The Careers Service at the University are running a series of workshops for graduates that aim to ‘Boost Your Confidence’, enabling them to have the edge in a very competitive employment market. I was really flattered to be asked to contribute to these through doing a session around managing online identity and using the web to network and promote yourself.

I ran my first hour-long workshop on 24th May. The students were from a range of disciplines which was quite challenging but gave me the opportunity to revisit various resources and suggested strategies I’ve collected over the past couple of years. The presentation fits neatly into stages, influenced by Dan Shawbel’s ‘Personal Branding’ blog, which contains a handy ‘getting started guide‘.

I began by asking the students if they had ever ‘googled’ themselves – this was an activity that Pat Parslow (University of Reading) got us to do when he presented his ‘This Is Me‘ workshop at Plymouth a couple of years ago, and I thought it worked really well. Unfortunately my workshop was based in a classroom, so we couldn’t do this for real. However, although not many students had ‘googled’ themselves, I was pleased to discover that they were all very careful with their Facebook privacy settings!

I then set them a mean task – defining themselves in one sentence – which is incredibly difficult at the best of times   …and especially so when you’re only given 10 minutes in a classroom and know you have to immediately share it with the rest of the class! They did really well and seemed to enjoy it – the aim was to help them to prepare a considered and meaningful profile for all their online presences.

We then started looking at some of the free services that they could use to set up sites and other digital presences. While putting this workshop together, I discovered the work of Dr Helen Barrett. Helen has been researching strategies and technologies for e-portfolios since 1991 and has built up an impressive collection of her own e-portfolio using many different services. She is also interested in digital storytelling and has been an invited keynote speaker on both this and e-portfolio at many events around the world.

However, the time went very quickly so we were unable to look at anything in great detail. An hour is nowhere near enough time to cover this topic, especially without computers. I therefore ensured that everyone had made a note of where to find the presentation so that they can access it in their own time.

I’m due to run another of these workshops at the end of July. I’ve also been asked to do a similar session aimed at First Year students. Is anyone else working on similar resources/ workshops? It would be great to swap notes…

NB: When linking to the ‘This Is Me’ project, I noticed that they have now added a range of (short) books, free to download, about Digital Identity & Careers; Health Professionals and the Retired. They go into far more detail than I have, with case studies and exercises to work through, and are well worth a look!

See also…