Growing Beyond an Established Digital Identity

I have run into an unexpected and interesting issue.  Although I am not as far along with my dissertation as I would like to be, I have decided to hit the job market.  Some of the jobs to which I am applying are not directly related to student affairs and technology, the primary topic of this blog and the tagline of this website.  That makes me a bit nervous.

It’s natural for people to want to make career changes, large and small.  But I never considered how to handle making such a career change when I have a strongly established digital identity that is not directly aligned with the desired career.  This is particularly tricky because I have a diverse skillset and I am applying to a diverse set of jobs from faculty development to student affairs assessment.  How will potential employers handle an apparent disconnect between my established digital identity – the topics I’ve regularly discussed and the areas in which I have publicly proclaimed expertise – and the jobs to which I am applying?

I am not misrepresenting myself in my application materials.  There are many skills I have acquired and interests I have developed that I simply haven’t discussed here, especially some that don’t seem to be on-topic.  But will potential employers take my claims of competence and experience seriously when they weigh these “new” and undiscussed skills and interests against those I have repeatedly and publicly discussed?

I don’t have answers for these questions right now.  But I will soon because this is not a theoretical issue but one I am actively confronting right now.

What can I do?

  • Scour my materials to ensure that anything I already have online that is relevant is accurately tagged, perhaps even highlighting those collections of materials somehow.
  • Quickly begin to build up a (larger and more visible) body of blog posts related to these other topics (e.g. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, faculty development, assessment).
  • Tweak the tagline of this website so it’s aligned with a broader set of my professional interests.
  • Create alternative expressions or evidence of competence and experience with these other topics (e.g. e-portfolios).

If I were always completely open and transparent about all of my interests and experiences, I wouldn’t have this problem because these facets of my identity would already be visible.  But I think it’s healthy and even necessary to consciously practice some level of self-censorship and selection, at least for me.  I just need to figure out how to present multiple facets of my identity with integrity now that it has become necessary for me to do so.  And hope that others can perceive that I am acting with integrity and understand what has happened.

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