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PG Futures: Career Management in the Digital Age

24 June 2011

I took part in our Postgraduate Futures: Career Management in the Digital Age conference on Tuesday, which was fantastic. We opened with a thought-provoking and exciting keynote panel with Cameron Neylon (Biophysicist, Science and Technology Facilities Council), Jasdev Dhaliwal (Head of Communities, AVG), Helen Keegan (Senior Lecturer in Interactive Media here at the University of Salford), and Chris Harrison (Director of Research and Innovation, University of Salford).

For me, Jas Dhaliwal set the tone for the day with a challenge to “Be what’s next!“. He recommended to all the research postgraduates that they make sure they are Google-able, get a smartphone, and get their own domain name – and if you can’t have yourname.com, get yoursubject.com. Why not be ilovehistory.com?

As someone who has spent the twelve years that I’ve been online making sure I’m not Googleable, it was quite the turnaround! I have several online identities on various platforms, and have usually tried to make sure that my online identities can’t be connected with my real name. Now that I’m working in an area where a strong online brand can be a useful professional tool, I’m trying to bring them back together a bit more. But I’m not quite there yet.

At the same time, whilst it also raises a lot of questions – what kind of barriers to employment are being created, since the digital world isn’t equally accessible to all? And what is the point of us having legislation banning an employer from, say, asking a young woman about her marital status and whether or not she’s intending to have children, if he can go and see pictures of her wedding on Facebook, or read about her kids on her blog? Should we be advising students to make sure they have a professional online profile, which obliterates all references to their personal lives?

What do you think? How many online profiles do you have, and how careful are you about how you present yourself under your real name? Are you maintaining a professional/personal divide,

And finally, for fun, who are you according to Google? The top result for “Mary Macfarlane” used to be the manager of a teddy bear museum in North Carolina, which I loved. She seems to have gone now, to be replaced by my LinkedIn profile, and then page after page of Scottish genealogy pages. You?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Marian permalink
    24 June 2011 4:36 pm

    Thankfully, I get myself first, but love the fact that in parallel universes I am living out my dreams being a hairdresser, running a funeral home and being an optomerist, although I actually died on June the 4th 2011 in Mt St Mary’s Hospital, Niagara Falls…..Think I’d best check every week!

  2. Nine permalink
    24 June 2011 5:03 pm

    I’m still maintaining a professional/personal divide, using a different e-mail address for work (I’m a freelancer) that can’t be linked up to my online presence. I mean, my online presence is largely to do with sexuality, politics, swearing and overly personal stuff. But having said that, most if not all of my clients thus far would be unlikely to be fazed by it, so it’s like I’m holding out for these hypothetical conservative clients who might never materialise anyway. And since I offer editing services, some prospective clients would presumably appreciate some evidence that I write things and that I didn’t just land on the internet last week. Still failing to make a decision on this one though …

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