Facebook: A place for friends.
This is what the social networking site was intended for at its launch in February 2004. But for several years now the social networking site and its demographics have expanded to include family, teachers and, perhaps most threatening to college students, employers. Generations, from 3rd-grade cousins to grandmothers are now part of the no. 1 social network on the web. Where several years ago posts could go up without fear of retribution, now the very same posts could cost you potential employment after college.
However, you don’t have to end up living in your parent’s basement after graduation due to a dirty social network profile. If you don’t want four years of pricey high education to go to waste, take the time to clean up your internet persona with these helpful tips from the CU Independent.
Let LinkedIn be your professional online representative.
Keeping your Facebook profile appropriate is important for future employment, but LinkedIn is the first step to professionalism. For your first round of applications and interviews, have a free profile set up so prospective employers can see your resume and your professional self. Most employers acknowledge that Facebook is still somewhat a place for friends, so they’re likely to go to this more professional site first.
“For the initial stages of learning about a candidate’s professional credentials, [employers] tend to use LinkedIn,” said Lisa Severy, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Director of Career Services.
Having a photo in general on LinkedIn is almost more important than having a professional Facbook profile picture, according to Roderik Saleh, social media and outreach specialist at Career Services.
“Lots of people have LinkedIn accounts, but no pictures,” Saleh said. “It’s cause for a little bit of doubt for employers, because they expect to put a face on a resume.”
Use Facebook as a way to represent your skills and interests
Now that your professional persona is public on LinkedIn, it’s time to take advantage of Facebook as a professional representative of yourself. You don’t have to have your personal profile be your only face on Facebook; consider having a business or public figure page for your portfolio. Link it to your projects, websites, resume and any other valuable information for employers.
The most important thing is to show your creative side rather than recreating your LinkedIn profile verbatim.
“If you have a strictly professional LinkedIn, and [employers] start the secondary search, they might like to see your creative side on Facebook,” said Christine Mahoney, Journalism & Mass Communication Internship and Career Coordinator.
Severy agreed that your personal Facebook can be slightly more relaxed, but still professional.
“As most employers know that Facebook is mostly for personal friends, having silly pictures on is fine,” she said. “That shows more of your playful, creative side.”
Keep your potential future employers in mind
Regardless of whether you have a professional Facebook page or a LinkedIn profile, it’s still important to keep your personal Facebook profile clean.
A good rule of thumb, provided by both Severy and Mahoney, is: if you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see it, take it down.
That awesome keg stand picture that your friend took of you pre-gaming before the ASU game? Not appropriate. Lighting a joint? Amendment 64 hasn’t passed yet. Got a new tattoo? Every friend, acquaintance and random person you met at a party doesn’t need to know about it. Just turned 21? Despite your legality, your profile picture doesn’t need to be you blurry-eyed with a Catacombs stamp gracing your forehead. These are all major turn-offs for employers that may have been impressed by your resume and experience prior to perusing your profile.
“[Employers] tend to use those later in the process as a way to make their final decisions or to weed out people they think may be a problem for their company later,” Severy said.
Facebook can offer personal connections to those companies that you are looking to apply at. The site is great for networking with potential employers, because it allows for a more friendly interaction before you even get to the interview room.
“[Facebook is] much more casual, much more informal, but it’s also much more intimate,” Saleh said. “It’s a powerful tool to get connected.”
Make your profile picture just you
As much as you love your significant other, best friend or siblings, both blood and Greek, your Facebook profile picture should be just you. It’s the first thing any person visiting your page sees. If your profile is fully private, it’s the only thing a possible employer will see. So make sure it’s the best representation of you. If your friends get offended at being cut out of your photos, pass on this bit of knowledge.
“Your profile picture should just be you, other photos can be in the photos section,” Mahoney said. “Employers recognize that you can’t spend $500 on professional head shots, but obviously unprofessional content is bad.”
Watch what you say about anything
The first amendment gives Americans freedom of speech and expression. However, if you are going to take that right and discuss your opinions, know that can affect relations with future employers. If you badmouth a product or company, don’t expect them to be happy to hire you. Even when talking about your opinions on simple topics like music to controversial topics like politics, you could offend employers by publicly stating your opinion.
“Think about who is going to see [your posts] and how that might affect your future employment,” Mahoney said. “Think about who your future employers may be, and that may affect what you post about entertainment, food [and even] concerts.”
Statuses don’t always have to be self-censored, though. You can also use your Facebook statuses to show how excited you are about your potential employer. Show your friends that this future career is important to you.
“Post about how you are looking forward to that interview with John Doe at XYZ company or, after the interview, that you are looking forward to hearing from them,” Saleh said. “Show that you are genuinely interested in the job. That’s something employers want to know, because it’s expensive to hire new people.”
Be aware of what your profile links to
More often than not, what you post on Facebook isn’t just on Facebook. Be aware if your page is linked to your Twitter, Tumblr or any other sites, and keep track of what gets posted on these sites.
“Be cogniscent of links posting to all sites, it’s easy to forgot what you have linked to what,” Mahoney said. “You may think, ‘Oh, I’m just posting this on Facebook,’ but it could be linked to five different places.”
Also be careful of what content, from photos to likes to statuses, is just on your timeline as well as friends’ timelines. Untag yourself from unsavory photos on your friends’ pages.
“Remember that you can’t just check your own page, but also your friends pages wherein you’re tagged,” Severy said. “It can take a while to get everything taken down that you’d like to see removed, so people should start thinking about that well before the job or internship search begins.”
The most important take-away, according to Saleh, is that you are the one who controls what other people can see on your profile. Know what you have on your timeline, and make sure that people you may not know can’t see it.
“Bottom line: Protect your content, adjust your privacy settings and make [your page] closed off to people you don’t know,” Saleh said.
Now that you have the tips to keeping your Facebook profile clean, it’s time to get your professional persona out there. Even if your profile looks squeaky-clean at the top, it’s best to go through your entire timeline and make sure there’s nothing too inappropriate from years past. What you find may surprise you, and you don’t want that to surprise your potential employers.
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Avalon Jacka at Avalon.email@example.com.