How Facebook Can Harm Your Future Job Prospects
Before Facebook and other social media platforms were born, hirers typically performed background checks by speaking directly with your past employers. These days, with the growth of social media platforms, especially Facebook, companies are now turning to the internet as an additional research tool to screen candidates. As opposed to making a decision about a job seeker solely based on his or her resume and interview, companies are also now using your social media profiles to help them make a decision on whether or not you’d be a good hire for the company.
The key to job hunting is to create a great first impression. This is true for your resume, cover letter and job interview. If you walk into an interview in a new suit with your shoes polished and hair brushed, you are going to immediately create a more positive first impression than had you walked into the interview with your shirt hanging out and your hair looking like you just woke up. The same is true for your Facebook profile.
Be aware of your image being projected by your online activity
For the most part, companies are not interested in how we spend our free time or weekends (as long as it’s legal!), however as a job seeker, the pictures you post, the comments you make or the pages you “like” can actually impact your future job prospects and cast you in a negative light. It goes without saying that bad mouthing your current employer or boss, making racist remarks or showing sexually explicit photos or videos will raise immediate red flags. However, many innocent activities such as celebrating your birthday with a couple of drinks or posting a status meant as a private joke between friends can also be misjudged by a person reading your Facebook page for the very first time.
What should I do?
Before you panic and begin deleting every online picture you own or have been tagged in the last 5 years, ensure that your privacy settings are on. You may think that your profile is on “private”, however many social media sites including Facebook regularly change and update their settings. The process can be a bit tedious, especially if you have several accounts, but it is your future job prospects that are at stake here so a social media clean-up won’t hurt.
In addition to your privacy settings there are various other ways you can appeal to a hirer who may be looking at your profile. This includes selecting a professional profile picture. It may not be your favorite picture, however a nice head shot of you smiling will create a better first impression.
The most important thing to remember is to be aware of the potential impression your Facebook profile (and other social media profiles) can have on your future job prospects. Spend some time to go through your profile and remove public information that may be interpreted in the wrong way. If you have to think about it, un-tag yourself or delete it – it’s not worth the risk.