Why Social Media is the Number One Tool for Career Development – Callum Elson

Social Media platforms, that were once the arch-enemy of academia, have grown & developed into the number one tool for career development. Check out today’s guest blog, written by Callum Elson, a Co-Founder at Scientistt, to find out more about how this change occurred and to find out how you can use Social media to really help you develop your career for the better!

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Without further ado, here is Callum Elson  with “Why Social Media is the Number One Tool for Career Development”:

Once the arch-enemy of academia, social media is now a researcher’s best friend. Of course, progressive attitudes towards virtual networking have been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic – but this is something that has been brewing for a while.

For many, a PhD is the pinnacle of academic achievement. In the UK, the number of doctorates has rapidly increased over the last decade – with holders openly valued for their vital contribution to industrial and economic performance of the nation. No doubt, the expansion of doctoral education brings many rich benefits to the academic sector, a factor that has been highlighted more than ever in the search for a Covid-19 vaccine. However, the increasing number of PhDs brings to light several questions; are there sufficient employment opportunities outside of academia? And, how can we access these ‘alternative’ careers? Well, social media seems to be the answer. 

This is why I think social networking is a must for academics in 2021:

A study from Vitae titled ‘What do Researchers want to do?’, found that “only around a third of 4,500 current postgraduate researchers had definite ideas about their future careers, and about a fifth had little or no idea.”. Despite the best efforts of universities, it’s generally accepted that the career guidance offered to PhD students is far below that given to undergraduates. This can be partly be explained by the unique position of researchers, both in their professional status and perceived understanding of their forward planning. In reality, career prospects outside of academia are relatively unknown, difficult to find, stigmatised as a backward step and often involve recruitment processes that lack transparency. This is where the digital-age starts changing things. 

Popular Twitter accounts such as Chris Cornthwaite and Career Conversations have made huge leaps in educating an academic audience on the realms of possibility outside of their current understanding. Additionally, they have made public the realities of ‘industry’ life and techniques on how the online world can be used to gain a greater awareness of how PhDs can use their unique skills elsewhere. Individuals such as Sophie Prosolek and Zoe Ayres are also working hard to support career-focused accounts through enhanced attention on mental health, highlighting the real struggles that academics can face and breaking down the stigma that everything should be easy. 

Similarly, networking platform Scientistt (of which I am heavily involved with) serves to bring together resources that are segmented across the internet, such as job boards and event calendars. In addition, the free community takes in a diverse range of people – allowing a rich exchange of different perspectives and experiences, creating greater transparency into research life. Despite my personal bias, I’d thoroughly encourage you to create a profile and start networking here. 

Specifics aside, the general benefits of having an online presence in today’s climate are vast. This can’t be stressed enough for career development. There is no guarantee that social media will get you a job – but there is no doubt at all that it can help grow your awareness of career opportunities and connect with people that can give you unique insights. 

This is all good in theory, but what practical aspects can you takeaway: 

  • Build an online presence. This sounds fancy, but it really isn’t. Create a free social networking profile and start by connecting with people you know in person & following pages or role models that you find interesting. The rest will come in time! 
  • Be realistic. Despite my raving review, social media won’t solve all of your dilemmas. Use a wide range of sources for career information, and don’t neglect the traditional recruitment processes – your CV is still king. 
  • Network is net-worth. Like it or not, it’s as much about who you know as it is what you know. On personal and professional grounds, building a strong network of like minded and diverse individuals is crucial to development. 

So there you have it. Social media might be the traditional enemy of academia – but it certainly won’t be for much longer. Job opportunities, academic collaborations and chances for personal development all have their place somewhere in the online space – it’s just finding out where they sit best. At Scientistt, we’re building one easy-to-use platform to please academics and institutions alike. Create your free profile and start working towards your future today! 

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/_scientistt

Thank you all for reading today’s blog! What do you think? Have you ever used Social Media as a way to develop your career? What do you think the future of Social Media platforms is going to look like? Do you think the use of Social Media has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Before we finish today’s post, I want to say a massive thank you to Callum for writing such a good blog! I really enjoyed reading it, and I found that I learnt loads as I went through. Be sure to check out Callum and Scientistt if you have not already, you won’t be disappointed!

Thank you all for reading and I hope you have a great day!

James Sweeney

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