As you set out into the job market you carefully look over all of the steps you have taken to represent yourself in the best light. Your resume features glowing highlights of your internship experience, your stellar GPA and your volunteer work. Your cover letter speaks to the qualities that would make you an outstanding employee. The interview outfits you selected are in power colors sure to get you noticed and taken seriously. But what about the parts of your public image that are just out there? The ones you haven’t chosen to submit? Hiring managers are looking not just at the information you hand over, but also everything that is available about you online–including Facebook. Sound scary? Before you head out on those interviews, take these steps to insure your online persona is in good form.
Where to Start
When you’re logged into Facebook, click on the lock icon at the top right of the page. Select “Who can see my stuff,” and then “View As.” This feature allows you to view your Facebook as someone who is not a friend or mutual friend. You may be surprised how much of the content on your page is public. Make a note of what sorts of things appear that you would like to make private or only visible to friends.
Tip: If you would like to know what is visible to a particular person you can also enter a name and this feature will allow you to view your profile the way that person sees it.
What to change
So now that you know how to change your Facebook privacy settings, what items should be Friends Only? Also under “Who can see my stuff,” is the “Who can see my future posts,” switch. Set this to Friends, so that majority of the things you post from that point on will not be public. Better safe than sorry.
If your profile picture is visible to the public, select one that you would feel comfortable posting on a site like Linkedin. Consider that a recruiter could come across this image of you and factor it into the hiring process. Sound too restrictive? Change the privacy setting on each profile picture to Friends Only and worry less about how a silly photo could affect your job prospects.
The same goes for your photo albums. Rather than individually change the privacy settings for your most inappropriate photos, go ahead and set all of your photo albums to friends only. If you know that you have scandalous photos throughout, set all of your albums to Only Me, then comb through to see if it is necessary to take any images of past debauchery into the real world with you. You will still have the images to look back on whenever you like, but do future coworkers you friend need to see them, too?
Tip: Cover photos are always public. As long as your profile is searchable others can see the large banner at the top of your Facebook page. Keep this in mind when you choose that image.
Posting a witty quip about your manager’s hideous necktie is sure to give you something to smile about midday, but you won’t be smiling if a future manager sees the post and decides not to hire you to that fancy, new job. Under “Who can see my stuff,” click “Use Activity Log.” Here you can see all of your past likes, posts and shares. The icon to the right of each item indicates who can see it–two silhouettes means friends and the globe means it’s public. Click on “Your posts” in the left toolbar and change any public statuses to friends only.
These are just the basics. Remember that anything you post online could eventually become public one way or another. Keep digging into Facebook’s privacy settings and make selections that make you feel your data is reasonably protected and make good choices when you’re sharing online.