We are in the digital age. While we still haven’t left the resume behind, we have entered an age of transparency where your social media tells a lot abouy you. Set it up for success. Done properly, this gives you an edge. Do it halfway, and it could come back to haunt you.
Who will Google you?
I will Google you. This, I promise you. And, so will everyone else.
If you’re looking for a job now or in the future, any smart interviewer will Google you. You’ll want to set your social media up for success. I’ve seen plenty of schools who don’t check, but you should hope they do. You want to be in a school that pays attention to the details, has some tech knowledge and skills, and is part of the 21st century they’re teaching.
I’m not going to lie. The same way I peek in your grocery cart to see if you either A) have better groceries than me or B) eat like crap, I totally Google people I come in contact with. When I hear of new hires, I open a tab and search in short order. “Oh, he’s Teach for America, worked in three places, seems to have a nerdy theater side to him.” “He’s got a Ph.D? And check out this thesis. It’s COOL!”
This is the most dangerous thing of them all. I once walked into my classroom to find the four classroom computer screens blasting this God-awful picture of me on every screen. This was a picture from the day I learned to use YouTube’s live feature–it records. It was 5AM, and I blast a 5 second picture of myself in all my 5AM glory before I realized it was broadcasting. And that, my friends, was what was on my computer. I took them down. Every day for six months they returned.
What I should’ve done was blasted a picture of the student who put them there but she won that round. Game, set, match. The good news is, you can bury stuff over time. I just tried to find it and include it here for your cheap amusement, and it’s been buried. There’s hope for us all.
In general, students found great stuff. “Miss, you’re famous!” (Not really) “You have a BOOK?” (Indeed) “Miss… I found you in this ARTICLE.” (I’m not as dumb as I look…)
The moral of the story
If you’re job hunting, looking to move up the edu ladder or just standing in your middle or high school classroom, someone will find your profiles. You do not want out of date, incomplete, and in general bad profiles out there. You don’t want sub-par posts, drama, beer pong from college, or anything that doesn’t market to your best self. Think of it this way–if I find your social media before I see you, do you want that to be the first impression I get?
What if it’s too late?
It’s never too late. Get rid of the eggs. Fill in the half-filled profiles. If you have old accounts you don’t use, point them somewhere else. Create a professional Linked In. Post a few thoughtful articles on issues you care about, and craft and delete the rest. Over time, the good stuff will bury the bad. If there’s anything less than savory out there, make sure to create ten times as many good things and let those shine.
- Concentrate on one or two professional platforms. If you use your Facebook for family pictures and your Instagram for cats and dogs, dedicate Twitter to your teacher network.
- Be consistent in your branding if you’re using social media to help with your career or job search.
- Have a go-to professional quality photo. It should reflect the image you’d like to show. It doesn’t have to be a headshot but it shouldn’t be a mugshot either. It doesn’t even have to be “professional” as in “I paid too much for someone to point a camera at me when I have an iPhone.” Go to a nice background, have some good lighting, and use the timer function. Get a great photo of yourself, or go through your archives and pick a smiling-action-fun-but-clear photo that shows off your best self.
- Check your social media periodically and update it. Get rid of out of date things, shore up the language (as you grow, your profile will). Remember (and this is hard for teachers): This is not a five-paragraph essay. It’s marketing–showing off you!
- Google yourself. If anything questionable comes up for you, it’ll come up for someone searching you. Be ready to explain it in an interview or if you’re famous one day, in a press conference. Also, know if there are any people out there with your name–and less than perfect records. Be ready to explain that, too.
- If you’re posting on social media with the hopes of building a sparkling teacher image, be authentic, and post over time. You cannot spam the internet with eight thousand pictures of you getting apples from smiling pictures all over a two week period and have anyone thing this is legitimate. Be yourself, be honest, but most of all, be consistent.
- Finally, be positive. Check the negativity at the door. Tell it to your fish, not your Facebook. Better yet, if you find yourself oversharing, jumping in political conversations, or embroiled in internet drama, take that stuff right off your phone. Cull any groups or people that don’t bring you to a better place at the end of the day. It makes a huge difference in your internet presence…and in the quality of your life.
Taking 15 minutes three times a year to check your social media really will up your game. If you’re new to this–whether you’re looking to teach or already experienced, taking a half hour to create a LinkedIn learn to use eduTwitter or make a classroom Instagram will be great for you.