A friend of mine has gotten herself into a sticky situation at work. She’s not really sure how it all happened. She was voted Teacher of the Year at her school just two years ago. Now it seems her principal is trying to run her out. She’s an innovative teacher with over 15 years of experience at her school. Maybe the universe is telling her that it’s time for a change. My advice to her: start your online presence NOW, so that it is established when you go looking for a new job.
It sounds a little extreme, but in this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.
— Austin Kleon, author of Show Your Work
According to this Mashable article, a whopping 68% of “recruiters have hired a candidate based on his or her [social media] presence.” That’s just HUGE. Consider Facebook for your personal life. For your professional life, you need more.
My advice if you’re just getting started? Two things: start a blog and join Twitter. I know it’s scary, but this world isn’t for the scared or timid. The world rewards those who put themselves out there, take risks, try new things. What are you going to write about? That’s up to you, but you won’t know until you get started. Here are a few ideas:
Find your voice. You won’t know what it is until you start writing. Will it be a how-to blog? A reflective blog? An advice column? Are you an authority on a subject or an amateur? Are you funny, serious, something in-between? There’s no need to have this figured out at the start. Try on different hats for the first few posts. Before too long you’ll know what feels right.
Figure out how often you will write: every day, once a week, once a month, whatever. It’s easy to procrastinate, if you don’t make writing a priority, so set a target. And, seriously, the more often you write, the easier it will become and the sooner you’ll find your voice.
Write up your units and lessons, especially your best ones. Do it because you want potential employers to see your great work. Do it because it’s nice to share great work. Do it because you know you’ve borrowed ideas from others in the past; this is your way of giving back.
None of us teach because of the great paychecks. Why not reflect on why you became a teacher and why you teach what you teach? Are you out to change the world one kid at a time? Do you just LOVE your subject or age group? Is it about the vacation time? Is it about love of learning? Potential employers are going to ask this question anyway, why not preempt the question?
You can write about your challenges and obstacles. The world is no longer about answers and authority. It’s about learning and trying and collaborating and growing. It’s about embracing your inner amateur. If you can be honest about your own issues, think how you can help encourage empathy, patience and persistence in your own students.
Discuss school policies and practices, not as a way of thumbing your nose, but as a way of thinking about your ideal work environment. As a way of encouraging change and innovation. As a way of reminding yourself of what’s good and of what’s possible. As a way of dreaming.
Connect your personal life to your professional life. How do your passions make you a better teacher? How does your professional life improve your personal life? How do your interests help students see the relevance in your subject?
If you don’t share your ideas, smart people can’t do anything about them, and you’ll remain anonymous and powerless.
— Vint Cerf, Internet Pioneer
Once you’ve written something, share it and don’t be shy about it. That’s where Twitter comes in. Twitter is an amazing tool for sharing, for learning, and for finding a network of like-minded professionals.
Never used Twitter before? Tried it before, but didn’t get it? It’s said that the average person tries Twitter four times before they get it. Find someone to give you a crash course and give it a go. Or try a youtube tutorial. I promise you, it’ll open up doors you never thought possible.
Let’s face it, the world is changing fast. Gone are the days of a person spending their entire career with one company. Even the idea of an employee is starting to vanish as more people work as consultants or independent contractors. It’s never been more important to establish an online presence. So go ahead: create your digital footprint.
Thank you flickr and Creative Commons for the images:
footprint by G =]
Sharing by Bob Cotter
Thank you youtube.com and AKB for the Twitter tutorial.