I’ve just read a really interesting article by Jaana Kettunen, Raimo Vuorinen & James P. Sampson Jr discussing the conceptions of social media in careers services in Finland. The article is published in the British Journal of Guidance and Counselling and is well worth a read. However as some of you won’t have access to it I thought I’d try and summarise.
The researchers talked to 15 careers practitioners about their understanding of and ideas about social media in careers work. The practitioners were chosen because they were competent internet users, but were not early adopters of social media. The practitioners were interviewed in focus groups and then the transcripts were carefully analysed.
The researchers found the following five positions about the utility of social media for careers work.
- Unnecessary. Social media adds nothing and may undermine the core guidance relationship.
- Dispensable. Social media may be a passing fad. It might be important for people to help them to build and maintain contacts but it is not a way to deliver career services.
- Possibility. Social media might be important, but it is unclear how it can be best used.
- Desirable. Social media is important. It may require us to change the way that career services are delivery and this might be a good thing.
- Indispensable. Social media is very important. It enables career services to be reframed around the needs and interests of the service user.
Each of these different positions was articulated through different views about the nature of social media, where it should and should not be used, the level to which it threatened or challenges existing careers practices and the role of the practitioner. A crude summary might be to say that the less enthusiastic about social media the person was, the less likely they were able to see a role for it in guidance and the more they viewed guidance as a practitioner-centred (rather than learner-centred) experience. This chimes with me as comfort in social media is partially about giving up some control and more consciously being involved in a conversation where meaning is co-constructed.
Would these same findings hold true in the UK as well as in Finland. I suspect that they would be broadly similar, but I think that it would probably be possible to find a number of people who had taken the idea of the use of social media for careers work further and who were innovating or even beginning to mainstream its practice.
So a good question to any careers workers reading this is which category are you in?