Digital Identity = Digital Performance: Controlling WHO knows WHAT about you.

For better or worse, Digital Identity is becoming more of a hot button topic. Whether a person falls in the “better” or “worse” depends their digital conduct. According to careerbuilders.co.uk, 7/10 job applicants are rejected due to their online profiles. However the same study indicates that 7/10 job applicants also get the jobs because of their online profiles.

Digital Performance matters, because it is increasingly being seen by employers as a much more effective way to assess who prospective employers are. This article even goes as far as to say that your online profile (Facebook, Twitter, the results of a google search, etc.) are starting to matter more than a resume or reference letter, may one day even replace them.

In a way this makes sense. The capabilities of the internet allow people to offer potential employers a far more thorough picture of who they are and what they can do. Imagine a person who wants to apply for a job in roofing. Perhaps in 10 years the common practice will be for this individual to invite his prospective employer to an online space featuring videos and pictures that showcase their work and experience. The employer would actually be able to see that the scope of the work they can do. When held up against such powerfully effective demonstrations of ability, the current practice of the resume begins seem not only inferior, but inadequate.

There are more points to add to the “pros” list on the implications of Digital Performance. As Eric Stroller says in his article Digital Identity Development is a Process “a strong network of connections made via social media can easily enhance your chances of landing the job”. For teachers, this bares even greater relevance in our obligation to develop Professional Planning Networks.

The implications of Digital Performance ring even truer for educators. Yes, we also have many wonderful opportunities to show who we are to potential/current employers and communities. However, since teachers must operate under a social contract and held to a certain standard, there is more opportunity for scrutiny.

After an eye opening exercise in ECMP 355 where we were given a first a last name and had 7 minutes to scour the internet and get as clear an idea on who this person is as possible. It turns out that 7 minutes is more than enough time to learn a great deal about someone. Like anyone else exposed to this exercise I promptly googled my own name (oddly, this is something I had never done).

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As Pernille Tranberg states in her Ted Talk, “It’s all about trying to control WHO knows WHAT about you WHEN”. The results of my google search indicate that I’m actually doing pretty good so far. Every result and image on page 1 are all links to pages created and controlled by me, with subsequent results leading to pages where I’ve left a comment, which again, I control.

Tranberg goes onto say that “Every employer will make a social profile on you before they give you the job. They would be foolish not to because you can get so much information out of Facebook and a google search.” She introduced a concept called radical transparency, where in an age where we document so much of our lives on social media, little is left to the imaginations of people who don’t know you. “What kind of friends do you have? Do you overshare? Can you keep a secret? do you complain too much?”

I have no concerns over my current internet conduct. I am pretty careful about the things I share. My only concern might be my being too reserved on social media, as I consume much more than I produce. The artifacts I’ve left behind about myself are all fine but there may just not be enough of them. I wonder, if it were to take someone more than 7 minutes to build a profile on me via a google search, then maybe that’s a problem? See, not all of my profiles are “professional” so to speak (like my high school myspace page which I’ve decided leave in tact for nostalgic reasons). This isn’t bad, but it doesn’t do well in taking the place of a resume. Therefor, it is important that I, and all teachers work on generating more professional content to fill out their digital identity.

As Stroller puts it “Unlike one-on-one face-to-face conversations that reside in our memories once concluded, digital communications have an almost eternal shelf life.” Juan Enriquez echoes this as he compares a digital footprint to be like a tattoo. Because for better or worse its permanent, and we alone are in control of whether it will be something that we’re proud to have reflect our story, or silly mistake we’ll regret later.

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2 thoughts on “Digital Identity = Digital Performance: Controlling WHO knows WHAT about you.

  1. Hey Cam,
    Nice post! I like how you linked to a Ted Talk and introduce the concept of radical transparency. I hadn’t heard that term before, but it makes sense to use it.

    I also appreciate that you share your concerns about possibly being too reserved on social media. It connects to something I’ve been wondering the past few days! Obviously, as educators, it’s important for us to have positive digital identities because we need to be able to model this for our students; however, what about people in other careers? Do you think that it’s necessary for people in all professions to have a strong digital presence? To give an example, I know someone who doesn’t use Twitter, Facebook, or any social media just based on personal choice. Do you think he risks losing out on job opportunities because of not having an online presence? Is it fair to be judged on your lack of digital presence if it doesn’t really relate to your chosen profession?

    • Hey Raquel! I’m not sure if people in other careers will ever be required to have a digital presence the same way that teachers and people in related professions are. To some degree there might be more pressure for employees of the public sector to embrace “radical transparency” because they are salaried by tax payer money and with that comes a social contract. For now, I think social media is still very much in its infancy, but it is here to stay. And your friend’s choice to not participate is not a big deal for now, and maybe won’t be for rest of their life, depending on their profession. I think people should always have the freedom to opt out of social media, and I think it would be unfair to disqualify them from job opportunities based on that decision. But from an employer standpoint I could see why having no digital presence would be unsettling. Its almost like you don’t really know what kind of person you’re getting. And when held up against another potential hire that has a strong digital record that gives a much clearer idea of who you are hiring, its hard to blame the employer for choosing the candidate. There’s only so much you can glean from a resume or an interview.

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