February 7, 2018

Gearing up for the workforce on social media

SINGAPORE: Career preparation workshops have long been part and parcel of most school programmes.

But with the growing importance of social media for branding and recruitment, educational institutions have revamped their career preparation courses to help students build up a professional digital footprint.  

On Tuesday (Jan 30), National University of Singapore (NUS) announced a new pilot programme that aims to help undergraduates to, among other things, develop a social media profile.

Career Catalyst, a two-modular credit programme, is offered to second- and third-year undergraduates across six faculties.

Among the 600 students enrolled in the course is third-year architecture student Ryan Leong, who hopes that the lessons will help develop his marketability to a broader spectrum of companies, through the use of a well-crafted online portfolio.

“Career catalyst has allowed us to develop viable profiles that are highly sought after by recruiters. They are helping us develop a professional image such as by taking a professional photo that can be used on our profiles. And also crafting clear summaries that will best showcase our abilities and skills,” Ryan added.

While career guidance workshops are generally held on an ad-hoc basis, Career Catalyst is held over a span of 12 weeks.

And more than just teaching basic skills in resume writing, the course gears students up to tackle a digitised future.

Course instructors encourage students to beef up online profiles on employment sites such as LinkedIn, as more recruiters are using them to search for potential candidates said Ryan Ang, NUS’s Career Advisory Head.

“We also tell them to be watchful of what goes online, especially on their social media websites, their profiles. We tell them the importance of maintaining a professional image because employers actually look at these profiles when the graduates are looking for a job,” he said.

Likewise, Singapore Polytechnic and Republic Polytechnic also offer career guidance modules that teach students how to craft an online presence on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

But industry insiders say the accessibility of social media platforms also comes with a host of other problems. These include discerning fake information and protecting company secrets.

Director of Corporate Services at Human Capital Singapore, David Ang, told Channel NewsAsia that graduates who are able to deal with such issues have an edge over those who do not.

“During interviews, employers would assess candidates on scenario-based questions; these include how they conduct themselves in cyberspace. If the candidate can maturely explain how he or she handles an online situation, then employers can better gauge their credibility,” he added.

Even after they are hired, Mr Ang said that young graduates still need to keep up to date with social media trends.

“There is a huge body of knowledge that young graduates should keep themselves informed as to what is happening around the world, because organisations and companies do expect that employees take advantage of what is happening around them, bring it back to the workplace and contextualise it.”

That said, Mr Ang affirmed that basic traits such as strong interpersonal skills, adaptability and a willingness to learn are still essential as older workers re-join the workforce and automation transforms the economy.