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Employers are Watching your Facebook

posted Oct 12, 2009, 6:41 PM by Danny Eusebio   [ updated Oct 20, 2009, 6:16 PM ]

You might want to think again when you post that picture of yourself licking a toilet seat at your friends party or the suggestive image of you dancing on a pole. If you’re looking for a job as most college students are struggling to do, make sure you understand what employers are doing to learn more about their applicants. I’d call it spying, but if it’s public, you might as well call it an open invitation to your bedroom. Today, more and more companies are using Facebook and Twitter as a way to learn more about their applicants before they interview or higher them. You never know, maybe the reason you didn’t get that job interview could have simply been the fact that you use emoticons to update your Facebook status. It sucks, I know. Let’s do something about it.

Research by the UCI Careers Center has shown that 85% of employers use some form of sleuthing on Social Networks to screen applicants. What say you now?

Before you start uploading photos or even allowing friends to upload photos and videos of yourself, make sure you know what they consist of.  Little do you know, a picture of playing beer pong could be your ticket out of your interview opportunity.

Let’s take some steps to protect you:

  1. Privatize your Facebook account. (It helps, but doesn’t completely protect)
  2. Untag questionable photos of yourself. (Did you know you could do this?)
  3. Remove friends you don’t know. (They can affect you)
  4. Stop using all those apps. (Stop doing those questionnaires…PEOPLE!!!)

Even if you privatize your account, employers can still use other means to learn more about you. When was the last time you checked on your farm or the restaurant you were putting together…hopefully it was never. Did you know that the apps (like surveys and questionnaires) that you use on Facebook can be accessed by third parties?

Even I didn’t know about this, but I dislike all the Facebook apps. I think it’s caused more clutter in the user interface. Also, I see lots of friends doing questionnaires all the time. Trust me, your answers, are open to the freaking public.

What about that questionable person that adds you on Facebook? Is it some old high school friend you don’t remember? Instead of just adding them, make sure to send them a message to verify that they really do exist. Employers are getting ever more creative with their methods and adding you as a friend unknowingly is the best way to learn more about you.  Oh, and you probably have a 1000+ friends right? You might want to do a little spring cleaning.

I know its great to have more than 1000+ friends on your Facebook, and man am I still some ways to getting that far, but it might be a good idea to run through all of them. You never know, sometimes you usually accept friend request because it was a normal reaction, however, you could have let those shady friends slip by. So don’t be afraid to unfriend people. Usually they’ll never know and some will never care.

Last but not least, just clean up your profile. This includes but is not limited to adding clear and correct work info, leaving weird groups you joined, and choosing a suitable profile picture. Trust me, a little work here and there can go a long way.

You might hate it, and you probably don’t agree with it. But the sad truth is that social networks like Facebook and Twitter are being used to learn a little more about applicants. You might say, “I’m not gonna change my profile, I have nothing to hide.” And sure, I’d applaud you and give you respect. However, the employer that’s going through that profile of yours is making a visual one dimensional judgment about who you are. And the applicant who is good at hiding their info will probably get the job. So the next time you see a yourself tagged in a photograph or video, make sure its suitable.

Have fun with Facebook…