During a recent seminar at a college, students wanted to know whether or not their Facebook page impacts them in their job search.
The short answer is: yes, it does impact you. Everything you do or have done can impact you. The Internet, especially Facebook, has simply made it easier to look at you as a whole person.
Companies want to know as much as possible about applicants before they make a final choice. They know your skills from your education and your past work experience. What they don’t know as readily is what you are like as a person. Will you fit their corporate culture? Is the “you” you presented in an interview accurate and trustworthy?
Social media offers important glimpses into you as a person: How you present yourself; what you say about yourself; what images you show on your page. Do you talk about your work life? If so, what do you say and how would it sound to another person?
What other people say and show about you are equally important. Photos in particular can make or break you. I know of one young gentleman who was asked in for an interview. The interviewer requested they visit his Facebook page together. The young man was embarrassed to see a picture a friend had posted and tagged with his name. He had fallen asleep on the beach and his friends had thought it would be a good joke to surround him with empty beer bottles, take his photo and post it. Clearly not the image he wanted to present.
Before beginning the job search, take time to review the content on your pages. Even better, have others review it for you to make sure you are presenting yourself in the best terms possible. It’s better not to hide parts of your image through privacy settings but instead to keep your page clean in the first place. You want to be okay owning everything on your page should people you aren’t friended with see it.
Check regularly for information or photos that others may have posted about you. If you find a photo in which you are tagged that makes you uncomfortable, contact the person who posted it and request, firmly if necessary, that they remove the photo. At the very least, untag the photo so it doesn’t come up in any searches of you. Checking this once isn’t enough, especially during the job search. Do it regularly, and again just prior to any interviews, so you can be sure your image is the best it can possibly be if an interviewer wants to look at your page with you. It’s okay to have a personal life, but your personal life shouldn’t be so incongruous with your work life that people question your trustworthiness or judgment.
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Meet the Jobs Docs
Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.