Once you enter university, you might think you’re directly on a path to a career. Unfortunately, with today’s competitive climate, everyone is competing for diminishing openings; meaning that, even if you are qualified, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the job – even if that was the case years ago. What’s key is improving skills that aren’t necessary taught in university.

And one of the most important is learning how to use social media.

For example, networking is key. Though you might have achieved the highest marks and gotten into your university of choice by virtue of studying hard, this same attitude isn’t what will get you noticed. Knowing who matters in specific industries and what they look for, matters far more.

CareerLink highlights the benefits of networking:

“At one point or another, you’ve probably thought to yourself ‘I know someone who would be great for this (job or position).’ Well, with a great network and the right qualifications, chances are you have others thinking the same about you. Having an extended network of people who know you and what you are good at really well and what can help give you more opportunities necessary to expand your career. The best part about all of this is that networking helps jobs find you–a definite win-win in our book.”

With today’s ongoing, instant communication and social networking – using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – we can more easily discover and “meet” those who can help with further opportunities. Our immediate social or family circle is often insufficient – so learn to use social networking effectively, too.

About.com’s Career portal highlights: “Job seekers who connect via social media may see new job listings before they are advertised elsewhere, have a better chance of getting an interview, and have a better chance of getting the job.”

Given that South Africa is relatively young and small as a country, there is also given a greater chance of meeting people face-to-face, after introducing yourself via social media. The careers you can look for, whether it’s retail in Cape Town or security jobs in Gauteng, are wide but almost everyone is connected via some kind of social media platform.

This also means knowing how to not ruin your future career, as does happen with social media failures. After all, companies are now as connected as anyone – and are under as much scrutiny. They will not want to associate with those who don’t share their values and beliefs; this doesn’t mean lying, it means being smart and not, for example, making crude jokes that tap into ongoing issues the world faces.

Be smart and using social media effectively for proper networking, and this could lead to future jobs you otherwise might never have obtained.