I gave a short presentation about how the real world views social media to visual comms students at North East Scotland College a couple of weeks ago. Most of the students are looking to build a career in the ‘creative industries’, with between one and three years of study ahead of them before they enter the workforce.

The thing that surprised me the most was how few of them had a linkedin profile. I think three hands went up in a room of about 80. Things were better for twitter, but not much.

CV only showing twitter handle

Here are the main points I made to the students to help them get that summer internship / placement / first job by making a better impression when a potential employer does the inevitable ‘social media due diligence’ search for them.

LinkedIn

  • Get a linkedIn and fill that thing out – make yourself findable
  • Call yourself a designer, developer, artist… whatever you want to be. I’d rather read “Designer, currently studying X at Y” than just the name of your course, or worse, “Supervisor at Funbar McGinties” with no mention of your studies / aspirations
  • Connect with everyone on your course, some of them will get jobs at great places that you want an introduction to, they can be your bedrock network for a long time to come.
  • Connect with people you meet through your course – like people that come in to give short presentations to class, your tutors, people you know on different courses.
  • Post and comment around your design interests, have an opinion, and be happy to share it.

Twitter

  • Don’t have a ‘jane-person’ and a ‘jane-designer’ account – just have ‘jane’. You’ll be more likely to keep it up, and more likely to come across as a rounded human.
  • Minimise the drunken rambling.
  • Limit your selfies, football commentary, X-factor blow by blow. Don’t swamp out everything else.
  • Talk about design, even if you don’t have anything ‘genius’ to say. Posting ‘wow I just discovered the Braun guy’ is fine.
  • Share new things you find.
  • Talk with people – not at them – it helps you to verbalise your thoughts.

All of this makes me happy when I see a CV coming into the office. It shows me that the person cares about what they do. Even if they aren’t making too much sense, they are engaged with the subject.

When I ask why people haven’t followed some of these the most common answer is a combination of not wanting to put themselves out there, fearing criticism, and a perfectionist instinct that they should only show their most awesome work/ thoughts/ links.

Fight that! Put things out there. If your intentions are good, then good people overlook mistakes. Haters gonna hate, forget the haters.

Cynical?

If some of this sounds cynical it’s because it probably is.

Some people will rail against the ‘connect with the world’ strategy on LinkedIn. But this is a competitive industry, where your connections through friends and family can be more important than hard work and talent in securing young people their first gig.

If I can arm some folk with tactics to beat that system I’ll be delighted – even if it does involve sidestepping some linkedIn ettiquette.