Gopalan Rajagopalan: Social media for job prospects

For many of us who have been in employment for a number of years, the experience of job searching as a young candidate would have been a laborious process of reading through pages of newspaper adverts and posting application forms to prospective employers.

Facebook is an important platform for job searches. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

However, in this digital age, the recruitment environment has changed significantly. For example, recently it was reported that more than one in four Scottish businesses were reviewing the social media platforms of potential employees in an effort to find out more about them.

This move toward enabling social media platforms for business applications is one that is likely set to continue, especially if businesses are to more effectively engage future candidates and promote themselves.

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So does social media use help to improve career prospects? In a bid to find out, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) recently carried out a survey of how social media is used by young Europeans for both personal and work purposes.

The resulting report, titled Social Media is Serious Business: A view from European Youth, found that for the generation of young Europeans who have grown up immersed in digital technology, who TCS have named Generation Direct, social media is far more than just a source of entertainment. They are using it to improve skills, boost business contacts and effect political change.

The good news is that candidates themselves are well ahead in their adoption of social media to enhance their employment and career prospects, and the report found that 46 per cent of respondents search for jobs on Facebook and 28 per cent use LinkedIn.

The research also reveals that businesses could better utilise the potential for internal and external communications, with platforms such as Facebook and Twitter proving popular promotion tools. In the workplace, social media is also shown to encourage collaboration and learning. Generation Direct’s communication and learning style is geared towards online networking, with use of tools such as YouTube to increase learning and Facebook-style platforms aiding ­collaboration and sharing of ideas.

Overall, the report shows that, despite some existing perceptions, sharing pictures, playing games and chatting is just a single channel of how social media is now used by young people, and in fact these are increasingly becoming the tools of choice to expand their ­professional opportunities, secure jobs, enhance their skills and create economic growth.

For businesses to adapt to the changing landscape, it’s clear we need to further embrace the power of social media platforms and investigate the opportunities these can bring to the workplace.

• Gopalan Rajagopalan is head of Tata Consultancy Services Scotland