Cross Post: Your applicants are Googling You – digital footprints aren’t one way @coetail #coetail


Image by Lanier67 used under creative commons license

One of the most common pieces of advice around the use of social media for job searches is that principals are using  facebook, google, twitter etc. as a way to check up on the pasts of would-be teachers.

Most advice is used as cautionary tale for applicants.

‘Stop embarrassing yourself.’

‘Beware of your digital footprint.’

‘Watch what you do and say online!’

The unintended consequence of this advice is that many teachers feel they need to lock down their online profiles and not share their content for fear of being judged negatively.

Image from Cam middle school sourced via Facebook

Image from Cam middle school sourced via Facebook

The risk is real. There are countless stories out there out there of how one stupid tweet can ruin a not only your job prospects but your life.

But there also largely unexamined risks of having no presence.

Rather than think about how candidates need to impress schools by being smart and savvy online I’m wondering how schools are ensuring their online presence impresses future teachers?

Of the four teaching postions I’ve secured during my career in education, all but one had a social media connection.

My second teaching position I was recurited due to the postings I made on an online teaching message board way back in 2003. I trusted the teacher who approached me, had met her a couple of times in real life so I was happy to make the move.

My third school I followed the principal on Twitter and read her blog. Because I read what my principal had read and shared, I knew she was someone that would bring out the best in me and I was happy to sign on.

In my current postion I knew a few of the teachers via Twitter who gave me a positive run down on the school. Never underestimate how important teachers recommendations are when you are asking candidates to move to another country.

So here’s something that any school who is looking for teachers might want to think about.

Prospective applicants are googling you.

They are interacting with your online content, following your social media accounts, reaching out to people in their social networks to find out more about you before signing contracts.

What does your school’s digital footprint say to prospective teachers?

Would they want to work for you?

I’ll be honest and say that during my last job search I judged a school negatively if its online presence was a looking a bit stale. Having a static website with school newsletters either regularly or haphazardly uploaded just doesn’t cut it in web 2.0. In a couple of cases, a poor online presence caused me to give the school a miss. I didn’t want to waste time and energy applying to places I thought would be a bad fit for me.

Could the same be true for students and their families?

Are they looking beyond static websites and relying on networks to find schools?

Although I’m happy in my current job, international teachers are a transient crowd and securing the next position is never far from our minds. The schools I really want to work for when I eventually move on are the ones where that have interesting things happening on their class blogs and whose teachers are sharing awesome things they are doing on Twitter.

Some schools are already using hashtags to keep their learning connected and for others to interact with. A few of my favorite school hashtags to follow are #Nistthink, #ishcmc, #Sisrocks and #msmcpd.

Viewing content and trying ideas that teachers in other schools share actively encourages me to start thinking of ways that I could compliment and contribute to the culture of their school. The schools who have an effective online teacher presence are already enticing me to apply long before I’ve even thought about updating my CV.

I am well aware that international schools often get hundreds of applications for a few postions. So anyone who who has had the pleasure of sorting through mountains of CVs feel free to shout ‘quiet back there in the cheap seats.’ But maybe the employment market won’t always be like it is now. What’s more every school wants to have great teachers on staff. Maybe connectivism might turn the expensive and  risky business of international teacher recuritment on its head.

No more expensive flights and hotel rooms for job fairs.

Maybe there is little need to advertise for jobs.

Schools that put their thinking out into the digital space for others to see, think about and interact with don’t have to do much to get other teachers excited about working for them. Their connected teachers are already doing that job for them long before they need to advertise postions.

Having connections might make sorting through those piles of CVs a little easier too.

A few years ago a Year 6 class at Point England School in Auckland was looking for a new teacher. Instead of going through just the advertisement and CV route the class put out a video advertisement on their class blog. My mentor teacher got the job because rather than just put in her CV, she was the only applicant who also answered the kids directly through a video. It was a quick way for the school to sort through which applicants really ‘got’ their school and who didn’t.

So yes teachers and students need to be mindful of their digital presence. What they put online is a reflection of them.

But the same is true of employers too.

Teachers and students can leverage those same strategies that employers use to weed out unsuitable applicants to make their own employment opportunities and avoid negative career choices.

I was reminded of the importance of creating opportunities when I told the class they were having an important visitor from the New Zealand High Commission visit their photography exhibition.

“Wow how did you get her to come?” My year 4s asked excitedly.

“I asked.” I replied. “You don’t get anything in life without first asking for it politely.”

But also one of the Mums in our class had a connection and helped me help you.

The days of applying for jobs and waiting for answer aren’t going to be reality my students will face when they enter the workforce in a decade. They will need to create their own opportunities and use their networks to stand out from the pack.

When it comes time for my students to find their career path, I hope they understand that digital footprints to help them find their way can be found on both sides of hiring street.

Image by author


from Teaching the Teacher

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