Will Twitter Kill My Chance of Getting an Academic Job?

Remember a couple of years ago when there was a lot of discussion about employers using internet-based social networks, like Facebook and MySpace, to screen job applicants? We were advised to use these so-called Web 2.0 tools cautiously to avoid the possibility of a potential employer discovering embarrassing photos or inappropriate comments. But was this ever relevant in the academic hiring process?

A recent article on the “Confessions of a Community College Dean” blog takes on this question. Dean Dad confesses to never having witnessed a hiring committee investigate a candidate’s Facebook or MySpace page. “I’ve spent most of this decade in administration,” says Dean Dad “and I have literally never seen social media emerge as an issue.”

This is just one administrator’s experience, but his testimony does suggest that perhaps the use of internet-based social networking tools might not be so fatal to one’s academic job search. If Dean Dad has yet to find a case in which the use of Facebook, Twitter, or blogging has harmed an applicant’s candidacy, I would be very interested to know if the use of any of these applications has helped someone land an academic position.

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2 Responses

  1. My two cents: I think it’s prudent to keep any web presence PG, but the academic world had grapevines long before any of this stuff came about. In other words, there are ways to cultivate a reputation – for good or bad – through distinctly academic and more old-fashioned networks. People who will be involved in hiring are far more likely to “know” you through the quality of your work and stories of your collegiality (or lack thereof!) than your Facebook page.

    Plus, while I follow few historical blogs (present company excepted), they seem to tend to be pretty single-minded: ie. professional, not personal.

    Landing an academic job is an alchemic mix of luck, opportunity, talent, and achievement, and having a “What Nordic Hero Are You?” FB application isn’t really going to mess with any of those.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful two cents. I agree with your comment. Social networks in the academic world existed long before the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Those traditional “offline” networks still tend to carry a lot of weight.

      P.S. Thanks for following this historical blog.

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