I finished year 12 last year and I’m starting to look for a job. My brother told me I need to clean up my Facebook before I start looking. Is he right?
Firstly congratulations on finishing school. And secondly thank you for asking such a great question.
Before you start deleting anything, update your privacy settings. Who can see what you post? It might be great for your close friends to enjoy photos of you at your mates’ 18th but do you really you really want to share them with a possible employer? Try to have as much control as you can over who’s seeing what.
If potential employers are interested in hiring you but have to choose between you and another candidate, it’s possible they will check social media to get a sense of who you are. It might not be fair, but it does happen. A lot. I’m not saying don’t post, I’m saying be careful. Nothing on social media stays private.
When you start your first job, be smart. Don’t rush to become Facebook friends with everyone at work. If it would make life awkward to not accept friend requests, remember that your privacy settings are your friend. It also sometimes happens that your boss or supervisor might send you a friend request. You don’t have to accept and it’s your decision whether or not you do; but if you think it might be read the wrong way if you don’t become friends then again, customize your posts and double check those settings. Remember that Facebook sometimes changes the privacy settings, so keep yours up-to-date and don’t only rely on them – if you’re friends on Facebook with work colleagues, you need to be careful about what you post.
If you’re allowed access to social media at work, be sensible. Don’t take advantage of the situation. You don’t want to find yourself being reprimanded for spending time on Facebook during work time. Try to limit your use to your breaks or before or after work.
Do not, whatever you do, no matter how tempting, post anything derogatory about work or your colleagues. It doesn’t matter whether your comments are written in your own time or at work. There have been instances where negative social media comments about a worker’s company, colleague or boss have been considered grounds for dismissal. It could also possibly leave you open to all manner of trouble such as liability for defamation. Phone your friends and let off steam – don’t post and give up control of who knows how you feel. For the same reasons, you should never identify who your employer is in your Facebook profile, unless it’s part of your job (for example, for a marketing role).
Your new job could also allow you access to information which is confidential or sensitive (for example membership lists, addresses). Sharing this information could possibly get you into huge trouble – not only dismissal, but for breaching your employment contract or fiduciary duty to your employer (which means you’ve been placed in a position of trust by your employer and you have breached that trust.) And in some cases this can still apply even after you’ve left the workplace (for example, if you used to look after hospital records, you must not share details of the patients who came in.)
None of this is meant to scare you. Or meant to imply you must never have fun on Facebook. Rather it’s just meant to remind you that much as you don’t want people turning up uninvited when you go out with your friends or listening in on your phone calls, neither do you want them being able to know your private business.
All the best with the job hunting and here’s to a brilliant start to your working life.