Employability and social media

A current Jisc Inform article on how students can use social media to help them get a job has reminded me of what a key issue this is. We have seen themes around managing your online identity emerge as enormously important during the life of the Developing Digital Literacies programme, with nearly all projects developing approaches to boost students’ awareness and skills in this area. Part of it is damage limitation – the basics of not putting anything in a public space that you’re going to regret later – but the more interesting part is the positive and proactive aspect of presenting yourself online, and although your LinkedIn profile may be part of that, it can go way beyond that.

Many students today can expect to have portfolio careers rather than a classic graduate job, and for these students it’s particularly important to develop an online presence that reflects their skills, outputs and experience, and that might include slideshows, artwork, designs, blogposts and articles, websites and apps. Different sectors will also have different expectations about the formality and presentation of students’ work.

The University of the Arts London have done extensive work in this area under their mini-project on professional online identities, to support the career aspirations of their students. Other projects which have produced resources in this area include the Digitally Ready project at Reading, WORDLE (which has an online course on developing a professional digital identity – log-in required). The SEEDPoD Digital Literacies Guide from Plymouth University also includes sections on ‘presentation of self’ and ‘digital footprint’.

Increasingly, employers may be seeking graduates who have experience of using social media for ‘campaigns’ of various sorts, or for carrying out surveys or gaining feedback on a service or innovation. Some students may gain experience of this in their personal life, but for others any authentic projects using these tools which can be embedded into the curriculum will be extremely useful. The staff development resources from the digital literacies programme can help with this.

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