Social media has permeated almost every facet of our lives, which has a large impact on our professional images. To help with strategic career management, one of the GradHacker co-founders, Kate Meyers Emery, Skyped with The Pub Club via the Aquosboard on April 21, 2017 to provide key strategies on how to manage our digital identities. The following is a summary of the highlights. This is NOT comprehensive, so feel free to add a comment with the main tip or strategy you got from Kate’s discussion with us!
Kate first reminded us that everyone already has a digital identity. The question is, are we taking ownership over how that information is presented? She encouraged us to take a goal-oriented approach by asking ourselves, “Who will see this information? How personal do I want this to be? Does my current online identity portray who I want to be?” Kate recommended keeping the personal content to a minimum, and to remember that Nothing on the Internet is private! If you would not shout it out down a hallway, don’t share it online! Also, while social media is more aspirational than reflective, you want to be sure not to paint an image of yourself that won’t ring true when people meet you in person. To achieve our goals – whatever we decide they should be – it’s important that our digital identity is consistent (i.e. same name spelling, same photo) and updated (i.e. current profile picture that actually looks like you). To put this in perspective, Kate gave an example of Tweeting at a conference. If you want to network efficiently or share your research, then your colleagues need to be able to find and recognize you in person.
After providing these general tips, Kate reviewed several social media platforms. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses that make it a powerful tool depending upon the purpose and field. While LinkedIn is more business oriented, it is a good idea to have and maintain a profile on this site to improve your visibility on Google. Another good tip, when using social media sites like ResearchGate to share your own work, it’s important to confirm the journal’s licensing agreements. On the flip side, adding your own copyright to unpublished work you share online, such as a blog post you submit on TheCOM, enables others to share your ideas while protecting your IP. Kate encouraged us to try the different platforms available to identify which work best for us, and always be aware that the tools you use may change as your career progresses. For example, prior to her new job at a photography museum, Kate did not find Instagram to be very useful professionally; it has now become a vital part of her online presence.
Finally, Kate encouraged us to create and maintain our own website. While there are a range of options that vary in cost and effort, having a site dedicated to sharing your professional information is a great way to increase your visibility. Kate is an anthropology graduate who started blogging as a way to force herself to review literature outside of her specific focus. Her efforts more than paid off. The blog site she started her first year in graduate school, Bones Don’t Lie, has become nationally recognized and is even cited in primary literature! She became the top blogger in her field, won a scholarship based on her blogging, and was known to students when she interviewed for tenure track positions coming straight out of her PhD. While she had planned and made herself more than qualified for a tenure track faculty job, Kate’s investment of time and effort in “extra-curricular” Diverse Skill development provided her opportunities that allowed her to become a happy member of the 83% who work outside of academia.