Your time on social media is more valuable than you might think, or better yet, what your next employer might evaluate. Your online presence gives hiring managers more evidence of your work, and during the pandemic, how we engage in digital environments matters more as students, coworkers, and other “audiences” are isolating their attention on device screens.
Employers probably won’t ask candidates about their social media activity in an interview because of the legal risks involving social media screening. But they’ll likely take a peek at candidates’ profiles at some point before a hiring decision. As many as 70 percent of employers, according to a CareerBuilder surveyhave done this, and more than half found something that prevented them from hiring the candidate.
Rather than restricting information, candidates should link social media profiles on their resumes/CVs and provide examples of how they use social media to influence the public and impact students and peers in their discipline.
“Social media is an important scholarly tool that can be used to highlight and disseminate your work,” said Vinny Arora, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, who co-authored an article for the Postgraduate Medical Journal(PMJ) about social media-based scholarship. “We’ve been big proponents of using social media for education — teaching and research — and now (during the pandemic) we’ve seen an explosion of interest in virtual worlds such as virtual recruitment and virtual research conferences.”
But before linking your latest tweetstorm or emoji-validated takedown of a rival colleague on your CV, think through your social media strategy and how your activity might be assessed by the gatekeepers of the academy. Here are some things to keep in mind to succeed with social media on a resume/CV:
Provide links to your social media accounts just as you would your contact information and online portfolio at the top of your resume/CV. LinkedIn is an obvious social media profile to include because it’s oriented toward employment, and some candidates might even use LinkedIn as their online portfolio. You might also link to your Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts, but only include profiles that you use to advance your professional practice. For example, Arora uses her Twitter account, @FutureDocsto inform emerging medical professionals and to share research.
Tribal vs. Dialectical Thinking
The algorithmically driven newsfeeds and instant feedback systems on social media reward people’s tribal instincts: gathering approval from their social group and hunting to expose fallacies of groups with opposing beliefs. Resist this thinking and the inherent confirmation biases. Take advantage of social media as a marketplace of ideas that enables dialectical communication. Don’t go down the junk-food aisle and instead engage in the spaces where counter-arguments are evaluated and information is exchanged for knowledge. For example, Arora co-hosts a moderated Twitter chat, #JHMChat, for the Journal of Hospital Medicine. Engage in these types of conversations to disseminate your work, influence your peers, and build on theory.
“One of the unique advantages of social media is the capacity to create an interactive, connected social learning experience,” wrote Jonathan Sherbino, et al., in the PMJ article. “This functionality aligns with current educational theories that promote learning through the social construction of knowledge and the participation in communities of practice. Audience and author discussion and feedback, embedded within the digital platform, is a standard of scholarship unique to social media.”
Measure the Impact
For social media activity to be taken seriously, especially by academic employers, candidates must document the effectiveness. Social media have built-in metrics that you can use, such as reach, likes, comments, and impressions, but you also need to measure effectiveness and adoption, which might take some follow-up. #JHMChat organizers have participants complete an evaluation to receive a continuing education certificate. You could survey participants to see how well your contribution altered or improved their practice. Then you can use this data on your CV to exhibit influence and staying current in your field.
“There are ways to articulate your footprint on social media that would allow people to judge the quality of your work,” Arora said. “Social media is really the scholarship of application and integration. You may not be generating new knowledge but you’re certainly curating knowledge for other people, and there are ways to highlight the impact of that.”
What About Tenure?
Your social media merits and other examples of effective public communication, such as podcast appearances and blog writing, might impress a hiring committee. But does it count for faculty pursuing promotion and tenure? Short answer: It depends on your department, academic discipline, and institution type, and if you’re applying it to teaching, service, or scholarship. Shorter answer: Not yet.
A longer explanation, however, goes back 30 years Ernest Boyer challenged the definition of scholarship and faculty priorities in favor of a broader definition of scholarship to include discovery (original research), integration (synthesis of information), application (engagement), and teaching and learning. Arora alluded to the Boyer definition above, but the acceptance of social media-based scholarship depends on a discipline’s use for public communication, which medicine certainly needs during the current public health crisis.
In 2016, the American Sociological Association created a task force that released a report on evaluating public communication for sociology faculty. The ASA report offered suggestions for how to assess the quality of contributions, including type of content, rigor and quality of the communication, and the public impact. The intent was to measure the pros and cons but not provide a recommendation for the desirability for public communications as criteria for promotion and tenure. One of the co-authors said it was only a step in the process.
“There needs to be an agreed upon standard of what is high-quality scholarly activity,” said Amy Schalet, associate professor of sociology and former director of the Public Engagement Project at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “That’s the problem right now with social media: We don’t have that agreed upon standard for using it to share scholarship. That said, social media can be a valuable activity and there’s a greater desire for faculty in many disciplines to share their knowledge. with members of society who would benefit most from it. But, in general, the way the promotion and tenure process is structured, peer-reviewed publications remain the most effective way for earning your chops.”
How to List Social Media on a Resume/CV?
Curate all your social media achievements on a document with links to Facebook discussions, Twitter threads, and LinkedIn posts. Arora and co-authors of a white paper for the Explore the Space podcast discussed how to present social media and public communication on a CV. They suggested listing them under the title “Digital Media Content Creation and Contributions” as part of a table with columns for 1. Title (podcast, Twitter chat, blog post), 2. Dates, 3. Role (participants, organization), 3 Audience (number of impressions, listeners, views).
Include hyperlinks and make sure the examples demonstrate your skills and impact. Don’t include anything that is a paid endorsement, material with potential conflict of interest, or any content that reflects poorly on you.
Academic CVs are more comprehensive than resumes for administrative/staff, but both should emphasize quality over quantity and not overdo it. No hiring manager will want to scroll through a seemingly endless page as if they were actually on social media.
But if you share great examples or your professional impact, you may get the likes you need to earn a friend request, that is, an interview request or a job offer.