Most young people are regular users of social media -Instagram, YouTube, Facebook. They use a range of digital platforms to stay connected with friends/peers and to share the things that interest them. But how many consider the role of social media when it comes to looking for a work experience placement, job, apprenticeship or university place?
This article will provide some ideas about how your students might go about developing their online presence and shaping their digital footprint to support career building? It will also look at how, as a career professional, you can support them.
Social media is central to students’ employability. The internet offers your students a space within which they can manage/ build their reputations and ‘sell themselves’ to employers . It is where conversations can be undertaken, contacts identified and networks maintained. Platforms such as Instagram or YouTube can provide a real opportunity for young people to shine.
Just 10 years ago bloggers and vloggers were virtually unheard of but now young people can make a career of this as well as using it to promote their skills and ideas. When used well social media can help students to find out about and transition into their future. However, it is important to remember that if social media is used badly, it can seriously disadvantage a students’ career development - employers frequently check out prospective employees’ digital footprints, so maintaining an ‘uncontroversial’ social media presence is a must when job hunting.
Are you currently addressing these issues with your students?
Digital Career Profiling
Creating a digital career portfolio requires students to produce content, collect and critically evaluate online information, adapt to on-going technological developments and develop an ability to build meaningful professional relationships online. As a career professional there are a number of ways you can facilitate opportunities for students to develop such skills and knowledge during their time at school.
- ask them to think about their own online presence and how an employer might respond to this
- ask them to think of social media as a useful tool rather than something they simply do - encourage your students to use the online communities they belong to for their career benefit
- encourage your students to take ownership of their online profile - awareness of their digital footprint and taking active steps to manage it
- encourage students to move into new communities where they can advance their career thinking or their career?
- relate their learning in school to employability skills
- integrate a culture of employability and skill recording into your school
- promote the recording of evidence of employability and achievement as it happens e.g. photos, video uploads, blogs
- help your students put together their digital portfolio of achievements, experiences and evidence (see below)
- create groups and profiles for the employers you work with.
- allow these employers to interact online with your students/ provide advice and mentoring
- post job vacancies to your students
Out of the three main social media platforms that recruiters use - Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook - LinkedIn, with around 21 million UK users is the biggest and most popular. This is largely used by graduates or professionals who have work experience and have developed skills that they can demonstrate. What is there for the 14-19 age group? Take a look at Kloodle, a digital framework that translates your students’ educational experiences into the skills employers are looking for and connects students to employers.
Showcasing Employability Skills
An increasing numbers of employers are seeking to recruit at 18, they are keen to engage with 14-18 year old students and a digital portfolio can translate your students’ educational experiences into the skills employers are looking for. So, how can your students showcase their skills and achievements?
- upload evidence of specific skills e.g. where they have demonstrated resilience, creativity or problem solving
- show evidence of teamwork or leadership working within a group scenario
- write about an issue close to their heart and the actions they took to show their interest or passion
- blog about a specific work related area
- record current work experience
- interview a professional from a particular sector and either upload a video, photo or blog of their findings
- produce a research paper on a specified area of a business which may include new technologies or new initiatives
- create a 20 second vlog describing themselves as a person
- host a lunchtime or after school lesson where a student teaches their peers a new topic, skill or raises awareness of a new initiative
- make a poster to raise awareness of a new concept within a particular work-related area
- visit a place of significance to their chosen work-related area and blog about their findings
- create a digital resource that could be used for a specified purpose within their chosen work-related area
- demonstrate an awareness of digital influence by creating an online social media campaign around an issue important to their chosen work-related area
- raise money for a charity, students can blog about how they organised, publicised and financed the event
- mentor younger students
- screenshot examples of specific competencies e.g. numeracy, ICT or practical mastery of a task.
Businesses and other organisations are engaging with social media and several digital platforms are becoming increasingly popular for recruitment. Why? Because they are free, they can reach a wide audience but they can also provide a two-way channel with young people who have the skills and qualities employers are looking for. So, are you ready to take this agenda forward?