If you’re currently looking for work, or will be in the next year or two, then you’re probably aware that your Facebook presence will be looked at by a potential employer. While most people only worry about what kinds of Friday night party photos appear on their personal profiles, there are considerations you may not have thought about with respect to seemingly innocent information that is available on your profile.
HR professionals are well-versed in what information they can and can’t consider when making decisions about hiring — but not everyone who’s involved in hiring is an HR professional. Decisions about a candidate’s suitability can be made in a heartbeat, and reasons for keeping or chucking your application may not even be conscious on the part of the person involved. Maybe they don’t like your piercings or tattoos. Maybe a movie you like or a group you belong to makes them draw a conclusion that shouldn’t be made. And frankly, legal or not, you’ll never be the wiser.
Now that I’ve scared you, I’ll give you my favourite piece of advice: Don’t Panic! And don’t ditch your presence on Facebook, because there are things you can do to create a professional Facebook presence and maintain your personal private space.
When you sign up for Facebook, you create a personal profile. This is the ‘personal’ you – where you ‘friend’ people and have the ability to ‘like’ business, community or celebrity pages. The relationship you have when you ‘like’ a business is different from the connection between personal profiles who are ‘friends’. Businesses can’t see your personal information – aside from the information visible on your public profile to people who aren’t your friends.
What if you ‘nailed down’ the security settings on your personal profile, and limited your friends to those people you interact with in your personal life, and created a professional page where employers and potential employers can go to find out more information about your ongoing professional development? This page can also be a place to interact with work colleagues that you may not want to let in on your personal profile. Creating a professional space on Facebook also saves your family and friends from seeing posts related to your work that they are probably not interested in anyway.
Here’s How To Do It:
- If you have never created a page before, head to Facebook.com/pages. You’ll need to log in to your profile to begin. Hit ‘Create a Page’ at the top right of the page to get started.
- Choose the most appropriate category for yourself – probably ‘Artist, Band or Public Figure’. Don’t choose ‘Cause or Community’ – these pages behave differently from the others.
- Set up your page just as you would your personal profile. Use a different image than on your personal profile – otherwise it gets confusing later as to whether you’re on your profile or page.
- Start using Facebook as your page. Under ‘Account’ in the top right corner, choose the ‘Use Facebook As Page’ option – and make sure you ‘switch’ to the page. You are now operating as your professional self.
- Find professional pages of groups or businesses in your field and ‘like’ them. Now anything they post can be found in your page’s newsfeed – and becomes easy to share to your own wall by clicking ‘share’. You’re now establishing your professional presence! Congrats.
- Whenever you comment now on a post from another page, the comment comes from your professional image! Keep it up!
Done! You can ‘switch’ back and forth between your personal profile and professional page easily through the ‘Account’ tab at the top right of the Facebook page.
Got questions? Connect on the My Colleges and Careers Facebook page. (Just tag me @Campbell Duke Personal Branding.)