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Networking for graduate employability: Evidencing the links between learning activities, connectedness capabilities, social networks and outcomes

Thursday 4 July: Conference day two, 10:30am – 11:00am parallel session



Room 9 – 3030-G23 MLT1



Professor Ruth Bridgstock
Griffith University, Australia

Associate Professor Denise Jackson
Edith Cowan University, Australia

Associate Professor Kate Lloyd
Macquarie University, Australia

Dr Matalena Tofa
Macquarie University, Australia

Michelle Grant-Iramu
QUT, Australia

Dr Chris Bilsland
Macquarie University, Australia



Analysis of national graduate outcome data reveals the importance of networking to students’ early career outcomes (Jackson, 2014), with a 54% increase in the odds of job attainment if graduates use social network strategies. Universities do much to enhance the employability of their graduates, but surprisingly little attention has been paid to the development of social and network-based connectedness capabilities for graduate employability.  

It has long been recognised that ‘who you know’ is important to career development in a variety of ways, including access to career resources and information, and career sponsorship (Duncan & Dunifon, 2012; Seibert, et al., 2001). In the digital age, social networks have an even stronger impact on how careers unfold. Digital tools mean that the reach of career development activities can be significantly larger than before (Nikitkov & Sainty, 2014; Roman, 2014). 

Undergraduate students tend only to start to build professional networks and career-related social networking skills and capabilities just prior to, or after course completion. Bridgstock (2019) found that, aside from those who already possessed social capital through family networks or previous career experiences, the vast majority of students were not effectively embedded into professional networks. Further, the students did not know how to develop their networks, or how to use them for career development. 

This presentation shares the findings of a survey of 620 graduates of Business and Creative Industries undergraduate programs, across three Australian universities. The survey explored the individual connectedness capabilities (Bridgstock & Tippett, 2019), social network characteristics, social capital and career outcomes of the graduates, linking these with a range of learning experiences and activities while at university. Specific strategies that educators can use to foster learners’ connectedness capabilities and professional networks will be presented, and resources developed through the project (case studies and fact-sheets) shared with audience members.  

NB. This showcase is a companion piece to Tofa et. al’s submitted showcase item Exploring career trajectories and social networks in early graduate careers, which draws upon graduate interview data from the same project. 

Please note also that the term ‘connectedness capabilities’ refers to a specific set of individual capabilities for career development, professional learning, and innovation/problem-solving proposed by, and explored in, Bridgstock’s National Senior Teaching Fellowship.

This project was funded by Graduate Careers Australia.



Bridgstock, R. (2019). Graduate Employability 2.0: Enhancing the Connectedness of Learners, Teachers and Higher Education Institutions. Final Report of the National Senior Teaching Fellowship. Canberra: Department of Education and Training.
Bridgstock, R., & Tippett, N. (eds). (2019). Higher Education and the `future of Graduate Employability: A Connectedness Learning Approach. Chalternahm: Edward Elgar.
Duncan, G. J., & Dunifon, R. (2012). “Soft-Skills” and long-run labor market success. Research in Labor Economics, 35, 313-339.
Jackson, D. (2014). Factors influencing job attainment in recent Bachelor graduates: evidence from Australia. Higher Education, 68(1), 1-19.
Nikitkov, A., & Sainty, B. (2014). The role of Social Media in influencing career success. International Journal of Accounting & Information Management, 22(4).
Roman, L. A. (2014). Using social media to enhance career development opportunities for health promotion professionals. Health Promotion Practice, 15(4), 471-475.
Seibert, S. E., Kraimer, M. L., & Liden, R. C. (2001). A social capital theory of career success. Academy of Management Journal, 44(2), 219-237.


Presentation topic

Students – Future Graduates

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