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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why Every Teacher Needs a LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn pen


LinkedIn is critical to every teacher’s job search. Here’s a story that explains an important reason why. 

One of the confessions I make in the book is that I actively look at teachers’ social media profiles when deciding if I should refer teachers to a client. Some readers have been taken aback by this. I get it, but I’ve hired enough crazy people to know it’s in my best interest to have a complete set of facts about someone before a final hiring decision is made.
Successful job seekers understand that recruiters’ increased use of social media is not a negative development, but a new tool they now have in their arsenal, something else they can use to help them stand out from their peers. Rather than hide every fact about yourself from Google and lock down your social media profiles, embrace this as a tool to help you increase the odds of a successful job search.
Even if you’re not convinced social media will help you get a teaching job, a LinkedIn profile can help saveyour job search. Here’s a story that proves just that.
Recently, one of my principals performed a reference check on a teacher she wanted to hire by calling a previous school the teacher had worked at. Standard stuff. But… it was the summer and regular staff were on vacation… and the building was being used for multiple purposes, including tutoring programs and camp… and so when my principal called, she spoke to a temporary worker who didn’t identify herself as such. That person, confused by my principal’s question, replied that she was mistaken- there was absolutely no record of employment for that teacher.
The principal panicked and called to tell me she wanted to rescind the job offer for this teacher on the spot. 
After 13 years of recruiting, I’ve seen it all, but I had talked to this teacher extensively and honestly didn’t believe she was the sketchy type who would lie about her employment. I couldn’t get her on the phone and went to find online proof that this teacher was the rock star I believed so I could get the principal back in her corner while we sorted the mess out. But… there was nothing.
No LinkedIn profile.
No mention of this person on Google working at the school.
How was that possible in 2013?
I also panicked and immediately reopened the search for the position.
In the end, everything worked out for the teacher and her new school. We tracked down her previous principal enjoying his summer vacation on a tropical island to confirm the teacher’s reference and she got the job. But her lack of online presence made us mistrust her for 2 days and frankly, if we had found another teacher in those 48 hours, she would have been screwed.
Here are two takeaways from this story for you and why your online presence, especially your LinkedIn profile, matters for you as a teacher.
Lesson: Even if recruiters aren’t (yet) knocking your door down based on your online portfolio and LinkedIn profile, use them to build your professional reputation and establish legitimacy. Regardless of where you worked before, you never know who will answer the phone at your previous employer after you leave. You also never know when you might need or want to execute a job search and having your tools ready to go speeds the process up.
Action: Set up a LinkedIn profile. A LinkedIn profile is very easy to set up and will be one of the first Google search results that appears if someone searches for you. Finding a LinkedIn profile that backs up everything you’ve told a principal or recruiter about your work history eliminates panic and creates trust.
A complete LinkedIn profile has the following components.
  • Your industry and location
  • An up-to-date current position (with a description)
  • Two past positions
  • Your education
  • Your skills (minimum of 3)
  • A profile photo
  • At least 50 connections
The K-12 education industry is changing and more recruiters and principals are going to take to LinkedIn as a primary tool for recruiting, just like other industries. I am just one of many paving the way. Get ahead of the curve and reap the results.
This post originally appeared on Confessions of A Teacher Recruiter by Tracy Brisson and appears here under a Creative Commons License.   

Chapter 6 of Confessions of a Teacher Recruiter: How to Create an Extraordinary Resume and Hook Your Dream Job includes more advice on social media and how it can enhance or hinder your teacher job search. Get your copy today.