Social Media and your Career tamed

Posted by on Sep 27, 2010 in Career, PhD | No Comments

After a lot of research (most of which was a classic display of displacement activity) I’ve finished the first draft of a short workshop on “Social Media and your Career”. It’s taken a lot more preparation than many of my workshops because I felt I needed to build up my credibility by developing a higher profile on various sites.

I think I also needed to engage in a lot of information absorption, divergent thinking, playing with possibilities and ideas, then some lying down and making the web induced headache go away. (There you have it – the Shinton creative process* in a nutshell.)

Even with all this taken into account, I was struggling to come up with a framework for the session. My problem is that I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, an expert on social media. I spoke to people who were and was given all kinds of interesting leads to follow, but the cloud of information just grew. At about 3am last night I realised that the reason I’ll be in that room is that I am an expert on careers issues for research students and staff (or at least can pass for one in a dim light). Social Media brings career management into a new light, but the fundamentals which I’ve been working with for the last 15 years are still there. SM gives us a completely brilliant set of tools, but if you forget the fundamentals you can’t use those tools with clarity. Social Media quickly overwhelms and distracts. I’m aware that this post might be an exercise in “stating the bleedin’ obvious” but was an important moment for me as I had been rather dazzled by all the shiny toys and forgotten why I’d gone into the toy shop in the first place.

I took a deep breath and came up with a set of  core career questions, which the workshop is now based around:

Who am I? 

What choices are out there? 

What do I want to do? 

What do employers want? 

How do I find a job? 

How do I market myself? 

What am I worth? 

I’m sure questions will occur to me as the session is finalised but these have brought my focus back. 

The annoying thing is that up till this point, it is exactly how I had been using Twitter, posterous, LinkedIn etc – as resources for other ideas and to add value to the sessions I’ve been running for the last 6 months. The temporary loss of my focus is an insight I’ll be sharing in the workshop which is for researchers who are hardly known for having a lot of free time on their hands. It may be that it is a “growing pain” which all SM users have to experience, but if I hadn’t had the commitment of a “gig” to push me through, I might have run away and hidden in a library or book shop.

I’ll be posting information on the workshop in October.  For now I’m just feeling a lot more comfortable about the event and now looking forward to spending the next few weeks looking for sites and apps that will breath new life into all my work.



* there may also have been some knitting, BBC7 and coffee consumption.

(and if this post goes directly to my twitter and facebook page, then I have the excellent Tristram Hooley to thank, as he explained how!)


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