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The Power of Social Media

This is a blog I wrote for the University of Warwick Careers blog back in August.  Thought it might be useful.

August 10, 2012

The power of social media

social mediaA guest post from Tripp Martin, Talent Acquisition Manager atEnterprise 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 theTargetjobs 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.

The secret to a truly outstanding CV

I have seen a lot of CVs in my career and there are a few that truly stand out to me.  Candidates don’t because he or she has a catchy profile statement or necessarily have the most experience (by the way, I completely agree with the TARGETjobs post recently (http://bitly.com/PU1oSX) about leaving off personal statements all together but that’s another topic really).

In my opinion, the handfull of CVs that stand out were exceptional due to one very simple thing:  demonstration of measurable business impact.

What is measurable business impact?

I don’t care what business or organisation you are applying for, most all organisations care about (or should care about) four simple things:

1.People (employees)

2.Customer Service

3. Growth

4. Profitability (Revenue/Cost Control).

The majority of CVs that I see do a reasonable  job of demonstrating the ability to accomplish some of these tasks.  Most candidates can look at a job description that is full of tasks and then list off the things he/she accomplished for each job role.  The CV in essence looks like a big job description.

Most employers that I know are looking for dynamic and innovative individuals who have a track record of making a measurable business impact.   In my opinion, employers are looking for results.  Almost every task you accomplish within organisations impacts one of these four areas.  I believe your goal should be to highlight how you have impacted people, customers, growth, and profits.

Don’t just state the what – give the why!

Here is a real life example of exactly what I mean.  I have seen CVs for two different candidates who have worked at the same company doing the exact same job role.   Candidate 1 stated the following under his/her work experience:

  • Assessment and evaluations of team members performance

Candidate 1 has demonstrated a task that he/she did in a past job role.  Candidate 2 took a slightly different approach:

  • Created and implemented monthly performance management meetings over a twelve month period resulting in a 10% increase in retention, a 20% increase in revenue, and a decrease in customer complaints

Although both candidates did the same task, Candidate 2 has clearly demonstrated the results that were achieved by accomplishing the task.  Candidate 1 just showed the ‘what’.  Candidate 2 performed the same ‘what’ yet also clearly and succinctly demonstrates the ‘why’ and the impact they he/she made on the business.

It’s all about demonstrating measurable impact

I highly recommend to anyone applying for careers to write down on a blank sheet of paper as many accomplishments and achievements as possible.  Not just the task but the results achieved by doing the task.  It makes it much easier when you are putting your CV together.

I recommend looking over your own CV and if you cannot clearly see where you made a business impact on employee development, customer service, business growth, or profitability– I think you may have missed the mark.

Tripp Martin is a career coach and talent development specialist based at Aston Business School in Birmingham, UK.

No question is too tough for the Tripp Adviser.