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August 10, 2012

The power of social media

social mediaA guest post from Tripp Martin, Talent Acquisition Manager at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, assessing the growing importance of social media as a job search tool.

I have seen a lot of changes – both personally and professionally – in 15 years of working since I graduated from James Madison University in 1997. Back then, the Internet was in its infancy and we certainly didn't have YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Job seeking (and socialising!) happened the old fashioned way, but some things hold fast and one of those is the power of networking. The how has changed but not the why...

Surround yourself with good people

One thing I did learn from one of my business professors is the power of networking. I can still hear Dr. Jone’s voice, "I don’t care how successful you are or how high you get in a company, always have your resume up to date and always surround yourself with good people both inside and outside of your organisation." I have always remembered that advice and in my 15 year working career I have enjoyed great success mainly due to the people I have surrounded myself with.

Social media speeds up the process

So how does this relate to social media? The concept of networking and building relationships has not changed. What has changed is how easily and quickly you can pass information and reach contacts within your network. I see many students who wait until graduation to start looking for work. They take one look around and are puzzled about where to start. I encourage students to start building relationships now. If you aren’t already, get involved on campus, get as much work experience as you can, and utilise Careers Services who already have contacts within organisations you are interested in working for. Sign up for LinkedIn and connect with the professionals you meet on campus and through your work experience. We know that Twitter is only used by a minority of students and grads, but that's set to change: it's a great way to build on relationships you develop, so get tweeting.

Making it work

The media is replete with stories of graduates taking to Twitter to further their job search; some of you may be familiar with the story of Ulrike Schulz, who used Twitter to land her dream social media role at We Are Social. If you're a current job seeker and use Twitter (perhaps you just 'lurk') you'll probably have seen the growth in job search hashtags as more and more people switch on the power of online networking. Here are just a few currently doing the rounds:

  • #hireme
  • #needajob
  • #jobsearch
  • #jobhunt

I've got a great personal example of how this works. I've known Peter Bailey, a student from Loughborough University, for over two years. I first met Peter when he applied for the Targetjobs Management Undergraduate of the Year sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I interacted with Peter on numerous occasions after that, mainly through SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise). Peter never missed an opportunity to get to know as many business professionals as possible both within Enterprise Rent-A-Car and other companies. Recently, Peter’s 12 month placement in Malaysia fell through. It is difficult enough to find a placement a year in advance but it was now June and he was without a placement for this year. Peter tweeted about his placement falling through, how difficult it would be to find a placement at such short notice and, importantly, that he was actively looking. I immediately contacted Peter and he is now working at one of our local West Midlands offices as a Management Trainee Placement. Not bad for 140 characters!

You're in control

This is a perfect example of the power of social media. You still have to go out and get to know people and build a network of contacts. Social media simply allows you to contact a larger audience more quickly and efficiently. In Peter’s case, instead of calling up his contacts one by one over a matter of weeks trying to find a placement, he simply typed a 90 word message and hit send. That’s powerful, and immediate.


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