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Could Facebook stop you getting hired?
The web now plays a huge role in the recruitment process for both employers and for candidates. With the increasing prevalence of online CV searches, digital portfolios and online job boards, the recruitment process has firmly shifted into the online domain.
While the internet offers increased visibility and ease of application, it can also come with some risks for unsuspecting job seekers. Most hiring managers and recruiters will routinely carry out an internet search on anyone they might be interested in interviewing, and though many people actively monitor their online presence and are conscientious with their privacy settings, others are much more lax when it comes to their online footprint. Many forget that it’s not just their friends, but also professional contacts who will be looking them up online.
The risks of social media
Most people act differently on the weekends, compared to their Monday to Friday office persona, and in days gone by it was easier to separate your work life from your personal life. But with your personal life now far more searchable online, your behaviour when you’re off the clock can land you in hot water with an employer, or even prevent potential future employers from contacting you for an interview.
While it’s of course completely acceptable to let your hair down when you’re not working, the pictures you post and words you use on Facebook may draw a different picture out of context. In other words, you might think you’re simply posting a few photos of a good night out with friends, but a potential employee who only has limited access to your Facebook account could draw a different conclusion about your reliability.
What are recruiters looking for online?
In their search for the perfect candidate, it’s not surprising that many employers will turn to the internet for help in sourcing and researching candidates. They’ll not only be searching for a CV that fits their particular criteria, but they’ll also want to find a person who fits well with the outlook and the values of their organisation.
This is where your online interactions could let you down and sound alarm bells for a potential employer. No matter how strong your CV is, if an employer finds your online presence inappropriate or offensive, you could be jeopardising your chances of landing the role or even getting an interview. As people continue to record their lives on social networks, it’s very wise to adopt a considered and cautious approach to your online posting – especially when seeking work.
Bolster your security online
To keep your personal life personal, make sure you regularly review your settings on Facebook so that your posts are only visible to friends, and be careful of who you accept as a friend or follower.
It may help to log out of your accounts and run a search for yourself online – you might be surprised to see what comes up. Put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter or hiring manager and think critically about what you find. If it’s anything that would make you question reliability, commitment, professionalism or any other quality you’d want in a new hire, up your security or delete the post.
To check and upgrade your security settings, select the down arrow at the top right of your profile and click on Settings. From there, go through the Privacy, Timeline and Tagging, Blocking and Public Posts tabs to review and tighten your security.
Be selective with your posts
Monitor the photos and other updates you share, particularly on Facebook, as you don’t want photos that could be misunderstood, that might put off a potential employer, or that might reflect badly on an employer, to be findable online. Don’t forget that you can adjust the privacy settings of individual posts on Facebook, so you can make some things viewable only to select people, or if there’s something you want to be visible to everyone, such as a charity fundraiser, you can also make that public (but remember to return your settings to private once the post is uploaded).
You can also adjust your Facebook settings so that you have to approve any photo that anyone else tags you in – that way, you’re in the driver’s seat. Remember, without context, it will be easy for someone who has never met you or who only knows you from a CV to make fast – and negative – judgment calls.
Keep the personal and professional separate
It is wise to keep professional networks, such as LinkedIn, for career-related activity only and not link them up with your personal, more social accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. LinkedIn is designed for professional networking, so casual or personal updates and comments are best kept to a minimum.
You can even go a few steps further by creating a ‘professional’ Facebook account, keeping your personal account separate and harder to find by using a different name – for example, a nickname, your first name with your middle name, or a different surname.
Use language carefully
Though it may be tempting to vent frustrations online, avoid bad-mouthing fellow colleagues, your current/ex-boss or the company you work for. Of course, everyone needs to let off steam once in a while, but an outburst on the web may not be the best option.
Any employer would be wary of someone who airs their work frustrations in this way and you can never be completely sure of who’ll see your posting (via friends of friends, screenshots, and so on).
It goes without saying that foul language, inappropriate remarks or insults that are visible online will not put you in the best light – and remember, what you put online, even if it’s well hidden or later deleted, never really goes away.
For more tips on preparing for a meeting with a new potential employee, read our advice on how to make a memorable first impression in a job interview.