Don’t Let Facebook Derail Your Career
You might be thinking, “But my Facebook is private, what does that have to do with my career?” The answer. Maybe everything. In this digital era, nearly everything about us is available with a few keystrokes. It’s becoming increasingly important to pay attention to our digital footprint. The digital record of our lives has the memory of an elephant and can stay around forever. Once it’s out there, it’s nearly impossible to erase.
There has been a steady rise in the number of employers using social media sites to research job applicants. Although this practice may seem unethical and intrusive, it’s not illegal. Legislation has been proposed that would prevent misuse of these types of employment practices, but at this time, there is nothing to regulate it. And although there are privacy settings on Facebook and its counterparts, employers can and do find ways around them.
Facebook may affect job opportunities
As you begin your search for jobs or professional internships carefully consider how your Facebook profile makes you look to prospective employers. Is it clean? Does it make you appear to be a good professional candidate? You don’t have to censor everything you post on Facebook, just be aware of how it might appear to others. A good rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see it, don’t put it on Facebook.
A questionable Facebook presence could negatively impact your chances of finding a job after graduation. While it may seem personal and irrelevant to you, it may be the deciding factor between you and other candidates, in the same way as volunteer activities and interests on your resume. It’s not just Facebook that you need to be aware of, other social media sites count as well, but Facebook, because it seems more private and casual than LinkedIn and Twitter can be the most vulnerable.
In the worst-case scenario, what should you do if an employer asks for your Facebook login information? Scary, but yes, this has been happening more frequently in the workplace. It’s a tough call. Refusing could cost you the job. However, think about whether you want to work for a company that invades your privacy to that extent. It’s a personal decision only you can make.
- Don’t post anything that you don’t want a prospective employer to see.
- Don’t make negative comments about past or current employers.
- Don’t share any confidential information from past employers.
- Don’t post anything that contradicts what you’ve put on your application or resume. I know you’d never fudge information, but…
- It should be a no-brainer, but…don’t post any illegal or unethical behavior or photos. Yes, that does include those pictures of that wild party last year… Remember the “Grandma Rule.”
- Think twice before posting any radical or discriminatory views. I know, free speech and all that, but be smart about sharing everything that’s in your head.
- Consider changing the privacy settings on Facebook, so only your friends can access it.
- Clean up your Facebook profile before you start looking for a job or internship.
- Remove inappropriate or offensive comments and photos.
- Talk about interests and hobbies.
- Share pictures of positive educational organizations or activities you’re involved in.
- Pay attention to your communication skills. It may seem silly, but spelling might count.
- Be aware of what pages you “Like.” You don’t need to “Like” pages you think a potential employer will like, but do avoid inappropriate pages.
- Watch the friends you keep. Even if you’re very careful to keep it clean, the friends you choose can say a lot about your character to a prospective employer.
- If you’re overly concerned about Facebook’s effect on your job prospects, take it down completely.
On the job
Your Facebook vigilance doesn’t end at the office door. Just because you’ve landed the job, doesn’t mean the professional world has stopped watching. No matter how professional you are at work, or how fantastic your level of performance is, you can still do serious damage to your career if you aren’t careful about your social media usage.
- Don’t make disparaging comments about your employer.
- Don’t talk about how much you hate your job, your co-workers, or your boss.
- Don’t share any information about your company that might possibly be considered confidential, even if you think it’s positive.
- Don’t post to Facebook on work time if it’s against company policy.
- Don’t talk about looking for another job.
- Be aware of company social media usage policies.
- Post personal, educational, volunteer or community accomplishments.
- Feel free to post comments and photos that show your involvement with family.
It’s not all bad
A clean and positive Facebook presence can actually help you land a job and move up the ladder. If used wisely, Facebook can help you create a favorable impression of an intelligent, creative, motivated, multi-faceted, interesting person that many employers find extremely attractive. Don’t be paranoid about social media, but do be aware of what you’re putting out there into the internet ether. And make sure you remember the “Grandma Rule.”