Guest post: The 7 C’s of digital career literacy – in practice

This is a guest post by Graham Kaye-Taylor who works as a Placement Assistant at Brunel University.

He blogs under the name ‘The Placement Officer’ as author of Tales from the Placement Office and can be contacted via Twitter @placementblog.

I am not someone who typically flirts with career theory. My involvement in career development starts and ends as a coalface practitioner within the confines of Higher Education, where the focus lies in helping clients to reach for the first rung of the ladder. Dosed up on a concoction of CV review and extolling the virtue of employability, I leave the science behind my craft to the thinkers.

However, I was recently drawn to an article by Tristam Hooley published in the NICEC journal in which the author explored the relationship between career development and online technology. In summarising the skills and knowledge required for people to pursue their careers effectively through using the internet, Hooley identifies seven elements for developing digital career literacy, which he calls the Seven C’s.

This struck a chord with me on two levels. Firstly, I encourage my students to take advantage of the opportunities social media and the web can offer in their search for internships and graduate jobs, be that sourcing opportunities, researching industries or networking with recruiters. The Seven C’s offers a simple framework for careers professionals to deliver this message to their students, perhaps through case studies revolving around successful technologically savvy graduates.

What also struck me about the Seven C’s what how much of it I could relate to on a personal level. Over the past year I have actively taken steps to enhance my career through online engagement. In a moment I will outline what each of the Seven C’s has meant to me in practice, but first I will offer a little context into why I embarked of my journey with technology.

I have been working in Higher Education for almost 7 years. During that time I have helped hundreds of students to secure sandwich placements as part of their undergraduate studies. I love the role I play in helping young people to take the early steps on what I hope will be a highly successful career path, and yet paradoxically I have spent little time actively developing my own career. At the start of 2012 I devised a project which could offer both networking opportunities and personal development outside the confines of my traditional working environment and immersed in the digital world.

Here then is my experience of The Seven C’s of digital career literacy

Changing describes the ability to understand and adapt to changing online career contexts and to learn to use new technologies for the purpose of career building.

My project began with a simple idea; a blog written purely about placements, filling a gap I perceived to exist within the careers blogging community. ‘Tales from the Placement Office’ was born and I assumed an online identity called ‘The Placement Officer’. I viewed this as a suitable platform to share good practice and promote the advantages of placements. It also offered an opportunity to practice what I preach to students about online engagement.

Communicating describes the ability to interact effectively across a range of different platforms, to understand the genre and netiquette of different interactions and to use them in the context of career

A blog without an audience is like novel written in disappearing ink; the content may exist but nobody is going to read it. I created a Twitter account to complement the blog by promoting new articles. A LinkedIn profile was also initially established with a view to reaching out to relevant professional groups. However, it soon became apparent that this was not an appropriate platform to advance the project as the faceless profile of ‘The Placement Officer’ struggled to make connections or secure group membership. Subsequently the account was closed down with the Twitter account taking over as the chief communication tool and means by which interactions could occur.

Connecting describes the ability to build relationships and networks online that can support career development

While Twitter provided a means to spread word of the blog, it was important to develop online relationships with key placement stakeholders. Starting from a base of zero followers, I purposefully instigated interactions with organisations that offered a strong prospect of sharing my articles to their audience within the placement community. Rate My Placement provided a link to students, while PlaceNet offered a route to fellow placement professionals. To my surprise, I quickly found a third party (Career Geek) were interested in my work and offered guest blogging opportunities, which I duly accepted with a view to reaching a wider audience.

Creating describes the ability to create online content that effectively represents the individual, their interests and their career history

What began as an idea one cold January evening has thus far spawned 33 placement-related articles. I would like to think that each one of them has been injected with strains of my personality, although the fact that I have until very recently blogged anonymously means that I have some work to do yet if the blog is to offer a true reflection of career history.

Curating describes the ability of an individual to reflect on and develop their digital footprint and online networks as part of their career building

My most recent article in which I unveiled the author behind the blog provided a first step in my new digital footprint. A by-product of this has been an influx of requests from placement professionals who have wanted to join my online network on LinkedIn. My next course of action will be to update my profile to include the blogging experience and to ensure that the digital footprint created as ‘The Placement Officer’ is transferred across to me as an individual.

Collecting describes the ability to source, manage and retrieve career information and resources

Something that I have learned throughout my project is the digital world contains good information, bad information and lots that falls somewhere in between. Separating the good becomes easier as your online network expands, where contacts directly or indirectly refer to quality material. For example, prior to starting the blog, I was unfamiliar with the excellent video resources offered by Aimee Bateman through her Career Cake TV portal, but became aware of her work through a mutual acquaintance on Twitter. Shortly afterwards when writing an article on the potential dangers of social media when job hunting, I was able to refer to a specific resource from the Career Cake website and with permission from the owner embedded a video into my article.

Critiquing describes the ability to understand the nature of online career information and resources, to analyse its provenance and to consider its usefulness for a career

This is perhaps the weakest of my Seven C’s within the context of the project. Where I have offered review of career resources, such as ‘A Student’s Guide to the Top Placement & Internship Employers’ it h
as been done from the perspective of my audience, rather than in terms of me as an individual. However, this article in response to Hooley’s journal item is a personal (if public) reflection of a career resource and as such falls under the banner of critique.

In conclusion, I have found the Seven C’s of digital career literacy a particularly useful tool for mapping my online career engagement and identifying areas that may require improvement. Each element is easily understood and from the perspective of a practitioner, I can see how I may present this to students as a framework to help them to develop technology-led career savvy. I encourage others to utilise the Seven C’s to reflect upon and assess the development of their own digital career literacy.





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