“LinkedIn Is the Professional Powerhouse” for Older Job-Hunters

Research supports what I know to be true: LinkedIn is the social media platform of choice for the unemployed.

“Whether someone is newly unemployed and facing the first steps getting back into the job market or unemployed for several months (even years), the bests approach is to dive into LinkedIn and get rolling” according to researchers Joyce and Smith-Prouix (2016, p. 131).

If you’re a professional, you’re expected to have a public profile on LinkedIn.com, especially if you’re in the market for a new career opportunity.

According to a survey of 222 participants with at least one Facebook or LinkedIn account,  nearly one-third of respondents used LinkedIn to find a salaried job, half of them shared that LinkedIn helped them find a job before, and researchers concluded that “more educated users with higher incomes perceived LinkedIn as more effective” (Zhitomirsky-Geffet & Bratspiess, 2016, pp. 105 and 109).

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago now gauges the condition of the labor market in part by online job search activity. “In fact, the use of online job search websites by job seekers and employers has essentially become the norm…today, job seekers who use online job search as one of their search methods are much more likely to find work—and find work faster—than those who do not” (Faberman & Kudlyak, 2016, p. 12).

Sameen and Cornelius (2015) conducted a survey from the U.S. of managers in small or medium businesses in Pakistan.

  • In all, 79.8% of respondents in the service and manufacturing sectors said they use LinkedIn to screen job candidates generally after the initial application to help reduce time and cost in the hiring process.
  • However, 59.4% said they did not making hiring decisions based solely on candidates’ social networking profile.
  • About 15% (16.4%) of respondents who disqualified candidates based on their LinkedIn or other social media profiles cited poor communication skills, lies about qualifications, and negative comments about previous employers (p. 28).
  • Sameen and Cornelius also cited several previous studies when concluding that hiring managers may frequently be influenced by candidates’ age, sexual orientation, weight, and facial features.

For older job-seekers, getting online and sharing an up-to-date LinkedIn profile may be intimidating, but it can also help turn around the potential of negative aging perceptions, according to Mufson (2016). She called “LinkedIn is the professional powerhouse” for older workers because more than 90% of recruiters check out candidates on LinkedIn, but less than 25% of workers 40 and above are on social media. Therefore, older workers who leverage their decades of personal friends, past and current professional colleagues, and alumni connections. Since LinkedIn is can solicit more referrals and triple their chances to landing job leads, finding job postings, networking with hiring managers, and landing informational interviews.

Based on Mufson’s guidance to career counselors, older workers in the job market should:

  1. Google themselves to determine what online information is readily available to recruiters, and if there’s any digital dirt that needs some Spring cleaning.
  2. Complete a LinkedIn profile. According to LinkedIn cited by Mufson, people with complete profiles are contacted 40 times more than people whose profiles aren’t complete.
  3. Include a professional photo that conveys confidence and friendliness.
  4. Remove outdated skills, technology, and jargon from profiles that add little value and might work against you in terms of stake skills.
  5. Consider adding an online resume to your profile. Mufson suggested Brandedme.com, ResumUP.com, and strikingly.com as mobile-friendly online resume pages that will leverage LinkedIn profile content.
  6. Get engaged on the site by providing comments to well-known influencers, writing book reviews for jobs in your field, and consider using LinkedIn as a blog for longer, more detailed thought pieces.

(This article reflects only the opinion of the author.)

References

Faberman, R. J., & Kudlyak, M. (2016, March). What does online job search tell us about the labor market? Economic Perspectives [serial online], 40(1), 1-14.

Joyce, S. P., & Smith-Proulx, L. (2016). How the unemployed can leverage LinkedIn. Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, 32(2), 131-135.

Mufson, P. (2016, Summer). Online presence for mature job seekers. Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, 32(2), 163-169.

Sameen, S. & Cornelius, S. (2015). Social networking sites and hiring: How social media profiles influence hiring decisions. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 7(1), 1-27.

Zhitomirsky-Geffet, M., & Bratspiess, Y. (2015). Perceived effectiveness of social networks for job search. Libri: International Journal of Libraries & Information Services, 65(2), 105-118. doi:10.1515/libri-2014-0115

 

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Social Media Is “Double-Edged Sword for the Unemployed”

We should learn more about how people who are looking for jobs use the Internet. But don’t just take my word for it; reputable international social media researchers agree.

Feuls, Fieseler, Meckel, and Suphan (2016) examined a 2012 survey conducted of German job-seekers by Fieseler, Meckel, and Müller (2014), plus additional qualitative data from 28 individuals concerning their unemployment. From those interviews, Feuls et al. concluded that “expanded interaction on the Internet for the unemployed would likely be beneficial” (p. 944).

Feuls et al. understand that people who lose their job means losing more than a paycheck. Unemployed people lose their ability to participate in the workforce, and they often feel ostracized and abandoned in society. To regain a job as well as the societal acceptance that comes with it, individuals must pick themselves up and try again to present a reasonably positive face regardless.

During that transition, job-seekers fill their gaps of time on the Internet.

Today, in the age of social media, we have different tools at hand that help us spend our time. In this context, social media may prove to be a double-edged sword for the unemployed,” noted Feuls et al. (p. 946).

Or, here’s how not to, courtesy of HuffPost Entertainment.

Citing numerous previous studies, Feuls et al. observed that social media may worsen negative emotions and behaviors for the unemployed:

  • The more time that the unemployed spend on the Internet with less time around people can increase feelings of loneliness and isolation, noted Feuls et al. by citing previous studies.
  • Jobless stress leads to higher risk of messaging, seeking social information, and online gaming, behaviors which all contribute to Internet addiction, according to numerous studies cited by Feuls et al.

At the same time, the unemployed can take comfort in some degree of anonymity on the Internet.

  • Online job hunters can conduct research on companies and potential job opportunities, view job postings and set alerts, and complete online job applications, as I know from my own experience.
  • Citing other studies, Feuls et al. noted that Internet-connected job hunters can join online communities for support, sharing contacts, and enhance social affiliations through applications (such as LinkedIn, which the researchers implied but did not mention by name).

How the unemployed uses—or misuses—the Internet likely depends on each individual’s digital access, ability to use available devices, and education level, concluded Feuls et al. after analyzing 2,414 questionnaires and conducting interviews with 28 of those people.

“Not all individuals experienced the Internet in the same way during their unemployment. It is important to be sensitive to the lives of the unemployed, to listen to the challenges they face, and not to treat them as a homogeneous group” observed Feuls et al. (p. 958).

Of the interview samples, 21% represented non-users with no Internet experience (66% were 50 or older). Next, 28% had minimal Internet use and viewed access as a means to an end with somewhat lower self-confidence levels (55% were women). In all, 35% of passive users were the largest group who tended to structure their online time as they had at work. Finally, 21% were heavy users and mostly the youngest users.

“As our society becomes increasingly complex and fragmented into sub-societies, the

individual and his or her worldviews and interpretative patterns become more important. Therefore, future research should define and look for particular life stages [such as unemployment] as they might complete the picture,” concluded Feuls et al. (p. 960)

 (This article reflects only the opinion of the author.)

Feuls, M., Fieseler, C., Meckel, M., & Suphan, A. (2016). Being unemployed in the age of social media. New Media & Society, 18(6), 944-965. doi:10.1177/1461444814552637

Fieseler, C., Meckel, M., & Müller, S. (2014). With a little help of my peers. The supportive role of online contacts for the unemployed. Computers in Human Behavior, 41, 164-176. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.09.017

 

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Finding a Job with a Little Help from Friends

I still remember how I felt when unemployed from January 15, 2009, to late July, 2010. I lost of part of my self-identity as a marketing writer, missing having a pace to go and things to do, and I left isolated and alone. German researchers Fieseler, Meckel, and Müller (2014) seem to understand and genuinely empathize with the unemployed while offering conclusions that reflect my own experience.

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With the cooperation of the German Federal Employment Agency, Fieseler et al. selected 14,000 unemployed people from the national database, and they interviewed 2,414 of them by telephone from February to March 2012. Of those selected:

  • Half were men, and half were women.
  • One third of participants were 18 to 25, 26 to 50, and 51 to 65 years old.
  • Most were high school graduates who didn’t attend or have access to higher education.
  • Their residences were half rural and half urban.

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Fieseler et al. examined the effect of online support toward their perceptions of self-worth in the job-search process. They based their 2012 conclusions on 1,322 of the 2,414 participants who completed the entire questionnaire and could access the Internet. The researchers defined enabling online support as online advice, suggestions for contacts, help finding online job postings, and references needed for job offers. They examined the effect of enabling online support to achieving job-search self-efficacy (think each job hunter’s self-worth). Each item on the questionnaire, which was finalized with feedback from a pilot, got rated on a five-point Likert scale (1, applies to all, to 5, does not apply at all).

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From this research, we can learn:

  • Getting online support tends to be less important for younger job-seekers’ self-efficacy than for older people, especially those who are middle aged and those who lack experience looking online for work. This makes sense, Fieseler et al. concluded; job-hunters with more experience with the Internet need less online support resources.
  • “Thus, for active job search behaviour, high self-efficacy is more important for women, younger people, less experienced users, and respondents with a negative attitude towards the Internet than for men, older and middle-aged people aged 26 to 50, more experienced users, and respondents with a positive attitude towards the Internet” (p. 170).
  • Higher job-search self-efficacy equates to a more active (and presumably more productive) online searches.
  • Age helps determine what job-seekers need to achieve higher self-efficacy, which presumably leads to more productive job hunts and faster job offers. Self-efficacy was most important to the youngest group of participants, while enabling support to achieve self-efficacy was most important to middle-aged people 26 to 50 years.
  • One can connect these findings to other studies (Kuhn & Montour, 2014) and logically conclude that people who are more active in the online job search process with access to support from an Internet-connected network and a reasonably positive attitude about the process will find work faster.

Fieseler et al. also posited that unemployed people might fill their time otherwise at work with social media instead. However, they wondered if job-seekers would openly advertise this status, noting, “unemployed individuals tend to be rather unwilling to openly express that they are jobless. Although individuals might share their feelings with close friends or family for emotional support, the topic is paradoxically excluded from the context of the job search” (p. 172). This area of interest, as well as the possibility that online job-hunters might create online personas and impressions to enhance their image to hiring managers, could be interesting avenues for future research.

(This article reflects only the opinion of the author.)

Fieseler, C., Meckel, M., & Müller, S. (2014). With a little help of my peers. The supportive role of online contacts for the unemployed. Computers in Human Behavior, 41, 164-176. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.09.017

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Military Face Unique Job Search Challenges

Anyone seeking a new job or wanting to change careers learns quickly the power of social media. However, older applicants and those who’ve been outside the job market – such as military veterans and their spouses – may face unique obstacles beyond the normal stress of a job search. What does preliminary research tell us about how social media helps or hinders members of the military and their families making a career transition to civilian life?

Bluvshtein, Kruzic, and Massaglia (2005) examined people making career transitions aided by social media through the lens of Alfred Adler, a leading individual psychologist who transitioned from military doctor to civilian life in a country that lost. According to these authors, Adler viewed relationships at the core of human nature, traits that get especially tested during unemployment, which fuel emotional stress and doubts of self-worth (p. 144). These researchers cited previous studies that view social media contributing to those feelings of isolation but refuted these theories, noting, “We believe that social media does not displace face-to-fact social connections but makes them stronger” (p. 147). Bluvshtein et al. offered six steps to help those in career transition on social media and achieving lasting meaning from those connections (p. 149).

LinkedIn

Active military members may distrust or not take advantage of social media opportunities, according to Frame (2016); veterans may view social media as a way for terrorists to track down their family members instead of as an essential career search tool (p. 170). However, members of the military are comfortable with computer-based training and often keep in touch with family back home with Facebook. Frame cited a 2015 study that noted that 95% of recruiters search LinkedIn for candidates and post jobs on Twitter, 92% post jobs and 79% hire people from those connections. About three-fourths of recruiters use social media to increase employee referrals, according to this study (p. 171). Frame suggested ways to protect personal information so military families can feel more comfortable with these public digital networks. Frame suggested that members of the military searching for jobs get active on LinkedIn, build connections with military friends and then increase civilian connections, follow-up on job leads, use less military jargon, and explain skills without giving away classified information (174-175).

Military spouses in particular face career search challenges that include frequent relocation, history of unrelated jobs, living in somewhat poor job markets, and lack of seniority, according to McBride and Cleymans. They cited a 2013 survey that identified today’s military spouse as a 33-year-old female with some post-secondary education and some children in the home who makes about a third less than her civilian peers (p. 92). Read a more entertaining take on unemployed military spouses here.

However, these resilient spouses also tend to possess valuable and employable skills that include adaptability, flexibility, creative thinking, problem solving, and organizational skills, but may not necessary have the know-how to communicate the value of those skills to hiring managers. McBride and Cleymans suggested that military spouses use these job-search strategies: create a career lattice, increase marketability, understand education opportunities, learn job-market lingo, document accomplishments, and leverage social media (p. 93).

References

Bluvshtein, M., Kruzic, M., & Massaglia, V. (2005, Summer). From netthinking to networking to netfeeling: Using social media to help people in job transitions. Journal of Individual Psychology 71(2). 143-154.

Frame, P. P. (2016). Coaching veterans to understand the value and proper usage of social media. Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, 32(2), 170-176.

McBride, P., & Cleymans, L. (2014, Fall). A paradigm shift: Strategies for assisting military spouses in obtaining a successful career path. Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, 30(3). 92-102.

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Social Media Key Tool for Older Applicants

Social media may be a two-edged sword to older job applicants without current employment or people who are attempting a career transition later in life. Today’s job-hunters won’t get far without access to digital job applications, online job postings, and email for correspondence.

Lopez-Kidwell, Grosser, Dineen, and Borgatti approached job searches within job search goal life spans with two empirical studies focusing on “social comparison theory, control theory, and the attentional focus model of time pressure”. They concluded “(1) prior job seeker effort is positively related to current effort across stages, (2) average peer job search effort is more strongly and positively related to job seeker effort earlier in job search, and (3) job search progress (i.e., the ratio of interviews to applications in Study 1 and perceived progress in Study 2) is negatively related to job seeker effort later in job search” (p. 1655). The researchers surveyed 78 American MBA students averaging about 25 years of age. At least they admitted predictable survey design results in that “Although supportive, the results are based on a relatively small sample of individuals who, as members of a highly cohesive cohort, were in a somewhat unique job search context” (p. 2013).

unemployment

Much more useful insights are those shared by private career counselors Reiff and Labovich (2014), who had actual conversations with professionals who are attempting a shift in the middle of their careers. They truly understand that “Feelings of vulnerability; fear of the unknown, of rejection, of networking; or fear of failure tend to derail even the most motivated and qualified job candidate” (p. 176). Those in career transition should develop a personal marketing plan, which includes specific scripts for predictable social situations with snappy answers (Labovich & Salpeter, 2013, as cited in Reiff & Labovich, 2015, p. 177). Mid-career professionals should also use the “3 C’s of brand communications: clarity…about who you are and who you are not…consistency [in] steadfastly expressing your message no matter what communications vehicles you choose…and constancy [in] being visible to your network (Arruda & Dixson, 2007, cited in Reiff & Labovich, 2015, p. 177). Reiff and Labovich also advocate being open and candid about physical imperfections such as hand tremors in one case or explaining why someone would take a seemingly lower job.

No one

Any middle-aged professional who got caught jobless during the recession won’t be surprised by the findings of Wanberg, Kanfer, Hamann, and Zhang (2016). These researchers found “a negative relationship between age and reemployment status and speed across job search decade, world region, and unemployment rate, with the strength of the negative relationship becoming stronger over age 50” (p. 400). The authors contributed a theoretical and empirical analyses that provided “new research directions that are important to policymakers, job counselors, employers, recruiters, and job seekers in improving the experience and success of job pursuit after job loss” (p. 401). “Our model, describing the ways in which aging is associated with multiple factors (e.g., physical abilities, motives, social networks, search strategies, and marketplace demands) is relevant to job search will be useful to practitioners that assist job seekers” (p. 416).

(These opinions reflect only those of the author.)

References

Arruda, W. & Dixson, K. (2007). Career Distinction. Standing Out by Building Your Brand. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Labovich, L., & Salpeter, M. (2012). 100 Conversations for Career Success. New York: NY Learning Express, LLC.

Lopez-Kidwell, V., Grosser, T. J., Dineen, B. R., & Borgatti, S. P. (2013). What matters when: A multistage model and empirical examination of job search effort. Academy of Management Journal, 56(6), 1655-1678. doi:10.5465/amj.2011.0546

Reiff, K. K., & Labovich, L. L. (2014). Courageous networking conversations for mid-career professionals in transition. Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, 30(2), 176-182.

Wanberg, C. R., Kanfer, R., Hamann, D. J., & Zhang, Z. (2016). Age and reemployment success after job loss: An integrative model and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 142(4), 400-426. doi:10.1037/bul0000019

 

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Career Search: What I Know for Certain

January 15, 2009: The head dude in charge of the investment advisory firm where I worked herded us together into a conference room around 11 a.m. He dismissed about a third of the group, so those who remained could pack our cubes and leave our jobs behind.

When I got home, the news featured an airline pilot who successfully landed in the middle of the Hudson River, saving all those aboard. “Sully”, starring Tom Hanks and directed by Clint Eastwood, will be released after Labor Day.

Okay, I thought after listening to the evening news broadcast that night, perhaps I’m not having the worst day after all.

I picked myself up and found a way to make it through 18 months of unemployment for the first time since I graduated from college, well, a long time ago. I felt embarrassed to tell family members and friends that I “lost” my job, sad that a part of my self-identity was missing, confused because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next, and angry at the boss who told us at the holiday party that everything would be okay.

Soon I realized that I needed to get out of the house. I found something to do in the church office and then offered to help with a new job-networking group at church. Before long, I became the leader of the weekly group that brought together white-collar professionals, blue-collar workers, and marginalized unemployees. We shared snacks, resume tips, job leads, empathetic conversations, and brainstorms. I attended career search groups held in the west end of town and returned with success stories, career search tips, guest speakers, and online resources. Our little group even made the local weekly free newspaper.

GetAJob

In July 2011, I received a call from a Charlotte recruiter, who connected me with a hiring manager in Boston and a team leader in Trenton. I’ve been working from my remote home office ever since.

Based on my experiences leading a job-networking group during the recession, here’s what I know for certain about career searches:

  • An objective at the top of the page says your resume hasn’t been updated since the ‘80s. Instead, you should bring your new wave CV into the digital age, and feature a concise but keyword-packed summary of skills and abilities that doesn’t give away your age.
  • It’s okay to be unemployed, but it’s not okay to whine about it. Be ready with a 30-second “elevator speech” that explains your situation and your next career move while being true to yourself and relatively positive.
  • Who you know might be your next boss. Spread the word about your situation so someone who knows someone you know can help you, but don’t spread dirt about your past. Plant the seeds of experience and a positive attitude, and flowers will bloom instead.
  • Stamps – ‘memba them? My stepson was among a thousand applicants for one of 35 paid internships at the Federal Reserve the summer before his senior year in college. After the interview, he listened to his brilliant stepmom J and mailed a paper thank-you note to the hiring manager. Two weeks into his internship, Tony noticed his note on the manager’s desk.
  • Attend career search meetings like weekly status project meetings. Most metro areas still hold career-search support groups, and the saints on Earth who run them have a finger on the pulse of the local economy.
  • Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. The older you are, the longer it will likely take to find a suitable next career. Do what you can to take care of yourself and your family, and it’s okay to enjoy a respite. Take the kids or grandkids to low-cost museums and tourist spots.

When you recover from your job loss, you might find as I did that the time for some rest and self-reflection led to something even better. I’m now working for the biggest competitor of the company that laid me off in 2008.🙂

(These opinions reflect only those of the author.)

 

 

 

 

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Skills That Today’s Writers Need: A Preliminary Literature Review

It’s not easy being a writer any more.

I started my career as a community journalist. That style came easily to me: Write the most important hook first, in a way that made readers continue past the first sentence or two. Then I evolved to a writer of print brochures to sell brokerage services to a known audience (sales literature, as opposed to advertising). Now, I’m an editorial designer for the country’s largest bank-holding company. Needless to say, I don’t write like I used to report.

What skills must modern writers master?

Effective writers need the ability to translate their messages into multimodal structure. DePalma and Alexander (2015) compared writing multimodal compositions to “a bag full of snakes”. (That analogy made me laugh, too.) According to its abstract, “Findings from focus group interviews and written reflections show that students’ attempts to draw on their print-based rhetorical knowledge while composing multimodally worked well when they perceived print-based and multimodal composing tasks as similar, but they faced significant difficulties when they perceived the need to adapt their print-based composing knowledge to suit new or unfamiliar aspects of multimodal composing” (p. 182). Oh, good, I’m not the only one.

Writers who want to publish their works need also to sell themselves. Wilkins observed that writers who want to publish for a living have to market themselves differently in the digital age. “A significant threat to productive writing habits is the publishing industry’s increasing insistence that writers develop an ‘author platform’, that is, a digital authorial identity that can be leveraged to build markets and increase sales. In the 21st century, book sales are increasingly dependent upon a reciprocal flow of communication between writers and readers” (p. 67). A college friend has published two books available on Amazon.com, and I think Patrick Chiles has mastering this sales concept on author’s page. It’s true; we expect authors to offer a credible, persuasive bio on Amazon.com before we select the “Buy now” button, and young people might expect the author to respond immediately to tweets and posts.

Journalists should expect social media as part of their job description. I can empathize with the plight of print-based sports reporters who adapted to tweeting scores and updates instead. Roberts and Emmonds (2016) found that, “Providing contextual insight, the researchers interviewed 10 of the subject journalists to discern how they use Twitter for game-day coverage. Results indicate a more opinion-based use of Twitter during live reporting, shifts in reporting and writing routines, and widely varied opinions about social media’s effects on sports journalism” (p. 97). That research leads Huffington Post contributors to conclude that faster, immediate news sharing sacrifices objectivity.

I’m certain more research requires a more narrow scope of study. I’d like to leverage the insights shared by Sutherland and Deegan in their book Text Editing, Print and the Digital World (2009). “This important book brings together leading textual critics, scholarly editors, technical specialists and publishers to discuss whether and how existing paradigms for developing and using critical editions are changing to reflect the increased commitment to and assumed significance of digital tools and methodologies” according to its abstract. Not surprisingly, copies of the book are available for downloading through the KSU library.

The goal of the National Writing Project (NWP) conducted from 2010 to 2012 was to “to create a framework to guide teachers working with students on creating multimodal compositions”, and it found that the “five dimensions the committee found to be critical to multimodal composing: artifact, rhetorical skills, substance, process management and technical skills, and habits of mind” (p. 79). According to Sandra Murphy, “The process of composing becomes much more complex because so many multimodal productions are collaborative. That’s a new direction that people are thinking more and more about. There is a need to be able to look at processes of collaboration and how students manage them as being a kind of skill. You want to foster that so people can be successful in college and in the world of work” (p. 84).

For my next task, I will develop a research problem and question when focusing on technical skills needed by today’s successful writers.

References

Chiles, P. Patrick Chiles. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Patrick-Chiles/e/B006VWUXOY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1466366739&sr=8-1

 DePalma, M., & Alexander, K. P. (2015). A bag full of snakes: Negotiating the challenges of multimodal composition. Computers and Composition, 37, 182-200. doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2015.06.008

Roberts, C., & Emmons, B. (2016). Twitter in the press box: How a new technology affects game-day routines of print-focused sports journalists. International Journal of Sport Communication, 9(1), 97. doi:10.1123/IJSC.2015-0113

Sutherland, K., & Deegan, M. (2009). Text editing, print and the digital world. Farnham, England: Routledge.

Wahleithner, J. M. (2014). The National Writing Project’s multimodal assessment project: Development of a framework for thinking about multimodal composing. Computers and Composition, 31(Multimodal Assessment), 79-86. doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2013.12.004

Wilkins, K. (2014). Writing resilience in the digital age. New Writing: The International Journal for The Practice & Theory Of Creative Writing, 11(1), 67-76. doi:10.1080/14790726.2013.870579

(These opinions reflect only those of the author.)

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