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Taking your Facebook profile from student to employee

02 Dec 2014
We're all guilty of having the dreaded 'freshers week' photos hiding somewhere on our Facebook page, or that album from your friends 21st birthday party, where we all got a bit carried away. But what happens when your student days are long gone, and you're doing everything you can to try and land that first highly coveted graduate job.

Take a minute to think about the type of impression you want to give to your future employer. Put yourself in their shoes, if you were looking for the next bright, young talent - an ambitious and dedicated individual to join your company - does your Facebook profile give that impression?

Social media is playing a larger part in how companies consider your employment. More hiring managers today are looking at applicants' social profiles before making hiring decisions, and often employers will use Facebook to 'pre-screen' candidates. Take a minute to think about your social footprint. If you need a starting point, Google yourself and see what comes up. You'll be surprised what posts or images might appear…

According to research, 37 % of employers surveyed said they used social media to screen job candidates, and a further 34 % of hiring managers said information on a person's social profile kept them from hiring candidates. When surveyed, the employers top 4 reasons for not hiring a candidate were as follows:
  • Posting provocative and inappropriate photos or information
  • Information about a candidate drinking or using drugs 
  • Candidate had poor communication skills 
  • Candidate badmouthed a previous employer
If your Facebook profile does have some shameful images on it or references to your awful hangover on a Wednesday morning do not fear, it is easy to clean it up. The first thing an employer is going to see when he or she views your Facebook profile is your profile picture and cover photo. Be sure to choose a picture that paints a clean, friendly image of an up-and-coming professional eager to get their first foot on the career ladder. Secondly, go through your profile and screen your posts, and be careful also to make sure comments your friends are posting are appropriate too!

The second step is to change your privacy settings. If you click on the wheel in the upper left corner of your Facebook page then you can 'edit profile', so that you can decide who can view what you're posting on the site. Not everything you share has to be seen by 'everyone.' Before you share any photos or links, check that it is only visible to you or your friends.

Now we've discussed how your Facebook profile can hinder your job search, let's talk about the many ways that it can benefit you after you've graduated. After all, your social media profile serves as an embodiment of your personal brand, and, as such, they are no longer just for being 'social'. They can also be a great tool to help you get a placement, job or graduate scheme, as well as being a fantastic way to network and make contacts in your area of work.

There are a number of ways that you can show a future employer that you are hard working and committed. Here are some examples of how to utilise your Facebook profile in your job search:
  • Share photos of you and your peers at appropriate university functions or whilst volunteering
  • Follow brands and blogs in your field of study or the line of work you're trying to get into
  • Share interesting news and analysis from influential brands and blogs within your field.
Facebook are planning to launch a new site in 2015 called 'Facebook at Work'. The site will be visually similar to Facebook, with a newsfeed and groups, but users will be able to keep their personal profile private, placing Facebook  in direct competition with professional social networking sites such  LinkedIn and Google +.You can read more about Facebook at Work in this article from The Telegraph.

Until then, it is not expected that you will have no hint of your social life or personality showing on your Facebook profile, after all this is part of who you are and what differentiates you from everybody else. Similarly, don't panic and suddenly start deleting half of your friends, you think may be a liability, just clean it up and be cautious! You don't want to lose out on a fantastic opportunity over something as silly as a Facebook post.

For advice about your social footprint, why not download our LinkedIn guide - a great resource for finding that first role
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