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18 Tips for Facebook Privacy in a Job Search
In today’s Internet-based society, social media is one of the most important aspects of the modern job search. More and more employers are using social media networks like Facebook and Twitter to post jobs, promote current openings and even do research about potential candidates.
This means it is more important than ever, especially if you are an active social media user, to make sure your accounts are appropriate for your job search. Remember, you don’t say something out loud you wouldn’t want on the front page of the local newspaper. This rings especially true for Facebook. The pictures you posted in college of that pool party you and your buddies had last summer probably aren’t the most flattering to you or your buddies. It’s a near certainty the fun those pictures represent wasn’t intended to cost you your dream job. Furthermore, if the pictures you post on Facebook aren’t something you’d want your grandmother to see, the HR Department at your company doesn’t want to see them either.
Here are a few other tips for getting your Facebook Profile in job hunting shape
- Avoid any comments that could be interpreted as racist, sexist or discriminatory.
- Remove or untag photos of you that show you in an unfavorable light. Also, carefully manage your album privacy settings.
- Look at your wall or profile page. Remove comments from your friends that seem distasteful.
- Look at the apps on your profile. Does their purpose portray you well?
- Which groups do you hold memberships? If you belong to “It’s 5 am, I’m drunk, and on Facebook” or any similar groups, you probably want to leave them.
- Check the locks
Before you take any drastic actions with your Facebook profile page, take a quick look at your profile’s privacy settings page. If you have not changed your settings in a long time, you can see they have gotten much more complex. You can set up blanket rules, such as only friends can see your status updates. You will always have the option to make the setting less restrictive. You should always go with less visible and more restrictive settings. That way, you can have peace of mind without worrying who may be seeing what.
- Consolidate your audience
Going beyond basic privacy settings, more informed Facebook users will put their friends into specific groups. It is helpful to make specific groups such as school contacts, personal friends, or professional contacts. Do you have friends that like to post inappropriate comments and pictures on your wall? You can limit their access.
- The Front Page Newspaper Rule
An ideal standard to live by on social media is “The Front Page Newspaper Rule.” In other words, if you do not want the front page of a newspaper to publish it, you should not post it. Regardless of how substantial your privacy settings are, you do not want to offend an employer with an off-putting photo or an offensive comment.
- The “About” you section
Many Facebook users forget about the “About” section and leave it blank. This section is typically publicly viewable, if you change the settings, so you should take the time to put in your work experience, education, languages, certifications, and more so you future employers can get a picture of who you are beyond a simple resume.
- Be yourself
Do not be scared to be yourself on Facebook! Yes, all of these tips, suggestions, warnings and privacy settings make it seem like you should not step out of line but keep in mind that Facebook is intended to be a fun, social place. Do not fret about having innocent vacation photos on your profile or kind comments throughout your timeline. It is integral that you can balance your professional and personal life so you will be in a much better place.
If you have people from your past, who will not stop pestering you with inappropriate material or may make it difficult to land a job, block them from your Facebook page. Even if you have friends in common, you will not see that person and they will not be notified when they are blocked.
- Approve tags before they appear on your timeline
While you may be extremely cautious about what you decide to post on Facebook, your friends may not be as careful as you. If you are worried that a friend may share an inappropriate photo of you, and you will not be able to catch it in time, alter your settings so you can review all tags before they appear on your timeline. When you are in your privacy settings, click on “Timeline and Tagging”. After, next to “Who can add things to my timeline?” change “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline” to enabled.
- Hide your friends’ posts from your timeline
Similarly, if you are concerned about what your friends may be posting on your timeline, you can hide your friends’ posts from your timeline. While under the “Timeline and Tagging” settings, choose “Who can see things on my timeline?” and adjust the settings to “Who can see what others post on your timeline?”
- Search your old Posts
After you have taken all of the many privacy steps to ensure that employers do not see anything you have posted in the past, there are always situations where Facebook posts get leaked anyway. Thus, it is critical you go back through all of your old posts to ensure that nothing embarrassing is still visible.
- See what other people can see
After you verified that all of your Facebook privacy settings are up to date, you will want to have a look at what the public can currently see when they look at your profile. In order to do this function, go to your profile and click “View As” at the lower right-hand corner of your cover photo. You can scroll through your profile and see what anyone who is or is not connected with you on Facebook can view. Are there any posts on here that could poorly affect your employer’s hiring decision? If yes, change the post from “Public” to “Friends”, or even delete the post altogether.
- Change your search settings
By default, anyone who has your phone number or email address can locate your Facebook profile. If you want friends to be able to find you this way, you should keep this setting in place. Otherwise, you will want to go to your privacy settings and view the “Who can Look me Up?” setting. Think about changing your phone and email settings to just your friends or just unclick “Let other search engines link to your timeline.” Keep in mind that employers may still be able to find you; it will just take a little more prodding.
- Timeline and Tagging – the “Only Me” setting
Right before you submit a job application, you may want to quickly change your timeline privacy settings so that only you can view what get tagged or posted to your timeline. The “Only Me” setting ensures that you have the greatest amount of privacy control over your posts. Not only that, if you change a post to “Only Me” you can come back later and make it public or visible to friends only. That way, you do not risk offending the friends who tagged you or shared content to your timeline.
- Avoid Scams
There are a lot of different scams that are trying to take advantage of Facebook users who are trying to whitewash their profile. One of the most recent ones promises to protect your privacy if you copy and paste a “Privacy Alert Notice” in your status. Do not trust third party apps to instantly take care of your privacy concerns because, more often than not, they are completely ineffective. Always go to Snopes.com to check out the validity of such claims.