More and more employers are using Facebook as a tool in vetting potential candidates for employment. With the rise of social networking sites, we all have some kind of online presence that may reveal experiences that a potential employer would frown upon. You know what I’m talking about: the keg stand during college, a bachelorette party, maybe even comments from friends or relatives that may be embarrassing and childish.
The fact is, you don’t know what your future employer’s religious background, home life, or sensibilities are and it’s in your best interest to scale back your Facebook profile to the least offensive level as possible. There are opportunities to find jobs using social media tools so make sure you give yourself the best chance to succeed.
To ensure that your Facebook profile is acceptable on a professional level, read on to find out how to optimize your Facebook security settings and get your profile in shape for a job interview.
How to Optimize Your Facebook Security Settings
- Log into to Facebook.
- Click on the “Account” tab in the top right corner of the main page.
- Open the “Privacy Settings” in the drop down menu on the Account tab.
- Open the “Customize Settings” in the left corner of the box, describing your current settings.
- This will open a menu allowing you to choose your individual privacy settings. I recommend the following settings to ensure your profile security: “Friends Only on everything”. This not only keeps the settings fairly simple, but will ensure that your prospective employer cannot view this information without first being added as a friend. If you do have prospective employers and colleagues as “Friends,” you can also restrict what specific people can see by adjusting the “Custom Settings” and creating a list of which friends’ viewing capabilities you want to restrict.
- Go to the top right corner and click on “Preview My Profile.” This will allow you to see what your prospective employer and the majority of people will see when opening your profile. If you aren’t satisfied, keep making customized adjustments until you like what you see. You can also type in a specific person’s name to see how your profile will be displayed to them.
- When you are happy with your security settings, click on the “Back to Privacy Settings” tab.
- The next step is to look at your profile picture. To do so, click on the “Profile” link in the top right of the Facebook toolbar. This will take you to your profile page, where you can view your profile information. Since many times, even those who you have not added as a friend can view your profile photo, I highly recommend looking at this photo and ensuring that it is professional in nature. If not, it may be time to have a friend or family member take a photo of you in a business suit or in a professional setting. To change the photo, click on the photo itself, and then click on the tab “Change Profile Picture.” You can upload a photo directly from your computer.
If you’re a job seeker, the preceding 8 steps will provide you adequate privacy during your job search. Maintaining the above settings will prevent the standard HR representative or interviewer from screening you based on your Facebook profile. But some others may need to take it even further – specifically military, law enforcement, and federal and state civilian job applicants requiring security clearance.
For anyone with a job requiring security clearance, it’s safe to assume that you will be screened not by the Facebook abilities of an HR representative, but rather by a trained investigator who is likely capable of finding a way to view your full restricted profile. In this case, it is absolutely in your best interest to scale back not only your security settings, but your entire profile.
As a military member, I maintain an extremely scaled-back Facebook profile. There are very few tagged photos of myself, and I screen each comment on my wall. In addition, there is very little information associated with my profile.
However, these are personal choices, and I know plenty of other military personnel with robust Facebook profiles. Regardless of what you choose to do, just make sure you are projecting a positive and professional Facebook image. A lot more people see it than you might think, and the last thing you want is for social media to ruin your career.
In this modern age, you are often judged by your online presence in addition to your physical presentation, resume, and interviewing skills. As such, getting your Facebook profile taken care of is just as important as shaving on the morning of the interview, wearing a clean suit, and researching the nature of the company you are applying to.
What tips do you have for cleaning up your Facebook profile and other social media accounts? Do you think that social media has a large impact on your ability to get a job? Share your thoughts in the comments below.