How to network and plan for the future: Part 2

In the first part of our interview with Ntsoaki, we discussed how you can network now that we can no longer meet face-to-face and best practises when it comes to trying to connect with people via LinkedIn. 

Following on from that conversation, here are some tips on how to plan for the future despite the current uncertainties as to what shape that might take.  

The modern CV 

With the increasing importance of digital channels in the graduate recruitment landscape and the move away from more traditional hiring methods, are CV’s still as important as ever? 

‘I would always say base your CV on your LinkedIn profile. Whenever you apply for a job you need to spend time modifying that CV to ensure that all your key experiences are there so that you can be selected as a suitable candidate for the role because you meet the criteria. LinkedIn, on the other hand, allows you to put up everything that you have done. Your CV is always changing whereas you are always adding to your digital channels. We always advise students to have no more than two pages because you’re unlikely to have too much work experience so anything over two pages is likely just unnecessary.’ 

The virtual meetings 

Whether you are trying to upskill through an online course or webinar, or you have a virtual interview on the horizon, digital platforms have created ways for us to remain engaged. 

So how do you get involved constructively with a webinar or make the most of your virtual interview? 

 “At a webinar, I always wonder myself, should I say something, or shouldn’t I? The only thing I can say is that, make sure when you are joining a webinar that you have all the information. Make sure you understand the topic that is going to be discussed and it’s always good to know who is delivering the webinar. You might be able to look at their career and connect with them on LinkedIn beforehand – you might be able to come up with a question because of that. At the start introduce yourself, a little bit about who you are, where you’re working and where you’re from. You can then build from there. If there is anyone that you find interesting who is going to be attending the webinar, use question relating to something interesting they raised as a way of sending a connection request because you can add a note when you’re connecting. That’s a way to start a conversation. Set yourself one tiny little goal for each webinar and you can build your knowledge and network that way.” 

What tips do you have for anyone who has a video interview to make the most of it and make the best possible impression? 

“Do a practice one with a friend so you can make sure that your video is clear, and you can see what’s behind you. Make sure you’re fully dressed! First impressions matter and there’s nothing worse than wearing a dress and then wearing some tracksuit bottoms or pyjamas and then standing up mid-frame. Treat it as a real interview. Make sure that if you are living in a house with other people that they’re aware of the time that your video interview is taking place, so they will know to be quiet as well. Ensure that you have located a room to give yourself enough time to prepare. Have a glass of water on the side. If an interviewer asks you a question and you have a couple of seconds where your mind just draws a blank despite all your preparation, taking a sip of water and asking them to rephrase the question gives yourself that little bit of time to breath so that you can come up with an appropriate answer. Because you have more time to prepare than normal, if there is something you’re lacking from a skill-set perspective, start working on it. Even if you have  only 10% of it completed by the time your interview takes place, it showcases your hard work ethic, your commitment and attitude towards ongoing learning.” 

Avoid social media pitfalls 

Now that you will have more time than usual to prepare for interviews, the questions you are asked might be a little more tricky than usual, so make time to prepare for them. It is also useful to take this time to go through your social media accounts and make sure there is nothing on there that could be misconstrued or may have a negative impact on your employability. 

So, what other social media faux pas should students avoid on other platforms? (now that recruiters can’t meet people, they may be more likely to go through other social media platforms) 

“Check your social media accounts and make sure that there is nothing there that is going to come across as conflicting or confrontational. I would take on a strategy and approach it bit by bit. Obviously, for your Facebook, you might be going back through years and years so delete a couple of images or photos that you might not want out there. Once you have taken down anything that can be construed as inappropriate, connect with employers on social media. Always make sure that you’re highlighting or putting up things that you are getting actively involved in. If you are an avid Instagram user and you use it for personal use, make sure it’s on private. Make sure you’re checking your settings regarding what can be seen from the outside. Even ask a friend to have a look at your profile to see if there is anything there that they might see as inappropriate, to get a different perspective.” 

The time is now 

Networking is something that you will build throughout your career so is it more important than ever to use this time to start making connections, research and prepare for your future? 

“Absolutely. Now is the time to maybe connect with contacts you might have lost touch with as you changed roles. Research what Covid-19 means for your industry and start researching what your new way of working will be and make sure that you are as best prepared for it as you can be. Identify skills and resources you think will be valuable post-pandemic and if you already have some of them make sure to highlight them. 

Understandably there is a lot of pessimism and uncertainty in the world right now but as Ntsoaki says, there is a future and you can begin to prepare for it. By taking on board the information and utilising some of this advice, you can emerge from this pandemic as prepared as you can possibly be to launch your graduate career.  

Look out for more information and advice throughout the virtual careers week as there will be plenty of panel discussions, video interviews, blog posts and more delivered through our virtual careers platform. Find out more here 

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