Does your Digital Footprint Get you in the Door?
Times are tough for recent graduates of education programs. Given the economic conditions of many school districts the labor pool has swelled with teachers who have many years of experience. These recently released recruits are quickly filling the ranks of the few full-time positions and almost all of the long term substitute positions.
It is that last point that is most trubelsome to new graduates as that was often their first step into a full time position.
Recent graduates need to do more if they hope to succeed in this job market. One area that students need to pay particular interest to is their digital footprint.
Sure many education students are aware of the pitfalls of facebook. Some have gone on to replace their last names with their middle names or mastered the web of ever changing privacy settings. Yet it isn’t enough.
A negative footprint on the web will stand the time as a fossilized impression of your character. However those seeking employment must put even more effort in building a positive digital footprint.
A positive digital footprint is not a fossil. It is more a step on the beach that ebbs with the tidal flow Each day new waves of digital content can simply wash away your efforts.
It is simply not enough to vigilantly guard your online presence against images of high school and college shenanigans.
You can rest assure that multiple members of every hiring committee will Google your name. Yes, no bad news is good news, but why not use the web to your advantage? Why not use the Web to build an online presence that puts forward an image of a talented, caring and knowledgeable educator?
You want the committee to have you stand out in a pool of very talented teachers. Here are a few steps you can take (in no order of importance):
1. Create a Google+ Account
Keep Facebook for friends. I find it advantageous to utilize other social networks for professional development. I would think it is strategic to get involved in Google+ as the popular search engine might just favor their own social network in search algorithims.
Google+ is also a great place to find many wonderful educators. You can develop circles, a collection of people, based on different topics. More importantly you can share relevant education resources to your circles.
2. Participate in Twitter
Twitter has quickly became one of my favorite professional development tools (supplanted now by Google+). Whether you use it to follow leaders in the field of education or to participate in many of the weekly educational chats it is a great place to make connections to other educators.
Twitter results do not show up as high in Google anymore as the two companies did not renew their real time search results agreement but a few retweeted or blogged about tweets can go a long way to solidifying your digital footprint.
3. Join Educational Social Networks
Another strategy to improving your digital footprint is to join one of the many educational themed social networks. These are a great place to get new resurces and learn how to become a better teacher. The discussions, forums and groups are a wonderful tool for new teachers. As you become more involved some of your posts will begin to show up in Google seach results.
Reflective teaching and learning are at the center of growing as an educator. By creating and posting to a blog you will not only grow as a teacher but you will improve your chances that something beyond local sports results will show up in Google when a hiring committee searches your name.
5. Create your own Website
While I stated earlier that these tips were listed in no order of importance I would stress the importance of creating your own website. Many education programs require students to submit a portfolio. Many students may still put together a binder of their lesson plans and reflections for search committees to ignore.
Instead you should create a website. There you can link to your other online spaces, thus increasing the chances of Google displaying the content you want when a member of a hiring committee enters your name as part of a keyword phrase.
On this website include examples of your lesson plan, a learning philosophy, and interesting links.
Getting noticed online is tough. Especially if your name is common. If you plan on joining the job market soon I would take steps to ensure your positive digital footprint is not washed away for ever.