How to Keep Your Facebook Private and Still Look Good To Employers
The Internet has changed a lot since the dawn of Facebook; what was once intrinsically “private” is now intrinsically “public.” The stories once shared with just college students on Facebook are now seen by our administrators and professors, law enforcement agencies, strangers, and potential employers.
It’s a good idea to keep your personal life and your professional life separate. That doesn’t mean you should “put on a face” or act like “someone you’re not.” It simply means you should be careful about what you put on the Internet to make sure you still look good to employers.
What You Should Do
Post Positive Events Publicly
So you’re studying abroad for 4 months, working a summer internship, or getting great grades in your classes. These are the positive details of your life that can (and should) be shared publicly. If you have tons of posts about exciting opportunities and happy life events, employers are more likely to take this at face value instead of digging into your private life, and they’ll also see a healthy, responsible individual’s Facebook page.
Anything you post publicly should be positive and professional. It’s even okay to post that you just ate six chocolate chip cookies or enjoyed watching Argo with your family or friends. It’s good to keep it real.
Keep Your Best Pictures Public
You definitely don’t want to look as though you’re hiding too much, and creating a completely hidden profile can do just that. Instead, give employers something to look at by making specific pictures public. Anything related to schoolwork, volunteering, or even lunch out with Mom and Dad can be appropriate pictures to post. You can use these photos to cultivate an online persona that makes you look employable.
Have a Respectable Username
Whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Gmail, it’s important to have a good username that looks somewhat professional. Using your first or full name is best, just as long as it seems professional.
What You Shouldn’t Do
Post About Parties
Now that the world knows the high points of your life, there are plenty of low points to be careful of. Don’t write posts about how awesome drinking will be in Europe since you’re only 19, or that you can’t wait to snooze your way through your summer job.
Don’t write emotional posts about an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend or an ex-friend. Don’t post about any illicit or illegal activities, and be careful posting about extreme politics, religion, drinking, sex, and any other controversial topics. Sure, it’s mostly illegal for an employer to not hire you based on your political views and religious beliefs, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do it.
Upload Compromising Photos
Whether you look ridiculous, you’ve got almost no clothes on, or you’re clearly engaging in under-aged or illegal activities, nothing on the Internet is safe from scrutiny, no matter what privacy settings you put in place. Do not email illicit photos to yourself or your boyfriend, do not post photos on Facebook of you rolling a joint or doing a keg-stand.
When it comes to social media, and the Internet in general, never share something over the Internet that you wouldn’t want both your boss and your grandmother to see. Any photos that are less than 100% okay for employers to see shouldn’t go on the Internet.
If you do want these pictures on your profile, just make sure the albums are accessible by Only Friends. Friends of friends can be a lot of people, including a potential employer.
Create the Wrong Usernames
There’s really nothing wrong with a firstnamelastname@gmail account, or even a Facebook profile URL such as: “/JennylovesUCLA.” Just do your best to keep it as professional as possible, especially if your real name is already taken.
Don’t use any childish or ridiculous handles or usernames such as: Sweetie22 or xxtoxicbingedrinker247xx. Also avoid putting unsafe contact information in your usernames, such as your house number, or the last four digits of your phone number.
Trust Sites’ Privacy
No matter how private Google says the photos are, or Facebook says your information is, we know better. If you trust a bank with your life savings and they get robbed, you generally get your money back because insurance covers it and it is just money.
If you trust Facebook with your personal, private information and photos and they get hacked, your information becomes available to anyone and everyone. And the most you’ll get is compensated for “emotional damage.” No amount of money can erase the memories or copies of a picture of you mooning your friend while smoking a joint.
Just remember: If the U.S. Government’s information can be hacked and leaked, so can yours.