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The Role of the Internet and Social Media in Career Development

Relatively few Canadians use social media tools to advance their career goals. Those who do are more likely to value career development programs.

 

The Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC) has released findings of a survey conducted by Environics Research Group asking Canadians about their job satisfaction, their perceptions about their workplaces and performance management, and the tools and resources they turn to when looking for a job or building a career. This project is a follow-up to a benchmark initiative completed in 2007 that asked similar questions. This article is an excerpt from the 2011 survey report.

Networking has always been vital to business and career development. The rise of social media presents organizations and professionals with opportunities to augment the power of their networks by revealing new chains of connection between people, and enabling firms and individuals to gather around areas of shared interest and potential collaboration.

During the last decade, the Internet and social media have become more integrated with the job search process.

However, as there is little available Canadian data on the use of social media for career development purposes, the 2010 CERIC survey assessed how many Canadians are turning to social media for employment information, as well as the sites that they consider most important.

The use of social media for job search purposes is not widespread among Canadians. Four in ten indicate they use one or more social media tools to advance their career goals, most typically company websites (28%) and, albeit to a much lesser degree, social networking sites like Facebook (12%) and professional sites such as LinkedIn (9%). Smaller proportions of Canadians (fewer than 6% each) mention other tools such as Instant Messaging, Twitter, blogs and Wikis. Almost half of Canadians either do not use social media tools (23%) or are not interested in using them (23%), while 14 percent of Canadians cannot say which social media tools they use.

 

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Q.13 Which, if any, of the following tools do you use to help advance your career goals…?

Predictably, use of social media and the Internet to further one’s career is not consistent across  demographic groups. In general, those who are younger, have higher household incomes and who are university-educated are more likely than others to use social media to help advance their career goals.

Beyond these basic socio-demographic differences, a recent social values analysis of LinkedIn users by Environics Research Group provides some further insight into who is more likely to use social media for career development purposes. The average LinkedIn user stood out for their confidence, adaptability to change and sense of personal efficacy. As a group, they are heavily focused on work, scoring exceptionally high on values like the need for personal achievement and the quest for fulfillment through work. This values orientation likely explains why Canadians more likely to use social media tools to advance their career goals are among those most likely to also value career development programs.
Read the full report, “On-line survey on public perceptions about career development and the workplace”, on the CERIC website.

 

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