Sarah Fuller (@sj_fuller) is a recent graduate who embraces social media and all that it brings.
Sarah is part evangelist, part practitioner, my sometimes intern and blog collaborator. I recently started to feature Sarah as a guest blogger because I wanted to get a real Gen Y view on social-media, because most of the Gen Y commentators seemed to be aged well out of the label bracket.
Sarah is now gainfully employed full-time. I’m sorry to lose the potential services of a great intern, but delighted that she has now started on the career she really wants.
Sarah will continue with her weekly posts here on #Tru, so you can follow her story and her views.
This is Sarah’s story.
Generation Y and Recruitment: A Social Experience?
Last week I had some great news – I got a job! A permanent, full-time and (finally!) paid position in a company that (weirdly after all this time) virtually perfectly matches what I’ve been looking for. No longer need I panic when meeting new people that they’d kindly ask where I worked, feel guilty for spending weekends with friends instead of trawling the ‘net for applications, or suffer the awkward fait of becoming what was turning into being an eternal intern.
There are two reasons why I’m self-indulgently sharing this news with you.
1. After months of interning I’m now so excited that I’m telling anyone who’ll listen.
2. Considering how many of ‘Gen Y’ are currently looking for work, I wondered what impact social media really has on this, using my own experiences as a case study.
When first graduating from university I attended all of the talks and presentation that would tell me how to get a job. I knew to fill out my Linked In profile as completely as possible and went about joining relevant groups. I tried to follow interesting people on Twitter and establish myself as someone
that had something to say. I even went against my work-home divide to dabble a little with Facebook’s Branch Out application, although with little success as the majority of my friends don’t include employment information in their profiles. But in all honesty, these weren’t activities that were specific for finding me a job, they were all things that I should have been doing anyway, whether employed or not!
A big difference was the tone of engagement; trying hard to sound genuinely interested in someone (which I would be) is far harder when you’re also trying to make it known that you’re looking for work. It can also require some creative thinking when it comes to expanding your networks as for someone starting with limited connections it is hard to establish yourself in a new network.
This was especially the case with LinkedIn. Although created with the intention of creating professional networks, LinkedIn is very much designed with the established professional in mind, not those starting out on their careers. It ignores the importance of educational mentors in the way that connection relationships are constructed and does not allow for internships or work experience to be acknowledged separately from full-time employment. Personally, I therefore viewed LinkedIn not as a network but as an accessible place to store an online resume containing links to my twitter feed and blogs that I could direct people to.
Twitter is often stated as being the other crucial mainstream recruitment
networks to be a part of. For me, I found this to be a more natural environment than LinkedIn to keep in touch with interesting people who I met at various events and placements. However, I found the most useful aspect of Twitter to be the range of articles that were promoted daily. Eager to learn about anything that could prove useful in an interview, I found this a great way to gain a lot of people’s opinions quickly (at times I had to ban myself from Tweetdeck just to cut down on the distraction!). In this respect, Twitter can be a great employment tool, bringing the user into contact with a wide range of people, a lot of whom are amazing in their support and efforts to help. However, when it comes to seeking out jobs blind, it is far harder. The number of agencies now using hashtags such as ‘jobs’ and ‘employment’ have rendered both pointless, with similar outcomes when searching for specific industries, such as ‘SocialMedia’ or ‘PR’. Yes, it is possible to follow feeds from a specific agency, but this is nothing that can’t already be viewed through their website. (The added advantage of having a specific agency’s Twitter feed can be seen on mobile devices but when you’re looking for your first job, on-the-go access has limited use!)
Of course, there are other social media avenues available to explore. For
example, there has been a recent rise in on-line YouTube resumes – Graeme Anthony’s is a stand out example of this. Perhaps the most unique use of social media by a ‘Gen Y’ to gain employment was the Employ Kyle campaign. An interesting twist on the employee-employer relationship designed by recent grad Kyle Clarke, he successfully established an eBay style auction of his skills, the most appealing employer winning his employment. There will always be these creative elites and for them their ability to think around a situation has provided the rewards that they deserve.
Looking back now at the contacts I made and events attended, I find it a little amusing that my final job came through a traditional recruitment agency. It makes me wonder whether all that time spent cultivating relationships and developing networks actually helped in any way. The answer to this is yes. Although the final outcome (the job) may have happened independently of these networks, individually they provided me with opinion, knowledge and support that give me confidence in the position that I now have.
Looking back over my experience now, I have come to the (fairly obvious but still sometimes ignored) conclusion that social media is only one of the many tools that should be used when job-seeking. Networking has always been an important part of the employment process with social media providing new and accessible platforms for people to take advantage of. Gaining real life exposure through internships and recruitment agencies are important as the processes are embedded in company culture and so employers understand how to use them effectively. However, to combine these traditional avenues with those provided through the use of social media creates a powerful platform not only to seek employment from, but also to take forward into your chosen career.
Please join me in congratulating Sarah on landing the job. I know her well enough to know she will be a star. I think her comments on taking a blended approach to job hunting is a major lesson. Social-media is just one of the channels, and traditional recruiters still have a big part to play in job hunting.
What channels are working for you and what approaches do you feel are best in job hunting?
Well done Sarah for being an ambassador for your generation, you can read sarah’s other blog posts under the “sarah Fullers Gen Y view” category. Just search or subscribe.