Social media has changed most of our lives over the past decade, in some ways for the better and in some ways for the worse. Until a few years ago it would be unthinkable for many of us to upload our most intimate thoughts, feelings and even pictures and videos online for the world to scrutinize but now with Facebook and Twitter especially, it’s an everyday part of our personal and professional lives that we don’t even think twice about. But this lack of foresight could prove your undoing.
The social network
The job market is a wider and more heavily populated place now than it ever has been before and employers have began using less conventional methods for sourcing their potential employees. Scouring social media is just one of these methods but it is fast becoming one of the most popular, so if you’re on the look-out for a new job, having some kind of social media presence is certainly recommended. Of course (as with most things) social media can be a double-edged sword and whilst business-centric sites such as LinkedIn shouldn’t cause you any problems, sites which are geared more towards personal and social lives such as Facebook should be used with great caution if you’re in the job market.
Digging for dirt
While Facebook is (for the most part) a private site where your profile page can only be viewed in full by your confirmed ‘friends’, there are ways around it for those with enough technical savvy so if you’re a job seeker you really shouldn’t be posting anything you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see. A recent survey undertaken by ‘careerbuilder.co.uk’ has revealed that more than 4 in 10 employers have at some point completely discarded a job seekers CV after checking up on their Facebook page and finding content that dissuades them from the candidate. This might prove a shocking statistic but really it makes a lot of sense. It used to be almost impossible for employers to dig up any substantial dirt on their potential employees but now the vetting process has been made so much easier by social media.
If your Facebook profile is full of ‘drunken night out’ photos and offensive comments, you won’t come across as an employable individual. It’s not only these kind of obvious faux pas that need to be ironed out of your profile though. One of the most common reasons for employers knocking back candidates is that their qualifications listed on Facebook and their qualifications listed on their CV’s didn’t match up.
Set your privacy settings
This cannot possibly be underlined enough. It is actually surprisingly simple to activate your Facebook privacy settings so that only your friends can see your photos, your political or religious affiliations and your posts. There is also an option that allows you to check what your profile would look like to an outsider who was attempting to view your profile.
It doesn’t have to be forever, just until you’re settled in a new job, but you should really think about clearing some of the less flattering material from your profile. Any comments that could be interpreted as being racist, sexist, homophobic or discriminatory in any way should be removed as should memberships to any groups that may post offensive material. Photos that show you in an unfavorable light should be ‘untagged’ and any comments made on your walls by friends that may seem distasteful should also be deleted. This might not seem important but quite often we are judged on the company we keep as much as we are on our own merits.
Keep two profiles
If setting your privacy settings doesn’t feel like enough you could always try running two concurrent profiles. By keeping a ‘business’ and a ‘personal’ profile, you’ll not only have to worry less about tempering your personal profile but you’ll have one set aside specifically for making business contacts, conversing with co-workers and keeping everyone at the company up-to-date with your current progress. Of course it’s still possible that someone might find their way into your personal account and end up seeing something you don’t want them to see (especially in circumstances where business and personal lives overlap), but as long as you’re careful and keep your personal account private, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Think before you type
It sounds so obvious but it can be all too easy to fall into bad habits when you’re on a social media spree. One flippant comment could theoretically lose you a potential job if it’s seen by an employer who disapproves. Of course everyone is titled to an opinion but Facebook and social media in general has made it far too easy for people to let spur of the moment thoughts become digital fact and once it’s out there it can be almost impossible to bring it back.
About the Author
Amy Fowler writes for De Poel – Experts in non-permanent staffing solutions.