IT Services's blog posts tagged with 'sussex'

Make the most of LinkedIn

Jun

12

Social media that works for you

transparent-Linkedin-logo-iconIt might be that you’ve just graduated or that the idea of approaching your final year is making you think about what’s going to come next.   Or maybe you’re considering graduate opportunities, summer internships and doing what you can to begin shaping your post-university career.  You might be well-versed with Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, but LinkedIn may just be hovering around in your peripheral vision. Perhaps you’ve set up a profile already, but it’s lying dormant and underused.  Because let’s face it, LinkedIn is many things, but it’s not much fun.  It’s not where you go to see a string of photos of friends embarrassing themselves and each other, or to pass round the latest and greatest viral video.

Looking through your homepage on LinkedIn, (if you’re not doing it right, that is) is like the worst staff meeting EVER.  It’s full of professional backpatting, and the most flagrant and obtuse display of credentials and achievements that you can hope to thumb through during a toilet break.  But used well, LinkedIn can really become a very useful and active partner in the shaping of your future career.  Now that most companies have a very active LinkedIn presence (it’s the third most visited social media network, after Facebook and Twitter) it’s a great place to focus on your interests in a way that could hook you up with future employers.

What’s it for?

For a moment let’s pretend you’ve not heard of LinkedIn at all yet.  It’s basically Facebook but it operates in a purely professional realm.  It puts the emphasis on the networking of the social network; it’s about making professional contacts and reinforcing those you’ve already made.  It’s to see who your existing contacts know and who they might be able to introduce you to, and slowly but surely, it’s becoming a really useful, and potentially quite exciting, tool for job hunting.  Many companies are advertising positions on LinkedIn and you can apply to these directly through your profile.  Not only that, but recruitment agencies and headhunters are on the prowl for people who fit their spec for vacancies.  If you use your LinkedIn profile well, the chances are your next job may just come to you.

Your Profile

Your profile isn’t just your profile; it’s your online CV.  Present it well, as you’d like to put yourself across to future employers.  This doesn’t mean be drab and serious – nobody wants to have dull colleagues – but it’s not the best place for wacky profile shots.  Like the picture, the tenor of your profile should be professional, for the most part, but also engaging.

One recently added feature called Resume Builder takes all the information from your profile and, using one of several available templates, turns it into a PDF version of a CV.  How good is that?!  I for one hate the constant CV updating, the writing in of dates and responsibilities and grades, and to have something which does it for me is a dream come true.  However, it’s not perfect yet. Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 13.34.08 I think it’s a shame that you can put things like interests, causes and volunteer experience on your LinkedIn profile but these don’t (at the moment) show up on the CV.  Also, it’s very literal in the translation of your profile to a CV so make sure you check the formatting thoroughly.  I’m not sure that this tool is quite well developed enough to *completely* make CV-writing a thing of the past, but with a few tweaks it may well be.  Basically, what I’m saying is don’t rely on it 100% just yet, but keep checking back for updates.

Active profiles will attract the most attention, but remember to keep any posts you make relevant to your fields of interest.  With the feed becoming more similar to your standard Facebook view with our trusted friends “like,” “comment” and “share” accompanying each post, people are getting frowned upon for sharing more trivial posts, those that are more suitable for a Facebook feed and that detract from the professional focus of the site.  To post a cheesy and emotive career-centric motivational quote may just make the grade, but to post statuses on evening-time escapades and videos of babies giggling … well, it’s just not good LinkedIn etiquette.

Putting yourself out there

The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can really interact with and immerse yourself in the field of employment that you’d like to move into.  You want to work in TV?  Well, there are many ways on LinkedIn of connecting with people who already do.

Whilst some people may allow you to “connect” with them without , others you may be able to “follow” instead.  There is nothing stopping you – depending on their account settings – from directly contacting potential employers or people who you think might be a good connection for you – but be careful as LinkedIn doesn’t approve of people being too trigger-happy with the connect button.  You’ve only got a limited number (albeit 5000) of times you can connect with people, and you’re encouraged to only connect with people you actually know… but you can try circumnavigating this with a polite message about your interest and the reason for your connect request.

Another way to connect with people is to find and join groups that are relevant to your targeted area; again, using TV as an example, you can search in the Groups section for TV or Television, or be more specific such as TV editing, TV production and so on.  There will be a number of groups that are designated as only for established professionals, so if that’s not you yet, use the tools to refine the search to open groups only.  There’s no harm done by requesting to join the closed groups, though.  You’ll also find in most groups that there’s some sort of thread on which those who are happy to make new connections can say so, providing an arena for new, off-piste connections.

Finger on the pulse …

Influencers Q1_2014Yet another way to immerse yourself in the professional world of your potential future peers is to use the section of LinkedIn that’s called Pulse, which is currently nestled under the “Interests” tab.  Pulse is a publishing platform that’s a relatively new feature, and it acts simultaneously as a place to blog and get your own thoughts and ideas published as well as reading a vast array of articles written by other LinkedIn members in addition to articles from online news sites.  You can tailor your Pulse feed to your interests by choosing relevant topics to follow.  LinkedIn have their own selected board of “InFluencers” who used to be the only LinkedIn members who could contribute to this section of the site, but now it’s open to anyone and it’s a really great tool to get to grips with.  By posting thoughtful pieces of writing on Pulse, you exponentially increase your reach on LinkedIn; you can, again, really increase the attention you get from others in your field of interest.  And this works – a friend of mine has recently started publishing short articles and as a result, she’s actually getting more recruiters contacting her regarding potential employment opportunities.

Using LinkedIn well really is about being a go-getter – the contacts are out there and this network brings them all much, much closer.  It’s a great time to sign up as well, as LinkedIn is developing new features all the time and amongst the current 350 million members, you’re bound to make some great new links and you could find your life as a graduate gets off to a great start.

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Tweet Tweet

Feb

15

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 10.30.36Harness the power of the little blue bird

As I see it, there are two ways to use Twitter at uni. For arguments’ sake, I’m going to name one the student life approach, and the other the academic life approach. That’s because there are probably two ways to see university really, isn’t there?  There’s the one where you go because it’s a rite of passage and it will help get a probably fairly unrelated but fun and lucrative job in, say, advertising. Then there’s the one where you go because it’s a life in academia for you or you’re one of the lucky ones who’ve always known what you’ve wanted to do, and your degree is the next paving stone on that particular path.

Many of the tweets from the former are actually beyond the limits of my understanding due to the, er, swift evolution of English colloquialisms, and I think that’s intended, and that’s fine. For these purposes, I’m going to look at how a good academic focus on Twitter can help you get more out of #unilife.

There’s a lot going on out there on the Twittosphere. There’s a huge amount of academics on Twitter, and the reasons why aren’t in the least bit mysterious.  (Shhhh: academics seem to like to get their point across.  And procrastination isn’t just reserved for undergraduates you know.)  Through the use of hashtags and some crafty wordsmithery, Twitter can connect you with a whole customised, tailor-made world all revolving around your particular academic endeavours. Others who use related hashtags will be sharing relevant articles and other readables, and inevitably getting into discussions.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 10.30.36

Be an excellent academic tweeter

As always, first impressions do, I’m afraid, matter. Twitter has become more and more customisable so take some time over getting your profile looking right, and represent yourself as fully as possible by using a relevant banner image for the top of the page, choosing an appropriate (don’t read this to mean boring) profile photo and consider your short biography carefully. You can now include websites, tags and Twitter handles in these bios, so use this spot to make a statement about your reason for being on Twitter. Are you a #historygeek? Tell them. #WomaninSTEM? Tell them here. If you’re associated with any research groups, add their Twitter handle in your bio or simply show your affiliations by including your School’s handle. Sum up your academic interests as succinctly as possible to help make the most relevant connections, but don’t forget that we’re all human and we have some unrelated interests as well. Likely to throw in some tweets about music/Star Wars/cats/canal boats? Add a hashtag!


And hashtag your life away.
 Twitter is the birthplace of the hashtag. They’re often overused, so use sparingly (or, alternatively, hilariously). Hashtags are searchable too, so a search of #theoreticalphysics, #anthropology or #ArtHistory, for example, is going to immediately land you amongst peers. There are several useful hashtags that bring students and academics together. #ECRchat stands for Early Careers Researchers, #PhDChat and #PhDLife do what they say on the tin, and #AcWri is used to identify tweets about academic writing. #studentlife, #unilife and #SAchat (student affairs chat) generally, but not exclusively, identify and collectivise undergraduates, and find other people sharing your pain with #dissertation, #thesis, #finalyear, and so on. Join some academics lamenting the end of the weekend (and talking about more relevant things, presumably) by using #ScholarSunday.

phd hashtags

Hashtags commonly used with #PhD

Talk (tweet) to people!  A lot!  Academics on Twitter are surprisingly responsive, and Twitter gets more and more interesting the more you get into exchanges with people. Talk to people with common interests, regardless of their level of expertise.  They’re likely to respond.  You’ll find you get more followers that way as well, if that’s what you’re after. (Anecdote: I once challenged Ben Goldacre of Bad Science/Bad Pharma fame on a tweet of his about risk, and ended up having a decent discussion with him and gaining 25 new followers.)  Enlarging and strengthening personal and professional networks is only ever a good thing and on Twitter, those networks are just out there for the taking.  You really never know where each connection might take you in the future.  If you’ve read an article and have something good to say about it, see if the author is on Twitter and send them a few nice words.

Eavesdrop on events. If you can’t get to a particular conference, find out its hashtag (clue: it’s probably the initials of the conference and the year it’s taking place in) and follow it while it’s on. Many conferences now have someone responsible for live tweeting during the event, highlighting salient points from speakers’ spiels and delegates themselves take it upon themselves to keep the world up to speed with what’s going on for those lucky few with the conference name tags. (Be warned: you’ll get pictures and full reviews of the free lunches and the evening antics too.)

 

Make some lists. These lists are a bit like those that you might find on IMDB where people (with too much time on their hands) compile a list of their favourite comedy movies, or films that averaged a score of 50 or less on Rotten Tomatoes that were set in a desert in 1969 with a certain actor in. These lists are ultimately more useful for others, so it’s quite a philanthropic thing to do but it does make you look like you know loads. See this chap, for example. He knows loads of sociologists – way more than you know. But now you can know them all too. Hunt some lists out, find 600 new – and relevant – people. Then later, make some lists – probably when you really, really need to write a paper.

 

beyonce

Remember, academics can be funny people too.  Check out #AcademicsSay for proof.  And never fear, of course there are also plenty of cats in this corner of the interwebs; #AcademicsWithCats even gave rise to this year’s inaugural Academics with Cats Awards.

 

 

 

 

For more info on how to make best use of Twitter, check out (buy) this eBook written by the University’s very own Dr Catherine Pope: http://thedigitalresearcher.com/new-ebook-making-the-most-of-twitter-a-step-by-step-guide-for-academics/

 

 

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Are you making use of your web space?

Apr

13

 

Did you know that anyone with a Sussex ITS username can set up a personal website on the University’s servers..?

Look – I did it. Take a look, as it gives some suggestions as to what you might like to use your web space for. You don’t have to have any fancy coding skills – I have the coding skills of an 8 year old – because documents that you put into the right folder are then automatically available online.

First, you need to set up your web space. Once you’ve done that, a folder will appear on your N: drive called public_html. Documents in this folder will be available online, providing they’re the right file type. PDFs, pictures and any browser-friendly text files will sit nicely up there.

To make a really simple text file that will display as a web page, open any text editor (but NOT word processing software, like Word) – on a PC you can use Notepad and on a Mac, it’s TextEdit. Write a simple document in there and save it as a .txt file. Drop it in your public_html file and you’ll get something simple that looks like this.

To add formatting, you’re going to need to change it into an HTML file and add HTML tags to make it look pretty. Here’s the difference – I’ve just used one HTML tag to make a section bold. You’ll notice I’ve lost my line breaks, because that’s what happens when you use HTML; you need to use HTML instructions to get any kind of formatting. There’s a world of stuff to go into and this blog post isn’t really going to suffice as an HTML for beginners class, but there’s loads of information out there if you want to get started. There are loads of video tutorials on the internet that could help you put a good webpage together if you want to take it on.

So without doing any fancy coding, you can put up an introduction to yourself, or display a message about files you’ve made available on your webspace. I’ve done something along those lines for you to see just using a .txt file, created in Notepad and saved in the public_html folder, and it will also show you what the web link to your documents is going to look like.

Otherwise, you can stick documents into your public_html folder that you want to share with people, and send them the link so they can access it through a web browser. It’s worth remembering however that people can be rightfully wary about clicking links in emails so make sure that your audience is expecting to receive it, or that the email is reassuringly genuine-looking!

For more information about these personal web spaces, see our FAQ on publishing information online.