How do young people use social media to look for jobs?

April 15th, 2014 by Reprezent | Social

Currently, nearly 80% of young people aged 15 – 24 in the UK use social media. They visit social networking sites on a daily basis for various reasons including connecting with people and expressing their views. In particular, a number of young people we spoke to said that social media has become their primary source of up-to-date information including daily news and events.

So, what does this mean when it comes to job seeking?

Reprezent is a youth engagement social enterprise with the main aim of empowering disadvantaged young people to have a stronger voice in society; whether that’s discussing youth issues with policy makers, developing communication and interview skills get a job or promoting the latest musical talents.

We run London’s only youth-led radio station, Reprezent 107.3FM, which has a London-wide reach and an audience of over 120,000 young people. Alongside the station we deliver a youth media training programme to up to 400 young people a year, teaching speaking, listening, literacy, numeracy and employability skills.

In 2012 Reprezent was chosen to become a Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneer. The Pioneer Programme supported us with a dedicated team who helped develop new business models, improve branding and communication and helped demonstrate our social impact more effectively. Deloitte also offered us invaluable support and advice on positioning ourselves in the corporate and technology sector.

Last December we ran a project with young people to explore what their experiences were when finding a job. We identified some of the difficulties young people faced and created a radio show where industry experts and young people had the opportunity to share their views on youth unemployment. From this initial consultation, we found out that not much study has been carried out on how young people use different platforms including social media to look for work.

Reprezent spoke with 110 young people to find out how much young people were making use of social media to look for employment opportunities. We found that:

  • 80% of 18 – 24 year olds have used social media to look for work.
  • 1 in 6 visited social media first when searching for employment opportunities.
  • Twitter was the most popular form of social media for this purpose.

Nick (17) from Greenwich, describing social media’s user-friendliness as one of its strengths for job searching, said:
“The way hashtags are used...it makes it easier to navigate and find a wider range of opportunities. Twitter is in some sense better than Google in terms of searching. Your search results are more local like #InternshipLondon.” 

Like Nick, a number of young people in the study felt that it was easier and more convenient to use social media to look for work as it was an integral part of their daily life. In addition, due to built-in sharing features like Twitter’s retweet and Facebook’s share, job vacancies on social networking sites travel further and  young people have more chances of hearing about them.

We also discovered a new strategy developed by some young people to optimise their job search. Sonia (22) from Brixton explained how she uses Twitter:
“I don’t have a LinkedIn account yet because I don’t feel like I have enough experience to create one…but I use Twitter a lot to look for jobs. There is an area on Twitter where you can set up private lists which can only be accessed by yourself. I created a couple of lists and one of them is used to follow job vacancies. On that list, I included all the Twitter accounts that tweet about jobs I’m interested in. I get notifications on my mobile when new opportunities are tweeted on the list. Beyond its social aspect, Twitter is a very good device for constant updates.”

This strategy helps young people in two ways: firstly, they can amalgamate opportunities advertised by different recruitment agencies and companies, and secondly, by creating separate lists, they can avoid job opportunities getting lost among other information.

These are only a few examples of how young people have created new ways of looking for opportunities using social media. A few young people in the study mentioned that social media was also offering an interactive space where they could directly engage and get advice from industry experts.

“When using social media, it’s easy to find a direct link to the field you would like to get into. There is always helpful advice on hand from experienced professionals or people who have been in the same situation as you. You can get a piece of advice from miles away.” (Natalie, 16, Lambeth)  

Our study shows that for its connectivity, immediacy and a plethora of up-to-date opportunities, social media is creating a unique platform for young people to embark on their journey into employment.

About Reprezent
Reprezent is a youth engagement social enterprise that offers broadcast, consultation and training services. Reprezent works with organisations, companies and the government to reach out and engage with young Londoners. We run London’s only youth-led radio station, Reprezent 107.3FM, which gives us access to large groups of young people from across the capital. Reprezent was one of the Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers in 2012.

About the report
This report provides an insight into the challenges young people face in searching for jobs and the way they use social media to look for work. 110 young people from South East and East London contributed their views through focus groups, interviews and surveys. Based on the findings, we make recommendations to schools, career advisers, online job sites and companies in order to help young people’s successful transition into employment. To find out more about the report, click here.