By Adelaide Tshabalala, Head of Digital Marketing at Hill+Knowlton South Africa
In a country where countless young South Africans take to sharing highlights on various social media platforms on a daily basis, we have to ask ourselves, are they spending enough time crafting a professional image in today’s ‘always on’ digital world? While apps like Instagram, TikTok and Twitter are crucial platforms for content creation, self-expression and information sharing, professional social media sites, such as LinkedIn, serve an exceptionally important role in aiding young South Africans to find potential job opportunities.
South Africa’s expanded youth unemployment rate was sitting at 43.2% as of the first quarter of this year, marking a 0.6% increase in comparison to the previous quarter. Equally alarming is that the official university graduate unemployment rate stood at over 9% over the same period. However, something that is never really emphasised for these young people is the importance of networking. There is an age-old saying that goes “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,”and while the first part is nowhere near true, the second phrase is relevant for the job market. There are thousands of skilled South African youth, but one of the main issues they face is not knowing where to look for the types of jobs that would suit them best or who can help them get these jobs.
As a platform that is created with the intention of empowering people all around the world to network with business professionals, LinkedIn offers young South Africans the oppportunity to actively seek and connect with those who might bring them potential job opportunities. These can be more formal jobs or even potential partnerships for SME start-ups. However, in order to make these types of connections, young South Africans need to ensure that they are putting their best foot forward on the platform by crafting a unique, professional profile that speaks not only to who they are as a person, but also what they can offer the business world.
Here are a few tips for young South Africans wanting to unlock the power of networking and find more job opportunities by leveraging LinkedIn.
· The right tool for the right job
LinkedIn is a useful tool to help young people find jobs a lot faster because most hiring managers, recruiters and talent acquisition specialists actively use the platform on a daily basis to scout for new talent. Recent reports indicate that over 87% of recruiters find LinkedIn to be the most effective tool when vetting candidates during the interviewing and hiring process. Having an active and well-put together LinkedIn profile will undoubtedly increase the chances of your profile being discovered by various companies. Potential employers will often contact job seekers directly if they think you will be a good fit for their organisation, instead of you having to contact each company individually.
· A key way to build credibility
A well-written LinkedIn profile also allows you to build some online credibility and trustworthiness, which is key to establishing yourself as a potential employee. Every time a recruiter makes contact, you can be sure that they have taken the time to look at your profile in detail. However, building this credibility also means responding to connection requests, liking posts, sharing your opinion, and responding to messages. It’s great to have a strong profile, but it’s also critical that you use the platform to its best advantage to achieve success and find great networking opportunities.
· Keeping abreast of industry news
Irrespective of what industry you are in or want to be in, if you have the right kind of connections on LinkedIn (i.e. industry leaders and pioneers), you will be able to keep up-to-date with the latest news and trends that are shaping and defining the industries you want to work in. In this sense, LinkedIn can be regarded as an online news site, and the content you receive is tailored specifically to your job interests, skills and experience. This in turn will enable you to comment insightfully on relevant issues during job interviews, which will illustrate to potential employers that you are someone who goes out of their way to learn as much as possible about the space you are in.
We know that finding a job can be difficult and that is why you need to make use of every tool at your disposal. Getting acquainted with the opportunities LinkedIn can offer your career is a great step to landing that job.