Do you know what your digital profile says about you? What would an employer find out about you by checking Facebook or doing a Google search for your name?
About 75% of employers do an online search to see if anything “pops up” about a potential candidate. This is, of course, perfectly legal, and your permission is certainly not needed for a potential employer to read what is available publicly online. So how do you make your online presence work for you?
Here are six tips to make social media help land you that new job.
1. Clean up your online presence. Before sending out a résumé or applying for a position, check, and possibly clean up, your social media pages. Why are employers concerned about what they find about you? Principals and other school administrators know that students and parents do online searches to find out about the new teachers in a school. Students who see inappropriate pictures of their teacher quickly spread those pictures, and rumors go viral. Parents are concerned and can complain loudly about their child’s teacher and his/her non-professional behavior.
2. See what other job seekers are talking about. There are certainly positive uses of social media with regard to job searching. There are interesting discussions on Facebook about getting a teaching job and about candidates’ experiences in interviews, complete with crazy questions that job seekers have been asked. LinkedIn is considered a more professional site and may be used for “selling” your availability as an educator. One professional organization, Kappa Delta Pi, international honor society in education, has its own social media site, KDPGlobal, just for its members, and the chats are very useful for networking. See kdp.org for basic information and how to join.
3. Promote yourself on Facebook—carefully. Some teacher candidates have made their Facebook pages multimedia showcases about their teaching skills. They might have pictures of bulletin boards or a video of one of their teaching presentations. However, it is important to note that an individual should generally NOT post pictures of students in any online format due to laws regarding student privacy. Permission must be granted in writing by students’ parents for pictures to be shared, and if you are student teaching it is advised to get legal counsel from your college or discuss this issue with someone very knowledgeable in the field if you want to use pictures from your experience. Great care must be taken when using a social media site to present one’s teaching abilities.
4. Use your college teaching portfolio. Another way to share credentials is to have a link to an online teaching portfolio that you made in college. Many colleges require all teacher education candidates to complete online portfolios as a graduation requirement. In some cases, those portfolios are available for view by an employer if the candidate releases a password and the employer has the ability to view that software program. Also, the college must allow the candidate to provide passwords for this type of use. A bonus of using your college portfolio is that you have had this portfolio reviewed, and graded, by professors, so the content is already edited.
5. Create your own website. Rather than use a social media site or a college’s portfolio site for an online portfolio, job seekers can create an individual website. Share the address of the webpage at the top of the résumé, with a simple line, “Go to sallyteaches.edu7 to see my teaching skills.” Of course, all of the privacy rules about what to post or not post apply to a private website. It is easy to share sample lesson plans, unit plans, a classroom management plan, an original test and a sample letter to parents. From these samples, an employer can see your knowledge of planning, management, assessment and parent communication.
6. Make an introductory video. In the video you introduce yourself, stressing your certification, teaching experience and one or two vignettes of your teaching success. To let the employer know you have a video, add a line to your résumé and remind employers in your cover letter that they can go online and see an introduction to you and your work.
Dr. Mary C. Clement is a professor of teacher education at Berry College, northwest of Atlanta, Georgia. Her research on the hiring of new teachers has received national recognition. She is the author of “The Definitive Guide to Getting a Teaching Job” and “First Time in the High School Classroom.”