Electronic media such as Facebook and other public sites can either help enhance your chances of being interviewed and possibly offered an academic position or conversely redirect your application package directly to a file labeled “Thanks but not interested.”
Oftentimes when an employer is considering an applicant they will do a cheap, fast legal background check on a person without the person knowing or authorizing that such a search is being done. Schools may see if they you have a Facebook or other social media page and/or electronic profile that is publically available. If your profile suggests that your private lifestyle outside of your professional responsibilities is appropriate for the environment that you are seeking to work in, this may move your application to the “next level.” However, if on your Facebook page and by your postings your private life may present some questions, the employer may wonder if this behavior will impact your abilities to perform the job responsibilities effectively?
So what do you do if you social media profiles present a picture that could be considered by some university employment managers to be “questionable” or “less than desirable”?
Depending upon the site that you are on, you can make your page/profile only open to people whom you have given authorization to enter it or you could change your name on the site to a nickname, then create a new page or profile that presents you and your personal life in a more “professional” way that eliminates any potential issues that someone involved with the university employment hiring team may question about what you do in your personal time, as well as your personal values.
Social media is a double edge sword that can advance your academic career forward or stop your application from further consideration for that academic position.
Rich Gerstin is the founder of The Asheforde Group and is the head of math department at Brown Mackie College, Atlanta.
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