The YouTube generation

My latest blog comes to you from a very busy coffee shop in the library at Nottingham University.

I’ve just completed a workshop on application forms (great turnout and even better questions from the audience) and I’m having a quick coffee whilst working before going over to the Portland Building to start prepping for my presentation evening. I’m working from their library so I’ve decided to have a good look around to see how students work these days. It all seems a bit more advanced than my days as a student; banks of computers line one side of the café, and I’ve even spotted a student or two working from iPads. Mostly Facebook adorns their screens and it strikes me how this is a true sign of the times and the encompassing nature of the new social media that has developed in this decade.

Social media and online advertising is an interesting discussion point for us recruiters (and students!) as we’re well aware of the majority of students are online, not just as a means to communicate and organise social lives, but also as the starting point for career research. Our recent foray into the world of social media with Twitter and Facebook (and Quick Response codes) is proving increasingly popular but has not been without challenges, as myths still abound about recruiters checking profiles and abusing privacy settings (all not true and if you view our disclaimer it will show you exactly how to set your privacy functions to set your mind at rest). In this age of on-line communication and communities, and with restrictions on budgets and resource, I can’t help but ask the question: should recruiters be concentrating efforts on-line to increase access to all, or stay ‘old school’ and continue to work tirelessly across the UK to increase the face-to-face time?

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that on-line is the first port of call for students job hunting, and we all continue to pour money into websites and on-line advertising. I think some of the most sophisticated websites emerging are actually in the graduate recruitment sphere, and they involve very innovative use of videos, flash and games. A quick look at Google Analytics immediately shows me how many hundreds of students have been active daily on our website, where they are based geographically, which sites directed them to us, how long they spent there, and even the journey they took through the pages of our site. So there is no doubt as to the popularity of websites and on-line tools.

Yet, personally, I feel nothing can really convey the culture of a firm like face to face contact, and the events we run continue to instil that belief in me. This is the last week of our employer presentations for Linklaters and the reception and feedback for all events has been very good. This interaction, whether through fairs, workshops, open days or presentations, will hopefully give you all a real feel for the firm, giving you extra incentive and clarifying your choices. This year we’ve really thrown ourselves into the Milkround, doubling our events and adding extra innovative twists to engage you at your university. Pink tape and wall features have decorated many a student union wall and floor, and our Linklaters brollies continue to keep a number of universities dry through the rainy season.

Selfishly, I must confess this is one my favourite parts of my job – meeting students on campus and giving them the confidence / hints and tips to apply. As a recruiter, there really is nothing better than seeing a student you met on campus join as a trainee, have a successful training contract, and then qualify as a solicitor. So I say ‘Viva Events!’, although if we’re all looking a little jaded and tired then do try and empathise. We’ve visited 18 universities already and run 43 events, but there’s still more to come!