There’s a lot of controversy lately about prospective employers asking for or demanding an applicant’s Facebook login as part of the application process. It’s one thing for an outsider to get lucky or find a mutual friend, but is this an invasion of privacy? With so much personal information available on the Internet, it’s almost impossible to protect yourself from someone smart enough to find a back door to your personal accounts. The best defense is to take steps to make sure that once they gain access to your social media accounts, the information they find works to your advantage.
Here are 10 tips that will help make Facebook and LinkedIn work for you:
1. Remove your birth year. A prospective employer doesn’t need to know your age. It’s not supposed to matter or figure into a hiring decision, but don’t give an employer more information than they need or could work against you.
2. Check your messages and posts often. Friends may think it’s funny to post outrageous pictures or make off-the-wall comments, but an employer may not get the joke. Your Facebook profile page will also carry comments from your friends’ friends, which may be a little harder to monitor and control.
3. Keep your posts positive and G-rated. This not the time to rant about your miserable boyfriend or describe the tattoo you’re getting where the sun doesn’t shine.
4. Post a professional quality picture. No avatars, animals, cartoon characters…you get the idea. Switch out the picture of you at 10 years old, wearing a bikini or last year’s Halloween costume.
5. Let your friends know you’re looking for a job and to keep their comments clean and positive. If you’ve got a problem Facebook friend or LinkedIn contact, consider un-friending them until you land your new job.
6. Carefully consider new friend or contact requests. It may be fun to have hundreds of friends, but one of those requests could be coming from a prospective employer, trying to fly under the radar and get access.
7. Complete your LinkedIn profile and post your most recent resume.
8. Request recommendations from friends and former co-worker or boss. The best way to get a recommendation is to write one. Write some short recommendations for connections, and you may get some in return.
9. Get active on LinkedIn. Join in group discussions that show off your job knowledge, experience and personality.
10. Update your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles often. Make your status reports interesting, thoughtful and mini promotions for your job search. Mention books you’re reading, community involvement, projects or new things you are learning that are job-related.
Use your time on social media sites to help you find a job. Ask a friend to give you some feedback on your page or profiles. What needs to go? What can you add? What new friends or contacts can you add that can help in your job search? Keep your social media sites and ready for all eyes to see. Do you have other tips? Share them in the Comments Section.