With the majority of people in Australia who are looking for jobs have a Facebook account, and probably have had one for a while; other people can see who we are as a person through simply viewing our profile. They can see what you like, what you get up to, who your friends are, and what naughty things you get up to at 2am. By reading someone’s Facebook Wall, you really get to know who that person is. That is why more and more employers are now scrounging through Facebook to see what dirt they can get on potential employees. So the question everyone is asking: Should you let your future employer look at your Facebook profile?
In my opinion, no employer should demand access to your Facebook account, and if they do, I would simply say no. I am a privacy advocate and my Facebook is locked down very hard, and I do that for a reason. For starters, I don’t even use my full last name on Facebook. Here is a list of other things I do, and what I strongly recommend everyone to do to protect your privacy on Facebook:
- Have everything set to “Friends Only”
- Disabled Facebook places, so friends can’t check you in to places
- Don’t use apps (or avoid using them). In fact, I had the platform turned off for years until I wanted to use Facebook Chat through Windows Live Messenger
- Only let friends see your photo’s and tagged photo’s
- Set all of your contact information to friends only
- Untick everything so your friends that use applications can’t access your information
- Disallow people to view your game or application activity
- Turn off Instant Personalisation
- Turn of Public search
- Set it so only friends or friends of friends can find you
- Set it so only friends can see your friend list, education, location, and likes
- Delete any comment you make, or status update you write within a month
- Limit public conversations to a minimum
- Avoid stating your location or where you will be
- Check your privacy settings at least once a month for Facebook changes
- Only add friends that you know and regularly talk to
- Don’t add work colleagues or bosses
- Use Friend lists – segregate your social circle
- Be careful on who’s wall you write comments on because you have no control over whether that is public or private
- Delete your account, and start over
By doing the above, my Facebook profile is essentially bare to everyone who isn’t my friend. The only thing people can see is my name, profile picture and Facebook URL which you can not hide.
Why I do the above is for a number of reasons.
- Strangers cannot find information about me
- Only those people I trust can read about me
- If Facebook does get hacked (or has a bug) and all my information becomes public, I’ll be safe as there is no information
- Employers cannot snoop around on your personal lives
Alternatives To Adding Your Employer On Facebook
However, the above does not stop the fact (or answer the question) on whether or not you should give your future employer access to your Facebook account or adding them as a friend. Many feel that if you don’t add your employer as a friend, you will simple not get the job. So what can you do about it, without turning them down?
Create a Fan Page of Yourself
I have created a public page about me (and my personal website) which everything I want public will be public. I use it to interact with other pages and people without it intervening with my privacy and life, and I only write positive things on my wall. If an employer asks for access to my Facebook account, I will just provide them with the page as it reflects who I am without giving them personal information of what I have been up to on the weekend.
Linked In is a great way to connect with your employers and employees. As I mentioned above, I don’t had work colleagues to my Facebook account. However, I add them to Linked In. I use Linked In in a positive manner and to network with people in my Industry.
Create a Blog/Website
I keep a Blog, and I have a number of website. Yet there are some negative and personal things on there, but I try to keep it to the absolute minimum. However, it is a good way to positively promote yourself. You may want to create an About.me page and purchase your name as a domain name.
Create A Twitter Account
Twitter is another useful tool to understand who a person is. I have to admit, recently, I have been creating tweets that are a little too personal then I would like, but it is a great way to interact with other people, and your future employers.
To Sum Up?
It’s important to know that what ever you publish online will mostly be never deleted. There will always be a copy of it out there somewhere. Remember to treat the alternatives differently to your personal Facebook account and keep it in a professional manner, because if they turn into something like your Facebook account, you will find it even harder to land a job. One other thing, make sure you have a professional email address. You don’t want to have an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org to give to your employers. I would suggest having a email@example.com or even better, firstname.lastname@example.org. To do this, simply buy a domain name, and install Google Apps on it.
Further Reading: Here are a few other resources and articles you can read on how to protect yourself online.