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Controlling Your Personal Brand

By Kip Glazer
 | Jul 27, 2016

ThinkstockPhotos-179016018_x300As a former high school teacher who taught at a Title I school, getting a call from a graduate who seeks advice as he or she attempts to navigate the challenge that is college is not uncommon. So I wasn’t surprised to get a call from my former Associated Students Government President who was a junior at UCLA. He was hoping to get the summer internship at Hulu. As he was completing the application, he realized that Hulu wanted a personal digital portfolio. Despite my telling all my students repeatedly to set up an engaging personal website, to be active on Twitter, and to maintain a robust LinkedIn profile, he did not think it was that important for him to do so until it was too late.

Some readers might wonder why I would encourage anyone, especially high school students, to create an online presence. After all, if The New York Times’ article, “European Court Lets Users Erase Records on Web” is any indication, wouldn’t it just be better for my students to not have a social media account or a website?

I began working on creating positive digital footprints because of a post I saw on a website called Rate My Teachers 10 years ago. Although they were mostly positive, seeing posts about me as a teacher without my input prompted me to create a personal website. I did not want someone else’s perception of myself and my work to be the only thing on the Internet. It is true that I have received more than my share of junk e-mails, but I continue to collaborate and connect with researchers and teachers all around the world.

Social media and getting a job

According to the 2014 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey, 73% of employers used social media as their primary recruiting tool, and 94% of those used LinkedIn as their primary tool. For highly skilled tech-related jobs, the percentage increases. Although many employers said they rarely care about a candidate’s political statements, their negative perceptions are strong against illegal drug references (83%), sexual posts (70%), spelling and grammar errors (66%), and profanity (63%) on any social media platforms. With the advancement of big data analysis tools, teaching our students to take control over what is being posted on the Internet is more important than ever! Here are a few things to remember to share with students.

  • Whether you want to or not, you will make digital footprints. Once I spoke with a teacher about the need to maintain a professional website. She said, “I don’t want people to know about me, so I don’t have Facebook or any social media accounts.” I told her to Google herself. Needless to say, she was not happy with what she found. She realized that her students, friends, and family members have posted a lot of information without her knowing. For some teachers who have not considered themselves to be public figures, knowing that our salaries, work places, and our licenses are all accessible by the public under The Freedom of Information Act could come as a shock. Our work e-mails and browsing history when we access information on our work-issued devices can also become public. I don’t know about you, but I would rather maintain my professional website where I have control over what is being posted to be the first result to come up if someone searched my information. This leads me to my next point and example.
  • If you don’t, someone else will tell your story. Take control. At the recent International Literacy Association (ILA) Conference in Boston, an attendee asked me if I had a business card with my information. Before I could answer her, she said, “Never mind. I will just Google you.” I was thankful I have maintained my personal website and a YouTube channel for many years. In fact, my first presentation at the ILA conference (then the International Reading Association) three years ago came about when another researcher found me on YouTube and wanted to include me in her presentation.
  • Everything is permanent. Even the things you share on Snapchat. Many of my students believe that disappearing display on Snapchat means that the information is gone forever. I always tell them it is gone until they are running for political office or applying to become an FBI agent. I tell them unless they want whatever they shared to be on the homepage of Yahoo, MSN, or Bing or as a Google Doodle, they shouldn’t share it. Ever. I also inform them they should remember that having a Wi-Fi–enabled device means that the information is posted somewhere or shared with someone as soon as they take photos or videos on that device.
  • Every post tells a story. Make it count. Because everything is nearly permanent online, one should be careful of what one chooses to share. I used to tell my students that I am an advocate for freedom of speech, which doesn’t guarantee them freedom of judgment from others. As the Jobvite Survey shows, all employers judge potential candidates on the basis of their social media behaviors.
  • Be discreet on different tools, but keep in mind of the larger online persona. Although I have all the major social media accounts, I use different tools for different purposes. For example, I post only professional information on LinkedIn and Twitter as I consider it to be a professional space. On the other hand, I use Facebook and Instagram to share my personal activities only with my friends and family. It is no different from choosing the right type of literature genre to express one’s feelings and ideas. Sometimes one needs to write poems whereas other times one must write an essay! So why not consider it before your next post?

Exercising digital citizenship

We all live in a digitally enriched world where one’s knowledge and information have become an important commodity for success. You will notice now many major news outlets such as NBC, ABC, and CNN reported what was posted on the Facebook accounts of the victims of Orlando shootings or the slain Dallas police officers. You hear daily what was tweeted by presidential candidates.

Whether you consider yourself to be a public figure, taking control over your digital persona is a must. And teachers must teach their students to exercise good digital citizenship. For more information on how to help your students, please check out Common Sense Media.

Most important, remember that your digital footprint is your personal brand.

Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program.



Leave a comment
  1. Jacob | Jul 27, 2016

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  2. Joseph Green | Jul 27, 2016

    Yes, it is true that students will have a better career if they have online presence. Today, the corporate companies are hiring employees by checking their social media profiles and their activities online. It becomes very easy for the interviewers to know how beneficial the talents of a person for their company. Not at all this fact; students get a lot of advantages keeping their online presence. I support you Kip.

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  3. Sara | Jul 27, 2016
    Thank you!

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