Over the next few years I will be working on an Australian Research Council (ARC) funded Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) fellowship, examining the role of social media in young people’s employment futures. Although the project has been slowed down and redirected because of the physical distancing regulations in the time of COVID-19 (I’m meant to be in schools doing focus groups right now!) over the next few years I am planning to talk to young people about how they conceptualise their social media use through the lens of ‘future employment’. For a group of people who have grown up using social media, what are the impacts and complications on employment futures? Does the idea that one day, a potential employer might google them and find their Facebook page or Instagram profile change their disclosure practices? Do they set up boundaries on Snapchat, TikTok, and Tumblr to avoid professional networks?

I’m also hoping to speak to the people in charge of hiring and firing – HR managers, recruiters, bosses – to ask them about how they use social media to get a sense of potential employees. Ultimately I’m aiming to examine how our social media practices, conventions, assumptions, and processes of impression management are modulated by employment in the context of social media.

I’m interested in how thinking about impression management on social media for future employment might internalise particular kinds of narratives about risk and produce regimes self-surveillance and self-responsibilisation in new and amplified ways.

I’m working with some excellent colleagues on this – PhD candidate Richa Georgi, and Research Assistants Darren Graf and James Goring.

The project’s website is here: