When we think about social media, Facebook is probably the first site that comes to mind. No surprise since there are over 1.23 billion Facebook users worldwide (Wikipedia). With that many users, there are bound to be some missteps as people post, share, and network online. In fact, people are often surprised at just HOW impactful their Facebook activity can be. To avoid negative fallout in professional and social circles, Facebook users need to be aware of their professional reputations on Facebook. If you are a Facebook user, consider the following:
- Before you rant on Facebook about your commute to work, remember that anyone, including current and future employers, may see what you post (Doyle, 2015). Posts peppered with swear words, alcohol consumption, and complaints about employers or coworkers are not flattering.
- Read through your posts and the comments others make to your wall and remove potentially offensive material (Doyle, 2015). Consider setting your privacy settings so you are prompted to approve any posts to your wall or pictures you are tagged in.
- Adjust your privacy settings so only “friends” can see your posts, photos, religious and political views. To see what shows when people search for you on Facebook, click on “view” on your wall (Doyle, 2015).
- If you don’t want to go through years of posts or are worried about past Facebook content, you can limit old posts that show on your timeline (Bouchard, 2013).
- Consider restricting who may post on your timeline so friends or acquaintances don’t say something that is unflattering or could embarrass you (Bouchard, 2013). A friend may think posting a picture of you passed out surrounded by beer bottles is funny, but an employer most likely will not.
- Evaluate your profile picture (the picture that shows when you post a comment). Is it a picture that is acceptable for a potential employer to see and associate with you?
- Remove or untag photos that portray you in a negative way. To review photos you have shared or the photos you are tagged in, use the Facebook activity log. Remember, posts you may have hidden on your timeline could be viewed on someone else’s timeline if you were tagged in a post or picture.
- If you have created an anonymous account on another platform, make sure you are not using the same profile picture as your Facebook account. Thanks to TinEye (a reverse image search), it is easy to plug in a picture and find a connection that identifies the creator of anonymous posts (Bouchard, 2013).
- Know that others may be able to see the apps you have installed in your profile (Doyle, 2015). Installing an app that lists the closest marijuana dispensary or an app that displays DUI check points doesn’t inspire confidence.
- Remember the groups you have joined, such as “Creative excuses for calling in sick to work” may be visible to others (Doyle, 2013). In addition, groups you’ve joined could disclose your political and religious beliefs or even a family history of cancer.
- Be aware your posts may appear in search engine results. Many search engines cache your posts, which can display search results several months after you’ve removed them from the actual page. (Bouchard, 2013)
Using Facebook for Job Search
LinkedIn dominates the market in terms of social media websites for showcasing professional accomplishments. However, Facebook does have options that allow you to highlight your professional credentials. Further, Facebook has done studies on Facebook users and employment to evaluate what connections are most likely to help with a job search (Facebook use by job-seekers). Here are some ideas for using Facebook to enhance your odds for successful employment.
Sort and classify your friends so you target professional content to your business network.
It is possible to sort all your Facebook contacts into lists, such as professional contacts. Once your lists are identified, you can create content that targets specific lists. Click here to learn how to create lists
Remember that even when taking precautions, current or potential employers may be able to see your posts so don’t post or share anything you wouldn’t want a supervisor to see (Adams, 2015).
Post content and respond to other people’s postings. Maintain your professional relationships by acknowledging people’s posts with a comment or by “liking” the post (Adams, 2015).
Join professional groups on Facebook. Often people develop network and relationships within online groups, which can be a great way to hear about job openings and other professional opportunities (Jacoway, 2015).
Follow companies you are interested in. Sharing information you learned via Facebook in a cover letter or in an interview is an excellent way to illustrate your interest in working for a company (Jacoway, 2015). For example, if you were applying for a job at a restaurant, sharing that you were thrilled to see nutritional information about your favorite meal on the restaurant’s Facebook page shows you are interested in and supportive of the restaurant.
Keep your eye out for job openings or volunteer opportunities your friends may post on their walls. Companies will often ask their employees to post openings for them. This is a good way to find a job and may give you a leg up when applying since you are already connected or networked with a current employee (Hannon, 2015).
Use tools to discover unknown connections. You can use Glassdoor, a job and recruiting site, to learn about an employer, research company salaries and see where your Facebook friends work when you link Glassdoor to your Facebook account. (Hannon, 2015).
Sign up for Facebook apps. Reppler and SimpleWash are Facebook timeline scanning tools that evaluate your pictures and timeline posts for tone, appropriateness and any signs of someone hacking your account. (Hannon, 2015)
Adams, S. (2015, February 5). Four Ways to use Facebook to Find a Job. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2015/02/05/four-ways-to-use-facebook-to-find-a-jobfour-ways-to-use-facebook-to-find-a-job/#177eff5851f5
Bouchard, J. (2013, March). Prepping your Facebook for a Job Hunt. Retrieved from: http://www.onwardsearch.com/2013/03/fbjobhunt/
Doyle, A. (2015, July 6). What not to do on Facebook when you’re Job Searching. Retrieved from: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/facebookjobsearchgroups/a/facebookjobsearch.htm
Hannon, K. (2015, April 22). Using Facebook to Find your Next Job. Retrieved from: http://www.aarp.org/work/job-hunting/info-2015/facebook-job-search-networking.html
Jacoway, K. (2015, September) Session 3: Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media Platforms [Webinar].