UK Careers Managers Discuss How To Find A Job Online

University careers managers from across the UK mull over the use of social networking to land a job

BusinessBecause were delighted to join the biennial Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) conference last week to run a workshop on "Finding a job online". About 40 higher ed careers managers from universities across the UK participated in the workshop, representing a range of feelings towards the online jobs world. Some felt enthusiastic, some suspicious, some confused, but most keen to learn more.

A quick show of hands at the start indicated that almost the entire room believed that online recruitment is now more important than offline recruitment: most students/ graduates are finding jobs online, whether it be through job boards, online application forms or professional networking sites.

A host of evidence backs up this swing to the online world. Recent surveys by Jobvite and the WSJ in the US found that 79% of hiring managers review applicants' info online and 89% of companies will use social media networks for recruiting this year.

BusinessBecause presented a few slides on the importance of understanding your online reputation and what gets revealed when someone google searches you. Assuming you don't share your name with Paris Hilton, you're probably easy to track down through a simple google search. 50% of the participants had googled themselves recently and most had advised their students to do the same.

There are ways to influence your reputation online: create and maintain sensible profiles on networking sites; publish well-written articles or blogs; participate in relevant forums or review sites for your industry. Once you've established a positive web profile, you can be more proactive and start building helpful connections online: follow companies on Twitter; comment on company Facebook pages; message hiring managers; leave attention-grabbing reviews so that opinion-leaders notice you! Earlier this summer Matthew Epstein, a Californian seeking a job at Google, launched an entire digital campaign around his blog:, an indication of the lengths some job seekers will go to!

A few of the workshop participants could cite examples of how students had proactively used the internet to further their job prospects. One student at the University of West London (UWL) started a blog with regular twitter updates, which led to an approach from an employer. UWL also actively encourages students to use LinkedIn, a vast resource of professional contacts and company information. Some participants felt LinkedIn might be 'too vast' and almost overwhelming for students to navigate. We've found helpful starter videos for undergrads here, including tips on how to use your LinkedIn profile (like your BusinessBecause resume!) for professional networking, not for "posting party photos".

All of your online activity can be focused within the industry sector you're interested in. Several careers managers from universities such as Warwick and Buckinghamshire were keen to support students in specific academic areas (e.g. biology and music). Being savvy about the right websites and forums can help you target potential recruiters in your chosen field of work. For music we'd recommend Music Jobs UK and MySpace and for biology we'd recommend the New Scientist and Science Forums, but there are hundreds of others too!

The last five years has seen an explosion in niche websites dedicated to specific academic areas or industry sectors. Some examples include: Work In Startups for graduates seeking entrepreneurial experience; W4MP for jobs in politics and journalism; The Asia Career Times for students looking for opportunities in Asia and QuantNet for the geeks in class. Not forgetting BusinessBecause for business students and EngineeringBecause for engineering students around the world...

With the UK being such a popular education destination for foreign students, some of the careers managers were interested in how to use the web to forge employment contacts overseas. Increasingly difficult UK work permit restrictions and the attractiveness of higher-growth economies in Asia are luring some UK undergrads to job hunt abroad. One of the participants (from the University of East Anglia) is a dedicated International Careers advisor, who advises her students to use LinkedIn to find potential employers in other countries.

The general sentiment from the workshop was that UK university careers managers are aware of the huge impact of the web on recruitment, they're open-minded and keen to learn more, but they're wary of too much 'online shmoozing' or a 'scatter gun' approach until they've seen more tangible results. So please tell us if you're a student, or know a student, who has landed a job from the internet - we'd love to hear your story and learn from your success!

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