I work with student teachers in a teacher credentialing program in California and noticed that some of them didn't quite understand the ramifications of posting inappropriate pictures or conversations to their social media accounts. So, I wrote them the following in an email since the annual job fair was coming up soon. I received some positive feedback from my students and thought I'd share in case others could benefit.
You’ve been waiting for this day for a long time and it is finally here, the job fair!
For the past year you have worked hard at your teaching placement. You’re learning about the importance of classroom management, building rapport with students and curriculum development.
So as you prepare to attend the job fair this week, I want to encourage you to do a few things that you might not think of as a big deal, but can truly mean the difference between you getting offered a job or not.
First, I want you to take some time to research your digital reputation.
Why is this important? It’s important because many of you are from a generation that has grown up with the Internet as a constant companion. If the Internet could talk and tell us all about you, what would that sound like or look like?
You are going into a profession where what you say, how you dress and what you do in various situations will be seen and heard by children and adults. So what you do on-land is one thing, but what does your digital reputation say about you on-line?
According to a 2012 research study by CareerBuilder.com, 37% of companies were using the Internet to screen applicants. That was 3 years ago. I’m sure that percentage is much higher today. Students – your future boss is looking. They want to see what your digital reputation says about you. Why do they do this? Because they know that your colleagues, parents and even your students are looking too. They want to know that you are a professional that can be trusted to work with children and will represent the school district in the most positive and professional manner possible . . . on-land and on-line.
Below I have outlined 2 ways that you can examine your digital footprint and determine if you need to do some “cleaning” before the recruitment fair.
1. “Google” yourself.
But not just any ol’ Google search. I want you to do what’s called an “Advanced” Google search. An Advanced Google search is much different than a regular Google search because it is actually filtering out the webpages that simply have nothing to do with you.
In order to do this you will need to put quotation marks around your full name. This filters the search so that your name is searched as a complete term, rather than pulling up thousands of webpages with your first name and last name as separate terms.
Try it by first searching your full name without quotation marks and take notice of how many results come back, then do the search again but this time with quotation marks around your full name. You’ll typically see a significant decrease.
I would also add your city as part of the search query, but outside of the quotation marks. You’d be surprised how many people out on the Internet have your same name. It doesn’t hurt to see what your namesake’s are up to out in the World Wide Web. It’s good to know just in the event there’s someone out there with a not-so-positive digital reputation.
So now what? Well, depending on what you’ve found, you may need to go through and change some privacy settings or delete unprofessional-looking pictures.
Which leads me to my second suggestion . . .
2. Check your privacy settings on ALL personal social media accounts.
I’m talking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, etc. Anything that is not set to private is viewable by the public. This means that not only could I see your photos from last year’s New Year’s Eve festivities, but I could also see conversations you have posted with friends.
I put together a quick list of links, but you should make a list of all social media accounts that you own and check each of them.
- Facebook Privacy - When logged into your FB account, just type in www.facebook.com/privacy and it will automatically take you to the page where you can adjust your settings based on whom you would like to have access. It will also give you an option to see your FB profile from the public view (someone who is not a friend, just merely searching for you).
- Instagram Privacy - I’m not on Instagram, so I can’t give you the details, but here is the direct link that has all of the information: https://help.instagram.com/116024195217477/.
- Twitter Privacy - Here is a great article on how to know if your tweets are public or protected: https://support.twitter.com/articles/14016-about-public-and-protected-tw....
- For other social media accounts, just login and search for the privacy settings option. I would encourage you to clean up your digital footprint by deleting or changing the privacy settings to all of your personal accounts online.
While you’re at it, add the most professional-looking picture you have as a profile pic, because regardless of your privacy settings, your profile picture is (almost) always publicly viewable. Also, ladies, PLEASE don’t use a kissy-face selfie . . .and gentlemen, I know you’re proud of your muscles, but keep the shirt ON!
I know what I just discussed above is regarding your personal online presence, but you might consider creating or improving your professional online presence. Some administrators might actually find this very impressive. Personal Learning Network’s (PLNs) are a great way stay abreast of the latest trends in education and learn from other educators around the world. Check out Alice Keeler's article on how to do just this: http://www.alicekeeler.com/teachertech/2014/12/13/15-twitter-tips/
Good luck students, I’m rooting for you and your future students are too!
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