Guest post by Jeri Johansen
Facebook. People either love it or hate it. One thing’s for sure, its popularity can’t be beat – Facebook has now surpassed Google as the most visited site in the U.S. with over a billion users. It didn’t take long for employers to understand that a lot of information can be learned about prospective employees from their Facebook page. While those pictures of you doing a keg stand provide a great memory of a great party, job recruiters are not usually amused by this activity.
Effective January 1st, 2013, new state laws make it illegal for some employers to demand access to their worker’s Facebook accounts, although that does not mean they won’t try to view them. It’s hard to believe that employers had been taking it upon themselves to demand employee’s social media passwords! This tactic just screams Title VII violation. Just think of the type of information an employer could possibly learn from your social media page: gender, race, religion, sexual orientation; the list goes on and on.
Whether or not hiring managers should use social media for employment screening, recent surveys show that about 37% do check Facebook before making a hiring decision. Below is some information to help you clean up your Facebook page before embarking on your post-graduate career search.
Take the time to set up your privacy settings so that only “friends” can view your timeline. This may seem like a no brainer, but if you restrict a lurker’s access to your information, it makes it all the more difficult to not only find you, but to dig up dirt on you.
Quite possibly the biggest indication of a person’s “social media maturity” is their pictures. Would you be interested in going into business with someone whose first impression of themselves is a picture of them chugging a 40-ounce beer and making an explicit hand gesture? Yeah, neither would your future employer.
What you choose to share about yourself on a wide-spread social platform says more about yourself than what you actually say. Constantly complaining about your life, putting other people down or stating controversial opinions with disregard to other’s feelings are all sure-fire ways to have strangers judge your personality before actually getting to know you. So you had a bad day at work? Posting about it on Facebook makes it seem like you hate your job and could concern employers that you would bad mouth them as well.
Not being an English major is no excuse for improper grammar or spelling errors. Profanity is another huge turnoff for employers, with 61% saying that they view the use of profanity on social media sites negatively. Maybe you have great things to say but you can lose your credibility if your spelling or grammar is off. Let’s review the following post: “Im so exsited for there company to schedule my inter-view”. Although you may mean well, this post could be viewed by the interviewer who may become “not so ecxsited” to schedule your interview.
Your “likes” on Facebook can be extremely telling. While you may well be a fan of “Tattoos by Deviants”, it may come off as unappealing to some more conservative employers.
While changing or updating your Facebook profile is a good practice for job searching, it’s important to remember that nothing you post on the internet is ever completely hidden. I can still find pictures of myself that I posted during my “only cool people post self-timer shots of them alone in the bathroom” phase in high school. If in 10 years from now you think you could be embarrassed by the stuff on your social media page, don’t post it! You wouldn’t want a profile picture or status update to be the determining factor between you and a competing candidate!
About the author: This post was written by Jeri Johansen, PHR –HR Blogger and Manager of Human Resources at Crimcheck.com and Co-Chair of the 2013 Northern Ohio Human Resource Conference (www.nohrc.org). Crimcheck.com specializes in employment screening and background checks. You can follow Crimcheck.com on Facebook and Twitter also.”