I think we're all aware by now: most employers will check your Facebook and other social accounts before hiring you. In fact, 64% of bosses admitted to doing so, and 44% of them said that they have changed their mind based on what they've seen online (CLOmedia).
So we know our Facebook profile carries a lot of weight as to whether we get hired or not; cool. The problem is, most people have approached this 'problem' the wrong way.
Everyone has rushed to make their profiles as private as possible. I'd say about 10% of my contact list has even gone as far as changing their name, just so employers can't find them. While this may be an effective hiding strategy, you need to ask yourself this question: you are competing for a position with tens, hundreds, or even thousands of other people. Do you really want to be hiding?
When employers go to check your social accounts, it's clear that they have a need to find out more about you. Hiding your profile does not help them satisfy that need. Furthermore, it will leave them wondering why they weren't able to find you. What are you hiding? That's not something you want to leave up to their imagination.
Instead, I've taken a bit of a different approach; one where I want employers to find me.. Here's an outline of my strategy:
1.) I've left my full name.
Since I now want employers to find me, this one's a no-brainer.
2.) Everything that should remain private, is private.
This is key. When I say I've taken a more open approach, I don't mean that I've left my profile completely public. My prospective employers don't need to know what I did last Friday night, who my best friends are, or where I went on my last camping trip. Facebook is a personal network, and I'll always treat it that way.
3.) My accomplishments and everything that I'm proud of, is public.
And this is where I stand out. Rather than my profile being completely private, I've showcased myself. If I've participated in a professional competition, created something awesome, took part in a community event etc., it's all going public. This not only satisfies the employer's need of discovering more about me, but it also allows me to influence their opinion in a highly positive manner.
For a better idea of what I'm talking about visit my Facebook profile. If we're already friends, just click on the screenshot below.
If you don't think you have any content or pictures suitable to be made public, take a second look. Surely you must have done something in the past few months that you are proud of. If not, then that may be your first issue...
One thing to keep in mind: try to sustain a level of authenticity. I don't mind keeping a picture or two of me hanging out with my friends over a beer, simply because that is just a representation of who I am. If an employer goes through all the great content on my timeline, but can't get over the fact that I enjoy socializing in my free time, then position definitely wasn't for me to begin with.
To summarize, think about it this way: most job applications are limited to a cover letter and resume, but you are offered an opportunity to submit a third component in which you can highlight everything you're proud of. Do you take it? Of course you do.
That is essentially what this is all about. 97% of people will either hide their profile or have it work against them. Be a part of the minority that goes the other way, differentiates themselves, and stands out from the crowd.
This is often a highly debated topic, so I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments section below. Is there something you disagree with, or something I haven't considered?