Though there have been several instances of employers researching potential employees by taking a gander at social media pages, it seems things are getting even worse on the privacy homefront. Employers are now asking for passwords to accounts they can’t view.Make sure that you have an online profile that you’ll be proud to share with potential employers.
Those of us old enough to remember when the internet was “invented” never imaged things would come to this. Some are debating over whether this should be legal (it shouldn’t) or if applicants should be willing to divulge passwords (they should).
The question isn’t so much about whether this is right or wrong, we all know that social media is not a private space, as much as we like to think it is, and people far and wide (the social media companies themselves, third-party advertisers, sites that crawl the web for personal data, etc.) have access to whatever you choose to share via computer, phone and tablet.
The only constant is change
As internet usage and social media have transformed our lives, we can’t expect the working world not to take notice. It’s becoming pretty common for people to conduct Google searches on each other. These basic, free searches can bring up your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media pages, posts you’ve made using blogging accounts, and a treasure trove of personal date including previous addresses, phone numbers, and photos that you’ve posted and/or been tagged in.
It doesn’t seem that employers, or even potential mates, are going to stop conducting these searches anytime soon.
What you can do about it
If this is the brave new world we live in, we’d better prepare. Here are a few tips on protecting your social media while applying for jobs.
Create two social media identities. One never knows was is offensive to others (though traditional western thought tells us not to speak about religion and politics) so it’s best to create a public profile using your name that’s bland. Think of those networks (Facebook, LinkedIn , etc.) like a career CV and only post things germane to your career. Your personal online personality should use names and identifying information that cannot be linked to your public persona. That includes making your personal page private and not posting photos of yourself publicly. There is software coming down the pipeline that can identify images in a photo and attribute them to names, dates, and locations. Make sure that when an employer asks for your social media information you are confident that they find career-enhancing pages that speak well for you as an employee.
Guard your online reputation. Make your friends aware that you have two online personalities and encourage them to engage with each one appropriately. Routinely check for photos and messages that you have been tagged in and delete those that don’t put you in the best light. This includes photos of you half-dressed, intoxicated, committing illegal activities and messages that include profanity, negative or derogatory comments about anyone or anything (sexist, racist, etc.), or anything that seems on the line of impropriety. Better to be safe than sorry.
Set up a Goggle Alert. If you have a Gmail account you can set up a Google Alert for anything that you’d like to be updated about, including your own name. It’s easy to manage your online personalities by getting an email to your account any time your name appears online for any reason. The best defense is a good offense, right?
Make sure that you are being proactive about creating an online identity that you’ll be proud to share with potential employers.
Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. She speaks at high schools, colleges, and companies across the country. She has written three books on personal finance, including Amazon Best Seller “Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook”. Shay has been quoted on Bankrate.com, FoxBusiness.com, and The Credit Union Times, among others. To schedule Shay to speak at your event visit www.BiggerThanYourBlock.com.