Employers are increasingly using Facebook and other social networking sites to ‘vet’ candidates as well as check up on existing staff. In fact they are being advised to by business magazines, and being sold software that helps them do it. Some might think this is unfair or even claim it’s illegal, but it’s becoming a reality of the job application process.
If you can get fired for posting comments about your boss on Facebook or Twitter, then you can certainly be passed over in a CV screening or selection process thanks to 5 minutes of desk research from a hiring manager or HR bod. Or perhaps you already have.
Have you mysteriously failed to get an interview with the perfect CV or failed to get invited back after you nailed an interview? Embarrassing drunken photos of you, your mates and a rubber chicken all over Facebook? Ah-ha….
So maybe it’s time you got your house in order and clean up your Facebook profile. Here are our top 5 tips on how to spring clean your social reputation and spruce up your online employability:
1) The Nuclear Option
Delete all your accounts. That’s it, easy. Well, not that easy, each social networking site has a different set of rules about how to delete an account.
Facebook has a handy ‘deactivate’ option which saves all your history and makes you invisible. So you can come back later if you change your mind. Or just go for the delete option if you don’t trust yourself. The Telegraph has a handy how-to guide.
2) The Lockdown
This is the more subtle version – the tuning and throttling if you will – also particularly useful if you have friended your boss or coworkers and don’t want them to know you are looking for a job.
Get your house in order on Facebook by checking your privacy settings and making sure nothing is public. Then control leakage from your network by sorting your contacts into groups and allocating them different privacy settings; or unfriending ones you don’t want. You can control to a fine degree of detail who can see your photos, wall posts and so on.
If you have a Twitter account, you can set the option to ‘protect my tweets’ so only people you approve can follow you there too.
3) Engage Stealth mode
Would you like to keep using all your favourite social networks, not have to worry about privacy settings but make it nigh-impossible for employers to check you out online? Then all you’ve got to do is cloak your identity.
You can change your name on Facebook under account settings. To whatever you want. You keep your friends, history, photos … but make it a lot harder for an employer to check you out!
4) Cover your tracks across the web
It’s important to consider that it’s not just your naughty Facebook profile that needs tidying up. Try Googling your name (and combinations with your university or last employer); prospective employers will too. If there’s anything that makes you blush, think about how you can remove, hide, or dissociate from your identity – either by making changes yourself or by emailing the webmaster. You have rights over your personal data online.
Going forward, try to avoid using your ‘real name’ (or facebook/twitter/linked in ‘connect’) for logins, forum posts and blog comments. Go anonymous or use a made up name. If you can’t think of one, try minor characters from Star Wars.
5) Go on a charm offensive
Why all this effort to hide? Go all out and use all the weapons of social networking and your public online footprints to your advantage in your job search.
LinkedIn is a great place to start. Create a profile emphasising your achievements and get former colleagues to recommend you. Create a Twitter account and start interacting with potential employers. If you want to go crazy, create an infographic CV or even turn your Facebook profile into a page and link to these from your job applications. You are the brand (not Stuart Baggs).
We hope you found these top five tips on cleaning up your online / Facebook profiles useful. Please let us know if they work for you or you have any other tips to add, and good luck with your job search.