Building a ‘Social Media CV’ to Enhance Student Employability and Best Practice

Ben Atkinson & Andy Beggan – University of Lincoln

Short paper

The Social Media CV, is an interactive web-based career development tool created by the Digital Education and Student Life Team at the University of Lincoln. It was designed in conjunction with the careers department and built directly upon a graduate intern proposal to improve student understanding and appropriate use of social media. The Social Media CV generator allows students to glance into their current online presence and see from a birds-eye perspective, how this might impact on their digital footprint and in turn their future career prospects.

The tool has been developed as self-contained website which students are encouraged to use as part of dedicated careers and employability sessions delivered by the University. Moreover, the Social Media CV Generator will be embedded into Blackboard, the University VLE, to allow students to monitor their social media presence on an independent basis and it will play a key role in welcome week sessions, offering digital guidance for new and returning students.

The Social Media CV Generator is not a CV in the traditional sense. In this regard it does not replicate the features of Linkedin or any other social network; rather it assumes the guise of a CV to present a snapshot of a students’ social media presence in a relatable form. In this way the CV element of the tool can be considered a metaphor.

Students will link their social media accounts to the tool and this will initiate the process of pulling publicly available data, including posts, images, follower counts, usernames and profile images is pulled into a CV layout. The header of the CV is compiled of overarching data, follower counts from Twitter, YouTube and Instagram; a comparison of the names and usernames a student might be using on social media and the various web links they provide. This then, provides context for the information presented later in the “CV”. Experiences, for example, might include recent posts on Facebook, blog posts, tweets or photos from Instagram.

Importantly, all of this information is only available in session. No data is stored by the tool, thus adhering to the latest GDPR requirements and referring back to the idea of a social media snapshot. Students can, however, take away an export of their “CV” in the form of a downloadable PDF which can then be reviewed against a later version, thus clearly highlighting where a student has taken progressive steps to improve their social media presence.

This tool is not designed to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Indeed, recent research has pointed to the fact that having no social media presence is as bad in the eyes of an employer as having a wholly negative presence, and this kind of information might easily be picked up by the tool. Similarly, the Social Media CV allows careers advisors at the University to tailor their response, a student might be posting great content but if their follower numbers and interactions are low, is anyone seeing this? The tool has been designed to encourage discussion on the merits of social media and the ways in which students can actively cultivate their digital presence in a world where employers, but also their contemporaries, tutors and families are able to see much of what they post online unless they take active steps to lock this down. Here again, the tool will pick up where students have made accounts private and appropriate careers advice can be given. Does a locked-down social media account suggest you have something to hide?

The Social Media CV has been directly designed to work at scale and it is hoped that the tool will be rolled out beyond the University of Lincoln, as we feel it has merit at a HE level more generally. This is particularly true in situations where students may wish to monitor their social media presence in a quick and informative way, to see what an employer might see, and thus gain a greater understanding of how what they post digitally can impact on their career prospects for many years to come.


Promoting Responsible use of Social Media. (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2017, from


Social media, employability, best practice, online space, digital footprint, building a strong social media presence, social media clinic

Relation to the theme

  • engaging, stimulating and challenging learners
  • reaching and engaging different groups of learners
  • innovative ways of meeting learning outcomes and enabling learning gain
  • enhancing employability outcomes
  • building staff and student digital capability and confidence
  • scaling up excellence for broader impact