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What employers are looking for on your Facebook page

Posted by mandyf on June 21, 2012

Facebook for most people is a fun diversion, so fun that they fail to put any real thought into what appears on their page. The problem with that is employers are, and that is current and potential employers alike. As Facebook became a bigger tool in the field of social networking, businesses began trying to harness its power to increase their visibility, and in the process found it was a relatively fast and free way to get an idea about what type of person an employee or potential employee might be when they are not on their best behavior.

According to recent surveys, around 30% of employers are now using Facebook as a screening tool for potential employees. While sites like Linkedin are nice and provide a far better picture of a persons professional qualifications, it is Facebook where people let their hair down and that is what employers want to see. The scary thing is, you may conduct yourself properly on Facebook but have a load of Facebook friends that act like idiots and make you look like an idiot by association even if that is not the case.

There are a few key things employers are checking for when they look at a Facebook profile, and if you are in the market for a job or even just in a position where you could be on the chopping block at work due to downsizing due to a tight economy, you may want to see how many of these things apply to you.

The first thing most employers look at are your pictures. Do you have pictures of yourself all skanked up for a party, or knocking back that third hit off of a beer bong? What about that picture of you passed out on a sofa with “balls” written across your forehead? Sure they may be fun for you and your friends, but to an employer that shows a lack of self control and points to a person that may not be reliable.

Does what you have posted on Facebook match what you have disclosed to your employer or potential employer about yourself? Something many employers cite seeing is that there are plenty of people that lie on one or both. Say for instance you’re resume lists you as a Michigan State grad form the class of ‘07, but your Facebook info points to you being a  grad of the Northwest Pennsyltucky class of ‘08, that is going to raise red flags and may lose you an interview altogether. It is not so much of an issue of where you graduated from so much as it is that you feel you need to misrepresent it.

Do you have posts in which you complain about your current job? Everyone has little beefs about their job now and then, but when you do it in a public forum it is not really appropriate. It may paint you as a complainer even if you are not one outside of that venue, and it shows a lack of professionalism.

What kind of status messages do you set? Do you ever write things like “I have such  hangover I wish I was dead”, or “I can’t wait to tie one on tonight with you guys!” and you have work the next day? Even silly things you wouldn’t think are a big deal like “taking a long lunch”, “So can’t wait to get out of here”, or “I’m surrounded by idiots” can land you in a lot of hot water.

Something that really bags a lot of people on Facebook is that they forget when they post things to walls there is a time stamp on them. Employers will often look to see if someone is really working on the Bates account or fertilizing their friends crops. With so many people into playing Facebook games and the heavy and constant social aspect of the posts to walls even when you don’t want something posted sometimes this is a dead giveaway of what you are really doing while on the company clock.

Finally, there is the friend aspect. Nearly everyone on Facebook with a fair amount of friends has at least one that is an idiot or just doesn’t think before they act. Sure you can remove posts from your wall, but you have to see them in order to do that and very few people can constantly monitor their page at all times. Even if you appear in something that isn’t even on your page like a tagged photo of the night you got so wasted you streaked up and down Main Street until projectile vomiting kicked in, it can be located. Like it or not we are judged by the people we associate with and if we choose to associate with people that lack common sense we may be judged to be no different than them.

When it comes to Facebook or any social networking site just be smart. Check your account security settings so you can restrict what people see and make good choices as to who you allow on your account as a friend. Most of all try to operate under the idea that if you would be embarrassed if your grandpa saw it, it doesn’t belong on your page.

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2 Responses to “What employers are looking for on your Facebook page”

  1. emmageraln said

    Reblogged this on emmageraln.

  2. This is such a timely article. You raise very meaningful points too. I didn’t realize employers were doing this, but it sure makes sense. And many of us have huge networks of friend and I as you point out, some of those “idiots” (good choice of words) can leave a trail you don’t want on your site. The photo tagging is really skeery too. I wish there were more permissions on FB, I have situations I wish I could control that I can’t.

    I can’t remember which of the Google execs said this, but once he said there may come a time when young people will have made such a bad impression on Facebook and other social sites that judges routinely grant them name changes. I found that astounding at the time. This is one reason I prefer to live my life under my pen name.

    Great post, Amanda

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