get their information to employers who are recruiting. A template of such a tweet looks like:

[name][current position][seeks new position][link to online profile/cv/work][relevant hashtags]

For example:

annaepitts. Sussex uni English Lang student. Seeks marketing role. http://www.linkedin.com/vsearch/p?orig=SEO_SN&firstName=Anna&lastName=Pitts&trk=SEO_SN #CV #marketingjobs

Alter the information and use targeted hashtags to personalise your tweet and make sure it reaches the right people.

4. Tweet all about it.

Twitter is fast becoming the most influential social media site there is; according to visual.ly over 100,000 tweets are sent every minute so its contribution to the business world is massive- think how many of those tweets will be from major companies! Having initially been developed as a way to spread news fast, it has taken off (no bird pun intended) and is now used in a plethora of ways, limited only by your creativity. The simple fact is that Twitter doesn’t come with a set of user instructions!

As well as being a new job hunting method, Twitter retains its primary function of rapid communication in the corporate setting. This is the aspect that you, the professional, can access and utilise. Connect with companies and recruiters or colleagues that would be beneficial to your career.

It’s all very well having lots of followers, but to get noticed you need to be engaging- creating and sharing content that your followers will be interested in. Join in discussions, retweet points of interest or send direct messages to companies you want to work with. Including targeted hashtags in your tweets will mean they join relevant trends and your tweet, and hence name, will be seen by anybody searching for that term.

Putting ‘RT’ (retweet) at the end of tweets you particularly want shared and seen can boost the chance of it being retweeted, meaning the chance you get noticed increases too. According to sysomos.com 92% of retweets happen in the first hour, and 29% of tweets get a reaction. Say something worth sharing to make sure you are in that 29%.

5. Have dual accounts.

On the internet you do need to be careful about what content and information you have your name associated with. This is a lesson, many of the young (and not so young,) have learned the hard way. Remember, once something is on the internet you can’t get it back; digital footprints are indelible so think about the effect certain material could have on yours.

For instance, some MET policemen made a Harlem Shake video recently which had serious repercussions on their careers, as their behaviour was deemed unprofessional and immature, although the video itself is seemingly harmless fun.

A smart way around this issue of not being able to share funny cat videos is to have two accounts; a private one, which only friends have access to, and a professional one.

On Facebook, you can make a page for your professional account, set it to public, and treat it as a kind of CV and platform to publicise your work. Follow employers and relevant people to showcase your professional self. Additionally, your page will come up before your personal account when people search for you meaning your professional image will be the first one people come to.

However if you are looking for a new job it might be best to discuss with potential employers within the privacy of other platforms, such as direct messaging on LinkedIn. There’s no harm in connecting with other employers, but make sure you respect your current place of work and use appropriate methods if you are looking elsewhere.

A great example of youthful social networking that led to career success is the story of Ulrike Schulz. Ulrike was a German graduate looking for a job in London. She created a Twitter account solely dedicated to her job search and professional musings, through which she found and messaged relevant contacts. This resulted in a six week paid internship in London after one of her Twitter contacts passed on her CV to colleagues at a London firm. During her internship she blogged for the company and was involved in their social media. She continued to use Twitter and other sites to network, whilst employing more traditional methods, such as passing out business cards at events and approaching business owners. Her cyber-networking efforts led her to what she calls her ‘career destiny’; a job in her dream sector- social media. Read her full account here for inspiration!

So next time you get an invitation to a 2 day conference and are thinking about it as networking opportunity, ask yourself, ‘could I get more value from investing the same amount of time online?’

Anna Pitts, is a Marketing Assistant and Online Researcher at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. Her work involves PR and outreach and writing informative, interesting advice based articles for graduates and students. Follow her on twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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