International schools are in the midst of their recruitment season and are reviewing applications from prospective teachers and administrators. Schools which have invested money, time and good will into building technology-rich environments for teaching, learning, and professional practice can capitalize on that investement by recruiting and retaining faculty members with demonstrated skills and enthusiasm for living and working in that environment.
To that end I am often asked how a school can recognize candidates who meet an arbitrary standard of “good with computers” (*cringe*). In those discussions I like to use the ISTE Standards for Teachers and Adminstrators as starting points: What is the school looking for in its faculty and what evidence do you have that a candidate exhibits those traits?
A candidate’s digital footprint can provide evidence both before and during the interview process and Google is my simple tool of choice. There are two things a school should do for every candidate under consideration:
Google the candidate.
That sounds simple and obvious, but I am shocked how many interviewers do not look up their candidates as part of the initial screening process. Candidates can promise anything in a cover letter or CV, but the public record can speak volumes about what they are currently saying and doing. You can learn a lot about a candidate by examining what is (and is not) visible in their digital footprint. Things to look for include:
- a current professional website or blog with content that reflects the candidates ideas and opinions,
- an active, updated LinkedIn or Twitter profile with a visible network of professional contacts and communications, and
- third-party reports of participation in online communities, real or virtual conferences, committees, extracurriculars, and community service.
Ask the candidate.
In the actual interview simply ask the candidate “What would you hope I would find if I googled you?” The reason for this question is three-fold:
- There might be “hidden” information online, perhaps concealed behind a login screen or in a private community. The candidate would then be able to discuss these items in the interview which you might not have found in your Google search.
- Your Google search might have revealed conflicting or overlapping results for people with the same or similar names. A candidate who is aware of her digital footprint can then clarify which of those results are hers and which are not.
- There is always the possibility that the candidate has no professional digital footprint. You might have found a Facebook profile or links to family photos, but no evidence of professional activities online.
A teacher candidate who does not “[p]articipate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.” (ISTE Standards for Teachers, 5a)
An admin candidate who does not “[p]romote and participate in local, national and global learning communities that stimulate innovation, creativity and digital age collaboration.” (ISTE Standards for Administrators, 2e)
These are first steps towards getting to know your school’s candidates, but I believe that they will help your school to pre-select the best candidates for further consideration in your recruitment process.
Let us not forget: candidates will do similar things with schools (and administrators)! Maybe we should also ask candidates, “What have you learned about our school from your own internet searches and PLN?”
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Excellent suggestion and certainly a reasonable question in the interview situation.
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I got 11,300 results for Aaron Tyo Dickerson. Lots of interesting photos in those results too! Your twitter account, this page and your LinkedIn profile were at the top of the list. Congratulations!
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Thanks, Jim. Learning how to curate your digital footprint is a skill that can and should be taught. Kim and I have done sessions on this topic over the years for High School juniors and seniors and it has really helped them to know what others can and will know about them when they apply for university admission.
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