If you’re currently an active job hunter or thinking about becoming one, the recent news about employers and their interest in your Facebook Password has recharged the overall interest in protecting yourself against losing out on an opportunity because of an errant Facebook Status update. So, here are a few things you can do to minimize your risk.
Just like mom used to say, “A little common sense goes a long way.” In short, use your head.
3 Easy Steps to Protect Yourself
Step 1: Assess the Damage, if any
You want to get a feel for what you’re up against, so the best thing to do is act like an employer and find out what’s out there. Assuming you’ve already “Googled yourself”, start checking specific sites. Here’s a simple search string you can use to check your publicly available information from Facebook. To search a different site, just change the website in step 2 below.
- Go to Google
- In the search box, enter the following: site:facebook.com, “your name as it appears on Facebook“
- Close your jaw as you see the hundreds of search results for stuff you didn’t realize was out there for the world to see.
Depending upon what’s out there, you may have some work to do over the weekend.
Step 2: Sanitize the Area
The next thing you might want to do is sanitize your friends list. If 99 of your Facebook friends are generally pretty tame and one of them just happens to be that loose cannon from college that always seems to post the most lurid, provocative and otherwise unmentionable material (that we all love to laugh at, but hate to admit), you may want to un-friend that person during your interview period just to be safe.
Step 3: Treat the Patient
There are two ways to handle this part. For starters, if you do find any unseemly or even questionable search results, the best thing to do is minimize the chances that anyone can find them in the future. Normally, if you follow the link directly to the post, if it’s a status update, you have the option of changing whether it is publicly available. Once you’ve logged in, look for a small drop-down arrow fight next to the “Post” button. Here you can select who can view this (Public, Friends, Only Me, or Custom). Just like the SAT’s, when in doubt choose C – “Only Me”. While this won’t remove the information immediately, eventually as Google crawls that area and saves a more recent version of the page in its history, it will eventually disappear.
Remember, if you can find it, so can a potential employer, so be prepared. Having a good back story can also help to minimize the damage in the event the subject comes up in an interview, but the best way to prevent an employer from seeing it is to simply refrain from making it public to begin with.