In a reputation economy, social media can provide a powerful set of tools for establishing and enhancing your reputation. An enhanced reputation can lead to enhanced opportunities, in the form of job offers or other professional opportunity.
Academia is a reputation economy, of course, but really any knowledge economy/creative class job is going to be easier to get if you have a good reputation. Which brings us back to social media.
It seems to me that in a competitive job market, students can really make their own applications stand out if they can refer potential employers to a really solid, professional online presense. That presense can include standard CV-type material but it's also going to include a lot more -- the record of that person's online professional interactions. And that's hopefully going to give the student a leg up.
Now, let's take a look at Service aims to build professionals: WhyHire.me helps students grow an online presence and personal brand, an article I saw about a month ago in one of Toronto's free daily newspaper.
Select students at three post-secondary schools will soon have an extra digital component to their studies -- they'll learn how to build a professional online presence by melding their education, work and life experiences with social media.
This fall, Algonquin College and Carleton University in Ottawa and Toronto's Centennial College are incorporating WhyHire.me as part of the curriculum in certain business classes.
Those two schools are actually going to use a particular service to help their students establish a positive online reputation.
Part of that entails taking the traditional resumÃ© and giving it a digital makeover. WhyHire.me allows users to integrate blogs, photos, videos, news feeds and Twitter along with their online resumÃ©s on one interface.
As an instructor at Algonquin, Patti Church said she saw there was a need to help students branch out beyond crafting portfolios and resumÃ©s. Part of that included adding technology.
"I was in a first-year marketing class teaching them about positioning products and services, and then basically looked at them and said: 'You know, you have an opportunity to position yourself strategically over the next three years or you can sit back passively and assume the paper's going to do the work for you,'" she said in an interview with Andy during a recent Toronto visit.
Recent graduate Sarah Ormon was among the students involved in the pilot, and admits to some initial resistance. A job interview last winter where she was asked what she knew about blogging and Twitter helped lead to a change of heart.
"Up until that point it had kind of been a hypothetical," said the 28-year-old. "That's when the little green light went off in my head like, 'I better get on this.'"
Amazing! To me this seems like the thing that career centres should be getting into in a big way -- helping students showcase the best of themselves in a modern, technologically rich, social media saturated context. This certainly the kind of thing I tell library school students when they ask me for career advice: get yourself out there, get yourself know. It's never too early to start.
Some of my other related thoughts on this topic: