UCL Researchers
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    The UCL Careers team use this Blog to share their ‘news and views’ about careers with you. You will find snippets about a whole range of career related issues, news from recruiters and links to interesting articles in the media.

    We hope you enjoy reading the Blog and will be inspired to tell us your views.

    If you want to suggest things that students and graduates might find helpful, please let us know – we want to hear from you.

    Karen Barnard – Head of UCL Careers

    UCL Careers is part of The Careers Group, University of London

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    Can Social Media Get You a Job?

    By S Donaldson, on 9 May 2016

    selfie picImage taken from Justien Van Zele

    Have you seen that new Scapchat filter that makes the bottom of your face really thin so you have a huge forehead and a teeny tiny pin mouth? Yeah, well that particular bit of social media probably isn’t going to help you get a job. But believe it or not the ol’ internet can be quite useful.

    Jobvite’s most recent Recruiter Nation survey shows that 92% of US employers use social media to support recruitment. This number is much lower, at only about 40%, in the UK. But that’s still a significant chunk of employers, and with a third of those surveyed planning to up their spend on social media recruitment, we reckon it’s worth a blog post.

    So here are a few things to keep in mind for maximising the career-potential of social media:

    Social media is an information goldmine

    You know how you can ‘like’ Justin Bieber on Facebook and ‘follow’ Kanye West’s latest rants on Twitter? Well you can do the same for lots of employers too. And it doesn’t really matter which industry you’re into either. Organisations have twitter accounts, Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles to connect with clients and future employees, and larger organisations will often have accounts dedicated to just their graduate schemes.

    You’ll find vacancy, event and deadline details through these channels, and they’ll also help you increase your ‘commercial awareness’, that elusive competency so many employers call for – which basically means that you understand how their company and the wider sector work. Joining relevant groups on LinkedIn or Facebook is another brilliant way to keep up to date with industry news.

    And it doesn’t stop there. You could actually contact people and ask some questions. Weird, right? But on LinkedIn it’s totally normal. Not just normal, it’s kind of the whole point, networking and such. There’s no better way to find out what it’s like to work in a certain role or organisation than by asking the people doing just that. It’ll help you determine which roles are right for you, and show motivation and initiative. There are even researcher-specific social networks you can join, such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu and Piirus, which make it easier to initiate collaborations and keep abreast of the latest research in your field.

    Importantly, although LinkedIn is great for making new contacts and may seem like the most ‘professional’ network (and it certainly appears to be in the US), 75% of UK recruiters report Facebook as their most popular channel for selecting candidates, with LinkedIn coming in third place after Twitter. So try not to view these platforms as simply ‘social’ social networks. For example, at UCL Careers we’re totally hip and down-with-the-kids and whatnot. We have a Facebook page and a general careers, researcher careers, graduate, and TalentBank twitter account. Follow us for details of our events programmes and to hear about job opportunities.

    Careers Facebook

     

    You can build yourself an ‘online brand’

    Just as you may use social media to build your awareness of employers, employers may do the same right back at you. Use this to your advantage. On the most direct end of the scale, we know some recruiters use LinkedIn to proactively contact people with desired skillsets. Make sure they don’t miss you by having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile which clearly states any solid desirable skills you possess, such as specific programming and spoken languages.

    But building an online brand can be a more nuanced process. 93% of US employers will check a candidate’s social media presence before bringing them in to interview. Although Jobvite’s UK employer survey didn’t address this exact question, wouldn’t you google someone you were about to interview? I sure would. The UK survey did tell us that 61% of recruiters would be more likely to re-think a hiring decision based on seeing positive content on a candidate’s social media.

    Jobvite pic

     

    Image taken from The Jobvite UK Social Recrutiment Survey 2015

    So give yourself a google. What do you find? Is it easy to locate your social media profiles? And do they speak to your target employers? Hopefully you’ve joined relevant interest groups and followed key accounts (see section above), but why not comment on posts or post something interesting yourself? Producing relevant content for blogs or student newspapers, or even making your own website to showcase your work (especially if you’re a creative) can also be a great way of improving the employability of your Google results. Here are a few nice examples of researchers going the extra mile and creating websites: Dr Nadine Muller, Professor Andy Miah, STEMwomen. Dr Muller’s is doubly useful as she often writes about academic careers.

     

    An online brand isn’t always a good thing!

    Nothing in this kooky mixed-up world of ours is perfect. And the internet is no different. The wrong kind of online brand can be a difficult thing to live down. Social media has had disastrous employment consequences for some. To name but a few examples, Justine Sacco and Paris Brown lost their jobs, and Psychology academic Professor Geoffrey Miller put his at risk, because they posted misjudged tweets.

    These stories of social media woe hit the headlines, but there are subtler ways your online brand could be received badly. Remember how that employer you’ve contacted is probably going to google you? And how great it will be if they find a really positive professional online presence? Well Jobvite’s survey tells us it works both ways. 65% of UK employers will judge you negatively if your online profiles contain references to marijuana use, 55% if you mess up your spelling and grammar, and 46% if they see snaps of you drinking alcohol. US employers are even more judgemental, with those figures at 75%, 72% and 54% respectively!

    To make matters worse, a third of UK employers hate the humble selfie, that staple of social media! So what can you do? Short of completely taking all of the ‘social’ out of social media, you can get to know your privacy settings. Just because you have selfies and pictures at parties on your Facebook profile doesn’t mean they have to be publicly viewable. Another option would be to consider using a pseudonym for your more ‘fun’ profiles to prevent them coming up in your Google results.

    I hope that hasn’t put you off the internet altogether! If you need more help look out for social media workshops in our events schedule, or have a careers consultant look over your LinkedIn profile in a one-to-one appointment.

     

    Top tips for building research independence

    By S Donaldson, on 10 March 2016

    building blocksHave you seen the new guest blog about how to demonstrate research independence on Piirus.ac.uk? It was published today and it may be the best guest blog a guestblogger has ever blogged!

    Ok. So we wrote the guest blog. But if you’re hoping to build a career in academia, you’re going to want to show funding bodies and academic recruiters that you’re an independent researcher. So maybe check out these tips on how to do just that. And if you’re a UCL PhD or researcher who wants more guidance on this, you can book onto our workshops or one-to-one careers sessions.

     

    Photo from Derek Bridges.

    6 networking tips that work for me

    By S Donaldson, on 6 November 2015

    network 2 Image from Andy Lamb

    Networking is important. It just is. But it can also be painful.

    The below networking tips have helped me, so hopefully they’ll also help people who are a bit like me. But are you like me? Do you feel social awkwardness acutely and do everything in your power to avoid it? Do you enjoy spending time with humans, but also hate meeting new ones? Do you cringe at the thought of entering a room packed with strangers, with the aim of ‘selling yourself’? If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the above, these tips could ease your pain:

    1) Have a purpose

    Have a reason for being somewhere that isn’t simply ‘networking’. There’s nothing I find more excruciatingly awkward than milling about with a glass of wine surrounded by people I don’t know. I just end up leaving early. But if I’m actually doing something, then I find it much easier to talk to strangers, get to know people, and pick up useful contacts.

    You could see this as a ‘planned happenstance’ approach to networking – put yourself out there, get involved with things, and the networking is likely to just happen without you really noticing. For me, this has meant signing up for a course where I’d meet people in a certain sector, or volunteering at relevant events. Sometimes these events have included one of those dreaded ‘networking sessions’, which always feel far less awkward if I’ve been part of the team organising them.

    2) Latch on to a good networker

    Like it or not, it’s not always possible to ‘have a purpose’. Sometimes attending actual networking events is part of life. And it can yield results. I find networking events more productive and less terrible if I attend with a natural-born networker. The intense schmoozing might make you feel uncomfortable at times, but the good networker will ensure they (and, because you are together, also you) talk to lots of key people, and their social skills should make the whole affair less awkward for everyone.

    3) Don’t bring the whole gang

    While attending a networking session or signing up for a course with one other person (hopefully a fantastic networker – see tip 2) can give you the confidence to talk to new people, bringing a big group along is likely to be counterproductive. Enjoying complimentary drinks with friends at conferences or networking sessions is fabulous in its own way, but you probably won’t get much networking done!

    4) Be curious

    Networking events can inflict a pressure to be interesting. But it’s better (and easier) to concentrate on being interested. Sure, you should try to swot up on relevant topics and issues to do with your particular sector/company of interest, and it’s sensible to have a short elevator pitch about yourself prepared. But in reality, most people quite like to talk about themselves, and they like people who let them do it. So if you ask lots of questions and seem genuinely engaged you’re likely to build rapport, and in turn networks.

    5) Don’t expect too much

    Network 3Image from Sean MacEntee

    …or at least not too much too soon. Networking is great for your career. But if you go into each networking event expecting a promotion, you’ll be often disappointed. And if you harass everyone you meet for a job, you’ll be often avoided.

    Asking questions people can easily answer (a la tip 4) is a good start. If you come away from an event having learned about someone’s career path or what it’s like to work in a particular company, then you’ve acquired valuable knowledge for your career thinking and applications. And remember networking can be a long game. Although it might not be immediately obvious how someone can help you (or how you might help them!), building your networks is likely to pay off in the end.

    6) Follow up

    When you meet someone at an event try to follow the link up within a week. I have a friend who likes to send a small gift to new contacts. Although it works wonderfully well for her (it’s how she and I became friends), most people can’t pull it off without seeming creepy, so a brief email or LinkedIn request should suffice. It can be nice to remind them of the conversation you had, and perhaps even send them a link to something they might find interesting. This keeps the contact warm, increasing the chances they’ll remember and think well of you, and decreasing the chances you’ll feel awkward when you contact them in the future.

    Originally published on The Careers Group’s Get Hired blog.

    Networking opportunity at UCL celebrating women in STEMM

    By S Donaldson, on 21 October 2015

    Rosalind FranklinThe Rosalind Franklin Appathon launches next week – a national app competition to empower and recognise women as leaders in STEMM. In advance of the launch, a networking reception will be held following the UCL/Rosetrees Interdisciplinary Symposium on Thursday 22nd October, from 16.20 in the Wilkins Main Quad – North Side, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT.

    It’s open to all – so just pop along on the day! More details here

     

    Image from Christian Luts