Soon-to-be graduates — especially in the creative industries — can and should leverage social media to showcase their creativity and initiative, to help themselves stand out when they apply for jobs.
With thousands of applicants vying for a limited number of vacancies in the market, candidates should do more than simply submit their CVs in response to advertised positions, and catching the eyes of potential employers through relevant social media activity is one of these ways, advise experts.
It is no longer enough to make sure that there is nothing damaging on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn feeds... you also need to use these platforms in a proactive way to position you favourably.
"No matter what your vocation, you can use social media to boost your profile in your chosen industry," said Elbie Liebenberg, principal at Oxbridge Academy.
Liebenberg said employers now, as a matter of course, look up social media profiles of candidates, which is why these platforms are so brilliant as tools to profile experience, competence and creative thinking.
"It is no longer enough to make sure that there is nothing damaging on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn feeds. While it is important to reflect your professionalism on these platforms, and get rid of anything that may harm your candidacy, you also need to use these platforms in a proactive way to position you favourably," she said.
Erika Theron, the academic dean at The Private Hotel School agreed.
"Entry-level positions are highly contested and scarce, yet almost all of them call for experience. Social media provides an opportunity to gain experience, showcase creativity and initiative, and serve as a platform for demonstrating your personality and capabilities," Theron said.
She provided examples of these.
"What you want to do is demonstrate that you can apply what you have learned. Few students have the budget to throw a massive event simply to demonstrate that they can. So therefore you need to find existing opportunities — for instance a community fair, a charity ball or auction, or a local market.
"On the day of the event, use your phone to take and edit great pics, and post them to your social media accounts with clear captions and industry-related hashtags. Include any testimonials from the organisers or guests as well," advised Theron.
Renee Hill, the managing director of Capsicum Culinary School, said the same approach can be followed in the food industry.
For instance, someone who holds a qualification in food preparation and cooking will have learned how to prepare, cook and finish foods by frying, braising and stewing, boiling, poaching and steaming, baking, roasting and grilling, and the non-thermal cooking method.
"So next time you have, for instance, a family event where food will be prepared, step in and help develop the menu so that it can showcase your skills in these methods. Have a family member or friend take awesome pics and video, and apply filters to make the images look exciting and professional.
"Again, add detailed captions and hashtags, and create your cooking album on Facebook or Instagram. Prospective employers will then be able to see your passion and ability if they dig through your online presence."
The same applies for student in fields such as photography, fashion, beauty, art and storytelling.
"Entry-level positions are highly coveted, and candidates must bring something extra to the proverbial table," noted Hill.
"Social media provides the ideal tool to not only connect with people in your industry and be aware of vacancies or opportunities before they arise, but also to demonstrate that you are a candidate to take note of. Practising your craft ensures you are always growing and learning, while documenting what you've done provides the perfect opportunity to raise your profile.
"Practice makes perfect, and using social media to your benefit shows that you have a self-starter attitude, while also giving a confidence boost when you next find yourself in the interview room," Hill concluded.
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