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Internet guru Seth Godin wrote recently to remind us how “everything you do now ends up in your permanent record”:
While this has been true for almost a decade now, SO much of what people send online makes them look bad – just ask the Drunken Pirate Teacher.
All of these are worth learning about, and learning how to use effectively, to help you build your own personal brand online.
We’re in a tight job market. We all know this, and as universities and colleges cut budgets, shut down hiring and examine current faculty positions, it is becoming increasingly important to demonstrate the value you bring to your position, promote your reputation, and establish a presence in your field of study in the unfortunate instance that you may be looking for a new position.
The question is how? Well, an increasingly popular argument both inside and outside higher ed is that you should really start thinking of yourself – you, your work and your skills – as a brand. You can think of this as a personal brand, or brand “you”, as a recent article in Fast Company explained:
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the [industry] we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding… To be [successful] today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
What does this mean in the higher education field? How does it apply to tenured professors and job-seekers alike? The answer begins with developing your presence outside of the confines of your classroom and your department. If all of your best work is housed on your computer or in a filing cabinet, or limited to select publications, you’re not doing so well in developing an accessible professional reputation!
When a student, faculty member, or search committee turns to Google to find out more about you and finds very little, this sends the message that you’re not engaged in actively promoting your work, your contributions, your service, your brand.
You need to tell more people your story, and share your strengths and successes with them. That’s why many are turning to web-based tools that help professors, graduate students and others take their work online and out to a wider audience. Think about the brands you know and use. They all have websites or at least a presence online. So should you!
As David Meerman Scott argues in a recent post about career and professional development, you have to think as a publisher.
Those in higher ed have an advantage in this market, because most are already prolific creators of work within their field. It’s the publishing that matters- not just your publishing in academic press or research journals, but in ways that are widely available and engaging to a broad audience. Your online portfolio should be searchable online and include examples of your work in many different formats (video, slides, audio, as well as text). Most importantly, it should be unique and establish you as a valuable voice in a crowded field of study!
Getting your thoughts and opinions out into the online marketplace adds value not only to yourself, but to your school as an ambassador of THEIR brand, and the same goes for your department. Job seekers can use this opportunity to become more attractive to search committees, showing that they are forward-thinking, engaged in the wider community, and are already an established and respected voice in their field of study.
So… looking for some ways to get started? Check out the the posts from Fast Company and David Meerman Scott, and read through this handy list of online networking and personal branding tips.
Start by thinking about what makes your work unique, and how you could structure a portfolio both offline and online to show your value in research, teaching and service (the Interfolio Portfolio can help with this). Get engaged in online networks (such as discussion forums) relevant to your work, and aim to become a leading voice, representing your field of work as a whole, your university, or even your department.
On March 4, Interfolio users will see two important changes in their experience: a new site design and the new Interfolio Portfolio Service.
Career Center and Departmental administrators of Interfolio should know that the new site design focuses on a cleaner navigational structure and new colors. The actual functionality of Interfolio for students and administrators will remain the same.
See the new look for Applicants here. And here are samples of the new design for administrators:
Administror’s Fileholder view:
Administrator’s Detail view of a fileholder:
Again, the actual product functionality of Interfolio, for both administrators and applicants, will NOT change, except for the addition of the Interfolio Portfolio.
The Interfolio Portfolio – a new way to showcase your best work– will be available as a “customer-only Beta” as of March 4, along with the new site design. During the Beta period, we will collect feedback from users, and will continue to improve the Portfolio based on feedback. In May, the Beta phase will be completed and an official product launch will be announced. The Portfolio will be cost-free if created during the Beta period.
Interfolio will soon introduce an exciting new way to showcase your professional accomplishments, skills, and experiences. The “Interfolio Portfolio” will be a place for your professional identity online- your web presence devoted exclusively to the work you do. You will be able to share your best work, tell the full story of your achievements, and promote your career.
Sound interesting? Read on to learn more about this new offering:
Why should you create an Interfolio Portfolio?
Create a strong professional web presence: A web-based portfolio is a key step to achieving success. When prospective employers, admissions offices, search committees, or students Google you, what will they find? We work with search engines to push your portfolio high in the search results. Optimize your professional online presence with the Interfolio Portfolio.
Display the full richness of your work: Your work is more than your CV or resume! Showcase your best work and bring to life your unique stories with documents, video, audio, presentations and web links. The Interfolio Portfolio combines the best of personal web sites, blogs, and social networking into a single professional tool that significantly boosts your professional presentation.
Build an online professional network: Share your work with a professional online community, and view and comment on others’ work. Contact like-minded peers or follow their work.
What will an Interfolio Portfolio look like?
Portfolio web pages are professionally presented:
Building your Portfolio is easy:
All Interfolio Portfolio accounts will feature:
- Interfolio’s high search engine rank ensures you’ll get found easily on the web
- Cutting edge do-it-yourself professional portfolio design tools
- Built-in networking capabilities to connect with like-minded colleagues
- Integration with Interfolio’s credentials and dossier service
- Customizable privacy settings
- Your content belongs to you, always
- Phone and email customer support
- No online advertising and no spam
- Your own personalized URL (http://www.interfolio.com/portfolio/JaneDoe)
The Portfolio public Beta will run from March until May
The Interfolio Portfolio will be available as a public Beta on March 4 (along with the new site design). During the Beta period, we will collect feedback from users, and will continue to improve the Portfolio based on your feedback. In May, the Beta phase will be completed and an official product launch will be announced. Your Portfolio is cost-free if you create it during the Beta period.
New look, same easy-to-use functionality.
Starting on March 4, Interfolio users will see a new design with enhanced navigation. The way you use Interfolio to request letters, add documents and make deliveries will not change. Even with the new navigation and new colors, Interfolio will be as familiar and as easy-to-use as before.
You can see the new look in the screenshots below.
The new “Documents” tab will replace the old “My Documents” tab:
The new “Deliveries” tab will replace the old “My Deliveries” tab:
Users will also see new “Portfolio” and “Inbox” tabs– both part of our the new online Portfolio service. The Interfolio Portfolio will give you a platform to showcase your best work online. We think you will love this new service- learn more about the Interfolio Portfolio here.
While you don’t need to be an economist to understand the severe impacts of today’s recession on the American job market, the numbers are staggering. The January unemployment rate has risen to 7.6%, an increase of .8% from November 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While millions of Americans worry about the rising cost of tuition, universities and colleges nationwide worry about how to pay professors, and have often resorted to placing hiring freezes on all departments, and even trimming research and tenure positions. With the economic stimulus plan now signed into law, higher education will see some relief, but will likely experience further tightening.
As the job market continues to be a legitimate concern for many academic professionals, what can you do as a professor and faculty member to prove your value and maintain your position? And how can job seekers in higher education differentiate themselves from other candidates?
In a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jeffery Young discusses the use of technology as a burgeoning differentiator among faculty members, and introduces the idea of online course management systems at public institutions, citing specific examples from University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The university operates the system to help track each teacher’s utilization of online tools and materials, and has drawn distinct correlations between a professor’s effective use of technology, and the positive feedback received by students.
Those professors using online tools like Blackboard and other course management systems, keeping students involved in online collaboration projects or using technology to tie outside sources into class work have received markedly better marks in student engagement, responsiveness, and overall satisfaction with the course.
While Young doesn’t argue that efficient use of technology means one teacher is necessarily better than the next, he does note that it certainly indicates sharper foresight and may likely be the direction many schools move toward in tracking the work of their faculty and determining the value of their work at the institution. Online teaching tools and other technologies allow not only greater interaction between faculty and students, but also greater accountability to departments, curriculum requirements and student feedback.
The educators that are able to seamlessly adapt with the changes in technology will likely be the teachers that are still employed over the next decade. And even if you are one of those technologically savvy that is unfortunately let go, you will be in a much better position to network and ultimately impress in your next interview, as much of your work and feedback will be collected online and can be used to demonstrate your success in previous positions.
This argument doesn’t extend to just teachers. An employer will look highly upon someone who recognizes the direction of our marketplace and isn’t afraid to adjust to its changes. Technology can be used to not only distribute and share content with others, but also to collect, organize and store your own personal material.
To those unemployed? Same argument applies. Imagine interviewing for a position where hypothetically, there are only two candidates still battling for the job. Regardless of the industry or position, if you can prove to that employer that you have a keen understanding of the direction of the marketplace and technology, you are significantly more likely to land that job.
The advice here isn’t necessarily to become a tech geek. But instead, embrace the technological tools that lie in front of you, and use them to differentiate yourself from those that don’t.
While we are working with our partners to make sure all information is up to date, your university career center or department web site may not yet reflect the recent changes.
If you have not processed your delivery to AMCAS yet, you can abandon the old method.
For all future deliveries to AMCAS, please follow these intructions:
1) Make sure that your AAMC ID is stored in the “Account Settings” section of your account.
2) Once all of your letters have been received into your Interfolio account, create a delivery.
3) After you have selected the AMCAS position and added your documents, make sure to include your AAMC ID in Step 3 of the delivery process.
4) After you hit checkout, you will be prompted to enter the AMCAS Letter ID’s for each document you are sending. Please make sure that the ID’s you enter are accurate, as inaccurate ID’s will prevent your letters from being processed.
Now that AMCAS is receiving electronically, the process is much simpler, but please make sure to include both your AAMC ID and the appropriate AMCAS Letter ID’s with your deliveries. Otherwise, your documents will NOT be properly processed by the AMCAS system. You do not need to worry about sending us the physical AMCAS Letter Request Forms, or including those with your deliveries.
As always, direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or (877) 77-FOLIO. Please contact AMCAS with any questions regarding the specific details of their process.
Just a quick update to our latest post.
Medical school admissions offices will not receive documents via e-mail. A majority of U.S. medical schools do receive documents electronically through Interfolio and you can find that list here. You can send letters to other institutions by way of any of our other paper options.
Moving forward, we will not be processing e-mail deliveries to any medical school admissions offices. If you find any cases of a school wanting to receive documents electronically, we can easily set them up with a free Interfolio receiver account for that purpose. Thanks!