Silent on Twitter about my job search

I use Twitter. A lot. It’s my daily, hourly,…, continuous source of information, professional development, and support, and a place where I can give back to the communities that support me when I need it.

I advocate

I describe projects I’m working on

I post my itineraries when I travel

I share the everyday things that interest me

Each of these is also an invitation for people to reply and share their recommendations, ideas, positions,…

Twitter silenced
(Illustration by Peter Newbury. Duct tape via pixabay public domain)

My latest big adventure — starting in July, I’ll be the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at UBC Okanagan — was more challenging because I chose to suspend this “networked practice,” as Bonnie Stewart @bonstewart calls it. I didn’t share my job search with my Twitter community.

I didn’t describe how I integrated my teaching statement (which they didn’t ask for) into my CV (which they did).

I didn’t post my interview itinerary.

I didn’t share the interesting things I saw and learned along the way.

Not being able to ask for help and getting feedback was difficult. But what hurt the most was I felt I’d betrayed my community: I was having an amazing adventure, one I wanted to share and believed others could learn from, and I had to keep it a secret.

Why all the secrecy, anyway?

I didn’t share my job search with my community for personal reasons. I didn’t want to tell anyone in case I didn’t get it. Now that I have a fantastic position to go to, I’ll admit it’s not the first job I’ve pursued since joining UC San Diego 4 years ago. Those failed job applications are now water under the bridge (and I’m very grateful to my current Director who encouraged me to apply and learn from the experiences, regardless of the outcome.)

I didn’t share my searches with my community for professional reasons, too. “Why is he leaving? What’s wrong with his current job? Is it him or the people there? If he’s unhappy, can he still do his job?” I don’t need people asking those questions.

The moment of relief

After months of secrecy, there was an unforgettable moment of relief when I could finally reveal my news to my community:

The anxiety was washed away by the flood of replies – I’m so grateful to my communities.

Why now?

It turns out, some colleagues have gone through the same thing recently.

[I’ll add some examples here when I get their permission]

Perhaps this “suspending your networked practice” is a thing, a new thing we wouldn’t have imagined 10 years ago. It’s uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing. Just like every other part of the job search! That feeling that you’re betraying your community? It’s silly. Ignore it. You have enough on your mind already. And no one that matters to you in your community would want you to waste any energy on it. We’ll be there when you have news to share. And we’ll be there if you don’t have news to share.

What about you? Did you share your job search process or wait until you had news? How did you feel when you finally let your community know?

5 Replies to “Silent on Twitter about my job search”

  1. I’ve changed jobs twice, once back in 2000 which was pre-Twitter (!) and again in 2011. In 2011, I kept the entire job search, which lasted September through March, under tight wraps. The only people who knew were my wife, her mom, and my references (one of whom was a colleague at the institution I was leaving — and he was the only person at that institution who knew). I had to let a few more colleagues in on the search because I was applying for a research position at the National Security Agency and those colleagues had to be interviewed by Federal agents, so I figured it would be a good idea to let them know why the Defense Department was sending a private investigator to their offices in the middle of the work week. But otherwise, nobody knew anything until I had a written commitment from my new institution.

    When I let everybody know, it was a huge release. I didn’t necessarily want to give a play-by-play to my entire network. But this was a huge change, and I wanted to share it with the people I care about, and that includes my network.

    In retrospect, I probably didn’t need the secrecy. But the school I was leaving was a small liberal arts college with 60 faculty members total. Many of those folks were lifers, people who went to that college as undergrads and returned to the college to teach, and they just didn’t understand that some people might want to move on to different things — that lack of understanding often resulted in awkward and ill feelings. Also, I’m sorry to say that one of the main reasons I left was that I had irreconcilable professional differences with the president and the VPAA of that college, with some horrible personal conflicts, and if I went for a job search and it failed, then I was fearful of how I might be treated.

    As someone in your personal network, Peter, I’m thrilled for your new gig and I personally have no problems with your not tweeting about it. I think it’s far more professional to not say anything until it’s a done deal, honestly.

    1. Thanks, Robert, for the story and the well-wishes. I did break my code of silence once during the job hunt, as you (and you alone) might recall. The day of my interview, you tweeted something about instructors needing to show humility – that they’re not all-knowledgeable experts with nothing to learn. I DM’d you, thanking you for the tweet and when you asked where I was interviewing, I switched the cone of silence back on. Sorry ’bout that. And thanks for that!

  2. Peter,

    I spent two years looking for jobs and actively hiding my job search from my academic colleagues (some of whom you’ll know). When I finally had an offer in hand, I was able to share the news with my friends & colleagues. There was a huge relief that I could stop deceiving my friends & co-workers and a lot of guilt while I was doing it.

    My job change was a huge shift moving from academia into industry; although my academic position was secure, I think making my intentions clear prematurely would have damaged my working professional relationships at the university. Until I was sure of my transition, sharing seemed unwise. I gather this is a problem for people in any job; when your loyalties are questionable, expectations of your work implicitly come into question also.

    Anyway, welcome back to BC! I’m in Vancouver now, so, should my travels take me to Kelowna, I’ll look you up again!

    Dhavide

    1. Looking forward to re-connecting, Dhavide!

      I think that fear of having your loyalty and professionalism questioned is one of the main reasons for keeping things quiet. Shortly after I started at UC San Diego, a colleague announced they’d be leaving for another job. At first, I was shocked – had they no loyalty to the institution? Didn’t they feel obligated to pay back the time the institution had invested in hiring them? Naive of me, I guess, because that colleague, and others I talked to, said there are times when you need to advocate for what’s best for you.

  3. I keep it very private. You have to tell some, because you need references. But I do not want my current work community to know I am looking around. They might think I am not happy. They might treat me differently. They might begin looking to replace me and let me go.

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