Friday, 26 February 2016

Monday's Breeze Session - Assessment "in Absentia" via Social Media

This Monday's breeze session in the BAPP Arts Meeting Room with Paula, Lauren, Lizzie, Lois and Chloe held a lot of interest and conversation, sharing our thoughts about the course in general, including how to reference properly, the pace at which we should be working and what in which direction we were heading.

Some of the other topics which came up were 'googling' one's self to see what came up and if we were aware of it's being online for everyone to see, and several topics relating to social media in particular and how it is used to view someone's character to make judgments on whether or not to hire such a person. We also discussed the benefits and disadvantages of self-advertising through social media.  Many ideas were bounced back and forth between us all.

I decided to begin my research by looking into how prospective employees are judged by employers via their online social media account (for example Facebook) in order to assist in deciding whether or not to hire people using information freely displayed regarding their social life. I also looked at the advantages and disadvantages a potential employee's looking up an employer's social media account to assist in making a decision as to whether to join a company or not.

My first search into employers judging employees via social media through Google lead me to two interesting articles; one from Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina and another from the Time Magazine.

My second search was into potential employees judging employers/companies through their online media content. This was my question "effects of employees judging company's social media". This search brought up no relevant results, but more results to my previous search. There were also articles on how to make, and what to consider putting into, a Social Media Policy.  A Social Media Policy is a guide written by a company which states what employees may post on their personal social media site.  Deviation from these guide lines can result in termination of employment.

The checking out of a company's and/or employer's social media network does not seem to be viewed as a negative or a positive, judging by the total lack of interest in this matter demonstrated by the irrelevant Google results.  I think it is common practice to look at company profiles before deciding to apply for a job in order to get an idea of how a company sees itself and what it stands for which helps in deciding if a company may suit a prospective applicant.  I am sure that everyone of us looked at more than one university before deciding on Middlesex University.  Each person shops around for the best possible match for their individual needs as a starting  point.

This means that, by using social media to make a judgment of a company, one could possibly decide that a particular company does not suit one's requirements for employment.  Companies are looking for people who are going to want to work for them so perhaps they are not too worried about being judged by social media.  After all they are the ones who are making the decisions to hire certain people and their first criterion perhaps is that a prospective employer is interested in what they do. Perhaps this is the reason that there are neither any positive nor negative Google entries regarding the use of social media by companies.   

However, the judging of individuals by employers seems to be something that most people do not like, suggested by the mass of results given by Google.

The extract below from an article in Science Daily gets a strong message across.  Employers screening job candidates personal social media are creating "a new digital divide, as well as revealing how our freedoms with regard to virtual identity are being encroached upon increasingly by the world of work."  

This means that one is no longer able to leave Work at work because employers can make contact through email via mobile devices which include internet access.  If one goes on holiday, an employer can easily find where one is staying and ask one to conduct business while supposedly taking some R&R.

Similarly, one's private life is no longer private and is viewed by our employers and our colleagues. Hiding one's private life by non-involvement on social media is also viewed negatively.  Employers want to see how we socialise etc which means that our freedom of speech and social life have been removed from our own power because modern practice means that we feel pressured to display them in an "acceptable" fashion to the world.  Therefore, in order to compete for work in a digitally-focused age, one needs to be online sharing one's personal thoughts and events with anyone who wishes to look deeper into one's life both inside and outside of the workplace.

The above article was written in 2012 and is in relation to the use of Facebook.  At that time, Facebook did not allow for the privacy settings it now has today.  Facebook's increase in privacy settings could be in direct relation to this problem of being judged by employers before one has even shown up for an interview.  It raises a troubling question for a prospective candidate as to why they were not given an interview or hired by the employer.  Was it because of one's religious views, political views, sex, sexual orientation, race, colour, looks, hobbies, interests, etc?

Another article by Akankasha Dewan for Human Resources argues in favour of screening candidates and employees via social media.  This article was published in 2014 and argues that this procedure allows the employer to assess personality effectively.  However, it shows examples of candidates not being hired because there were photographs of the candidate drinking and taking drugs, behaving provocatively or inappropriately, in skimpy outfits, using bad language, posts written about them, post written showing their previous employers and colleagues in a bad light etc., Such issues lead to an appearance of unsuitability.  This again raises troubling issues.  

Social media is about one's social life and people usually put up images of themselves having fun.   Going to a bar is a common pastime when out socialising with friends and family and often appears on social media accounts.  Is viewing one's social media account a true reflection of a person's social life or personality?  Do people show everything or only what they think others will want to see?  Do people show the serious side of themselves or only the fun side?  I happen to be an avid reader but I do not stop reading the book to take a photograph of myself reading the book to post to Facebook so how do people know that I read a lot?  I don't list it as an interest in my profile because I prefer to talk to people face to face about my interests.  I enjoy human interaction without a screen in the way.

Most of us have had a Facebook account from a young age and are now older and wiser than we were then.  An employer looking back on our walls could see something they may view as being inappropriate and we ourselves may think this too but have forgotten about the incident.  We were all young once.  Is there a time limit on looking back at candidates profiles?  Are we viewed the same now as we were when we were 14, 16 or 28?  Is a photograph of one's self on holiday, on a beach, in a bikini considered skimpy clothing?  Or are photographs of one's self in a costume which can quite often be skimpy considered provocative?  Are we judged on what we are forced to wear at work and by what we wear on holiday?

Although this particular article argues in favour of using social media to make decisions on employment due to the author's view that one's social media site gives a true insight into a person's personality, I find this hard to agree with due to my own posting on my own Facebook and by many of my friends and co-workers sharing a similar view to my own.  However, on researching this I came across two interesting articles both explaining that professionally trained experts, psychologists, can work out one's personality by what one displays and what others display of one on social media sites.  Both articles suggest that even though one can display an idealised version of one's self most people tend to stick closer to the truth.  This being the case, as shown by these two articles, are employment candidates having their social media personality judged by trained psychologists or by people with no training in this area?  Are either of these situations acceptable? 

Now I return to the two articles I found from my first initial search.  One being from the Times Magazine and the other being from Queens University Of Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Times article, written in May 2015,  makes many points saying that while the odd inappropriate photograph may be posted,  it is unlikely that an employee will post photographs of themselves doing anything illegal or harmful to the company they are working for so monitoring social media is largely a waste of time.  It also states that limiting one's use of social media limits one's own creativity.  To be creative one needs to feel comfortable and free to explore unknown areas and these could potentially help a company.  Yes they could also cause harm but should companies take a little risk in order to perhaps gain a lot more?  Do the possible pros outweigh the possible cons?

The article from Queens University is actually an introduction to join their Online Master's In Communication Program.  As such, it makes some interesting points on what we post on our social media sites and how they can affect our chances of gaining work, a promotion, offers of future work etc.  It also points at the fact that we can no longer easily separate our professional profile from our personal profile.  It also strengthens the statement from the Science Daily mentioned earlier that our freedom online is being encroached upon by our need to display ourselves in a favourable light to potential employers.

It appears that our Facebook, or social media account, is slowly becoming a bigger part of our CV than we realise.  This is almost like a Court of Law deciding to accept hearsay evidence.  Is this a good thing or a bad?  


Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina
Managing Personal vs. Professional Identity on Social Media

Time magazine
22nd May 2015, by S. Kumar

Science Daily
23rd July 2012, Inderscience publishers

Human Resources
9th August 2014, by Akankasha Dewan

You Are What You Post: What Your Social Media Engagement Says About Your Personality
17th November 2014, by Jacki Christopher

What your Facebook use reveals about your personality and your self-esteem
13th October 2014, by Amy Morin

Friday, 19 February 2016

Podcasts and vodcasts and how they can be useful to the performing artist's CV

Today I had a visit from a family friend. During the course of her visit she asked if she could interview my mother about North Yorkshire and then she asked to interview me on my career as a dancer. Of course this was no problem but we both asked what they was for. They were to be used as podcasts of interviews with English people of different accents, to share with people who want to learn English.

I had no idea what a podcast was, being somewhat technologically illiterate, but being a curious person by nature, I had to go and google it.

Google had also been an interesting part of today's conversation with how Google has become a verb and lost it's identity as a company. For example, when looking up something on the internet, whether using the search engine Google or Yahoo  or any other, one says "I googled this the other day". How has this affected Google as a company? Has making Google a verb restricted the company or helped it? By being a verb, has this helped to advertise Google as a company and encouraged people to use the search engine Google over other search engines? I mean to look into this further out of curiosity.

But back to my research into podcasting. I googled it and found a page that immediately caused me some problems, because I didn't know what an RSS was, but I was presented with the immediate solution of a hyperlink to an explanation. After reading this I had more of an understanding of RSS (Really Simple Sindication), which, in the most basic terms with barely any technical language, is a program that brings podcasts from different locations to one place without having to visit each individual site and automatically downloads new podcasts in the same series to one's computer or device. If you would like a fuller explanation, here is the link to the blog I read, 

Now understanding RSS I returned to the explanation of podcasts. In the most basic terms and without too much technical lingo, it is a media file, like a radio program, that can be downloaded and saved and played at anytime whilst offline. Much like downloading music from iTunes to one's iPhone or other device that is capable of playing MP3 or MP4 media. Looking at Apple and my iPhone, there is a way to download podcasts from iTunes that I had never understood the meaning of before today. If you would like to read the blog on podcasts, check out,

This blog also gives hyperlinks and basic instructions to set up podcasting/vodcasting and suggests programs to use for RSS.

From this I understood that vodcasting was also available and is used in the exact same way as podcasting. I know that most dancers upload a show reel to sites like youtube and have their youtube address on their CV. But to see it, one has to search for it, find it and be online to see it. I know that there are Apps that allow you to download and save videos to watch offline but if a new show reel is added, a prospective employer has to know about it in order to search it and watch it. If an employer had a vodcast subscription to a dancer's vodcast, and the dancer is able to constantly upload clips of their performance rather than taking several clips over a period of time and making a show reel, an employer could view a dancer each time they uploaded a new vodcast without having to make a great effort to find an url address and wait for it to download etc, Perhaps this is a better way to advertise one's self because a vodcast would constantly be being updated rather than seeing a show reel that is a year old. An employer subscribed to that vodcast would have the information automatically downloaded to their computer and be able to see it whenever they chose, online or offline. If a dancer had their vodcasts attached to their online profile they could have their CV in the same place and be constantly updating everything at the same time making it easier for employers to see everything together and not having to email and ask for updated CVs or show reels. The same idea using podcasting and vodcasting could apply for singers and actors too.

Having learnt about this new, well new for me, technology, I think I will look into setting up my own vodcasting. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Profiles and CVs

In the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of a profile is "a short article giving a description of a person or organization" whereas the definition of a Curriculum Vitae is"a brief account of a person's education, qualifications and previous experience" and is a Latin expression meaning "the course of life". The differences are that a profile can include details of one's personality, family, background, education, appearance, etc whereas a CV is facts only and is tailored for a specific job. It is written as a list with none of the fullness or show of personality observed in a profile. An online profile can include a fuller account of one's strengths and can be used to complement one's CV. Online profiling can include key words to allow for easier searching by a prospective employer.

I have always enjoyed updating my CV. It gives me the opportunity to look back and be proud of what I have done and to look forward to what I could do next. When I checked over my CV to apply for this course I noticed something. There was not a single mention of my academic education and I had omitted parts of my dance education, like singing. Why are my academic skills not essential to applying for a dance job? They show that I am educated and received grades in all manner of subjects, besides dance, that could be useful in a Managerial Position whilst being employed as a dancer. Why did I feel that this information was not essential to have on my CV? More interestingly, why is this information not needed by a prospective employer? I am there to be a dancer foremost, but, I have been hired as a Dance Captain and a Production Manager and have had to write emails to other departments on the ship and to people in the head office. Why wasn't my knowledge of English and grammar not essential to my position as Production Manager? I had to deal with bonus payments for my cast and payments of crew members performing in the amateur shows so, as Production Manager, it was essential that I could calculate basic maths correctly. I got the job without the company's being aware that I possessed these skills required for management but I cant help thinking that had this information been on my CV, could I have gained this position sooner?

Here are my CVs. My contact details are blacked out as are my company details for privacy reasons.

 Above is my new CV that I updated to include my education details. (I removed my height and weight details as these are not essential facts for studying and this CV was tailored to suit my application for this course. I shall re-enter them for dance employment applications.) Below is my old CV.

One will notice that my newer CV is longer than my old one. One will also notice that in both CVs I kept the colour and the head shot. I feel that using a coloured border finishes off the paper and prevents it from being another sheet of white on the pile of CVs. I used red to highlight my contact details and to header each section of my CV and bold font helped to show important details such as my ship's name (not specified in these CVs). I used my head shot next to my personal and contact details to bring a face to the writing and it also gave me the opportunity to give companies a body shot if they specifically asked for one photograph only. I used word because it was the program I was most familiar with and is easy to edit and print. I feel that my CV, because of my choice of using colour and my head shot, may show a small spark of my personality. I include links to my show reel as these help if, at an audition, it is impossible to sing or perform pointe work due to injury or illness. 

On using Google+ I notice that one can have all one's details in one place; photos, videos, CV, profile. This is a useful way for an employer to research a potential employee. The profile provides the key words to be found easily in a search engine, videos and pictures provide current visuals, the location shows where I am currently residing and work section shows if I am presently engaged in work or available; a useful tool for both employer and employee. 

However it also provides dangers if it is connected to one's private Facebook or other personal sites as sometimes Facebook can be used against one if there are inappropriate comments, photographs or posts that a prospective employer can see. It is better to keep business profile and personal profile separate.

In creating an online profile I can write a more descriptive account of myself and prove that I can use my education to write comprehensively about my experiences, and the knowledge and skills I posses. It is a way to prove that I am not only a talented dancer, but an educated woman. I have noticed that a lot of online profiles are written in the third person. Writing in the third person is more like a reference. Would a reference be more beneficial to a prospective employer? Writing in the first person leaves no doubts that I am writing about myself. Which would a prospective employer prefer? 

Monday, 15 February 2016

New Experiences and Finding My Voice

Hi. My name is Nora Kathleen, I'm a professional dancer and I am a first time blogger. I am 27 years old and I have never even read a blog before! I know that sounds unbelievable but it is true. 
I am somewhat of a private individual and the thought of starting a blog was a daunting one. To open up and talk about myself, my life and personal experiences is not something I find easy and it was not a thing easily done when I was a teenager because the technology and the internet were not advanced enough to do this. Social media didn't exist for me until I was 18 and I felt uncomfortable signing up to Facebook and sharing my personal details to strangers.
Now people are very open about who they are, what they do, their interests and their opinions. There is online shopping, marketing, advertising, communication, social networking, and so many other things that are used by millions of people everyday. 
For me it is an interesting change to education. Not just in Schools and Universities but personal education as well. People can learn things at the touch of a button in the time it takes the page to load. One can talk to people of every nationality and ethnic origin, religion and race. One can find out any question one might have about anything that pops into one's head. 
I have spent the last 8 years of my life working on cruise ships. When I started working I was just 19 and free WIFI was not easily found like it is today. Communicating over long distances is now extremely easy. It is found in cafes, restaurants, bars, hospitals and even in the streets! WIFI is easily accessible and available for everyone. With the Iphone and other such technology, friends and family are never further away than one's own hand! A great improvement for people who travel for a living.
I must admit to youtube being one of my favourite sites. My love of dancing began when I was about two and I saw a video of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev performing Swan Lake. I knew at that moment that I must dance. My video player is now broken and my video is old and ruined, but I can still watch Margot and Rudolf perform Swan Lake on youtube. 
I have now read my first blogs. I found it fascinating reading about other people's experiences. Something as simple as a walk to work held interest and emotion even though it was not my walk but someone else's. If reading this person's experience gave me the pleasure that it did, why would sharing my own experiences not give another the same pleasure? Whether it be to amuse, inspire or just a simple observation? On the internet, everyone has a voice that can be heard if people are willing to listen. Why keep my voice to myself?
So my new experiences have been to read blogs and create my own. I can choose my own backgrounds and colours, font, layout etc. I did not find the experience to be difficult as to set the blog up was easy and it can be changed at anytime.
Writing my first post has been somewhat harder. But, after reading some others, I have come to realise that blogging is another way to share my emotions, my thoughts and ideas, and listen to others. It is not so daunting now that I have done one!