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Optimise your online presence for employment opportunities

by sensie
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Unemployment in Ghana is a major policy concern and has dominated national discourse since time immemorial. In fact, according to a World Bank report dated 1st July 2022: “Ghana’s youth has been growing rapidly and now represents 36 percent of the population. The economy’s strong growth performance of the past 30 years has however not delivered enough jobs for them. The National Population Census established that in 2021 approximately three-quarters of unemployed adults were ‘young’.” While governments have created multiple policies and programmes to address youth unemployment over the years, the many programmes aimed at helping them have often fallen short of the massive needs.

Recently, the Future Leaders Network (FLN) Ghana – an employee resource group of a renowned Bank`s Diversity and Inclusion programme who are focussed on growing young leaders – extended an invitation for me to become one of their resource persons for a programme dubbed ‘Enhancing Students’ Employability Skills’. I spent some time delving into this topic, because even though there is a general slowdown o recruitment in certain sectors and areas, I still felt opportunity abounded for the youth who want to go an extra mile to make it in their job-hunt ambitions.

While at the University of Ghana, Legon, Accra in 2008, I recall vividly that I was in Commonwealth Hall when I heard Standard Chartered Bank Ghana Plc had come to campus one fine Saturday morning. Their objective was to instantly interview students and select them for the next batch of National Service placement. I hurriedly descended from Commonwealth Hall, Room A 17, printed my Curriculum Vitae (CV) at the then Information Communication Telecommunication (ICT) laboratory (near the then School Administration) and took part in that crucial exercise. The rest is history. That was the turning point for me as a young undergraduate who was preparing to leave campus and hit the job market. Fast forward, I have been working with this institution for the last 14 years.

Today, the job market and world of work have evolved.  Very few companies visit the various campuses to offer such opportunities; and if they do, only a few get such opportunities to participate in. This leaves most students a bit worried about their fate after school. Record has it that several National Services persons were deployed in 2021, and the number is expected to increase considering the student intake. The number or service personnel deployed per year will not go down any time soon.  This surge in numbers without the requisite available jobs therefore requires a new paradigm-shift for students and graduates who are looking at securing jobs in this competitive environment.

Social Media`s Impact

The impact of social media today must not be underestimated. I chanced on a January 2022 Global Overview Report published by Datareportal that estimated more than half of the world now uses media (58.4%). About 4.62 billion people around the world now use social media, and 424 million new users have come online within the last 12 months. The average daily time spent using social media is 2 hours and 27 minutes. Those numbers will have increased by now, considering that data usage has been one of the fastest growth areas amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, there are several social media platforms available for use depending on individual choices. Some of the notable ones are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn etc. The latest data also show that the fastest-growing social network is TikTok. The ByteDance-owned company first made headlines for its rapid growth when it launched in 2018.

That said, let me stick to the professional and business side of social media. Let me discuss how one can leverage on a LinkedIn presence to increase their chances of gaining employment.

Are you on LinkedIn?

Established in 2002, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the Internet. You can use LinkedIn to find the right job or internship, connect and strengthen professional relationships, and learn the skills you need to succeed in your career. Like any social media platform, you can access LinkedIn from a desktop, LinkedIn mobile app, mobile web experience, or the LinkedIn Lite Android mobile app.

The amazing thing is that a complete LinkedIn profile can help you connect with opportunities by showcasing your unique professional story through experience, skills and education. If you are someone like me, you can also use LinkedIn to organise offline events, join groups, write articles, post photos and videos, and more. LinkedIn offers a free, basic membership to anyone who wants to create and maintain a professional profile online

In the past.  It used to be a large portal where people went to search for their next jobs and advanced their careers. Now, it has become a primarily a content consumption platform where people go to consume content that resonates with them. The LinkedIn platform affords one the opportunity to connect with relevant professionals, get news that may be relevant to them, and be informed about products and services. In effect, business decision-makers go on the platform to connect with opportunity.

I keep telling people that I have gained so much benefit over the years from using social media effectively. The result of my effectively using social media is evident. In 2015, I thought I’d had enough from my employer and needed a new challenge. Just about the same time, a recruiter approached me on LinkedIn for a new role in a different financial institution. As destiny would have it, I didn’t object and decided to give it a try.

Thankfully I went through the process and got the role. I moved to that new bank and spent 3.5 years as Assistant President, Cash Management Sales within Corporate and Investment Banking Business Functions. I’m sure I am not the only person who has immensely benefitted from such a platform, and I am also sure there are many people out there who have also taken advantage of it to get roles.

How to optimise your online presence

#1 Create a Profile: First and foremost, the most important thing to do, in my view, is create and have a profile that helps you stand out from the crowd. Just like any other social media platform, a complete LinkedIn profile will summarise your professional experience for your connections, current and future employers, and recruiters. Through your profile, you can showcase your professional life, milestones, skills and interests.

Picture: Sample LinkedIn profile-for emphasis purpose 

Make sure that your Job information is up to date: Research has shown that LinkedIn members who have up-to-date work information listed on their profile receive, on average, five times more connection requests and eight times more profile views. Importantly, you need to add details of academic achievements – e.g. prestigious scholarships attained, and professional accreditation such as CFA, ACCA and CA. etc.

#2 Build your network: Networking is the act or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. Your network plays a crucial part in unlocking the power of LinkedIn. It’ll help you understand what is happening in your industry and professional circle. You can begin by adding your family, friends, past or current classmates and co-workers to your network.

You can also follow people, companies or topics. You can use the LinkedIn Events feature to create and join professional Events such as online workshops, seminars, sales and marketing Events, networking Events and more. You can follow influencers such as Richard Branson, Tony O. Elumelu and Bridget Hyachinth etc., who have millions of followers and create value contents on their profiles. With over 7,500 connections, I desire reaching up to 10,000 by the end of 2022.

#3 Participate in Conversion: It is not enough to create a profile and connect with people. You also need to and can easily participate in conversations on LinkedIn. Participating in conversations allows you to share your perspective on relevant issues and topics with others. You can like and comment on posts and articles on LinkedIn. You can create or join LinkedIn Groups to connect and grow with members who share your interests, experiences or aspirations. You can also use a set of lightweight expressions, called LinkedIn reactions, to easily communicate with your network.

#3 Post Content: Millions of members come to LinkedIn every day to connect, learn and share. You can empower and educate your professional circle with the content you post on LinkedIn. You can also share your thoughts and ideas with LinkedIn members by using the share box

Dos and Don’ts for Posting

This is where I have a big concern! It is important to understand that social media platforms are different, and how each platform functions is also different. Facebook is not the same as LinkedIn. Some of the expected dos on LinkedIn are that your content should be sharp and to the point. Posts must also be relevant to one’s network. Also, remember to use key stats or data to attract attention (verify the facts beforehand); or engage by asking a question or opinion.

Personally, I don’t read long messages. To receive views, stick to about 150 characters. Remember, always add a link to more information – and don’t forget to upload a professional image of yourself! Remain professional on your LinkedIn page and try to avoid lengthy posts; announcement without any relevant links for more information; personal shout-outs with no context; and posts without an image.

In summary, the world is changing and evolving at a much faster rate than expected. A lot of companies and multinationals have changed the status quo of accepting hard-copy CVs, and even if required may be for record-keeping purposes.

Securing a job in the 21st century has taken a different dimension; a lot of recruiters are now online, and a hard-copy curriculum vitae is no longer accepted by certain institutions. As a youth/student about to leave a tertiary institution – and even if you are in a current role looking to change roles, optimising your profile online has the propensity to help you obtain your next-level job. It’s time to take advantage of professional social media platforms and other portals which provide recruitment, so that you can get your dream job.

Thank you for reading.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are personal views and do not represent those of the media house or institution the writer works for.

About the writer

Carl is a Banking, Finance and Investment professional with an international bank in Ghana. Contact:  [email protected], Cell: +233 200301110

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