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Does Your Facebook Profile Need an ‘About-Face?’

When we were still based in Bangkok, we were looking to hire two college interns to spend their winter school break holidays working for us. The chance to escape blustery winter weather and spend a few weeks working in balmy Bangkok apparently appealed to many, and we ended up with 75 applicants for only two internships. (We’d like to think the college students were really only interested in working for us, but we’re far more realistic than that!)

Anyway, out of the 75 applications, we narrowed it down to five on our short list. On paper, they were all stellar, and my personal favorite resume was from a young man (we’ll call him Jim) who seemed full of promise. Always excited to talk with bright young people, I looked forward to my interview with him.

But that interview never happened.

Why? Jim’s Facebook photos were so … well, embarrassing, that his application immediately went to the “no” pile. Photo one: Jim, shirtless, in a “muscle man” pose, wearing a baseball cap and holding a beer bottle. Photo two: Jim passionately kissing his girlfriend at a party.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no prude. It’s fine to do all of those things (especially the passionate kissing part!). But, when that is the key visual on your Facebook page, what kind of brand does that communicate to others? And if I hired Jim, and our clients wanted to check out our staff members, do I want those visuals to represent our company brand? Not really.

So, even though Jim was a potentially great candidate for what would have been a fun job, he fell off the list.

Putting Your Best Facebook Forward

The truth is that Facebook has been a liability for quite a few people lately. The news has covered stories of people getting fired or even arrested because of what they disclosed on their Facebook profiles. So, unless you know exactly how to take advantage of Facebook’s privacy settings (and even then, it’s risky), you could set yourself up for a rude awakening – especially if you’re looking for a job.

Studies show that as many as 60-70% of all employers check Facebook and other social media sites as soon as they get your resume. So, before you even get called for an interview, your resume or CV may end up in the “no” file – just like Jim’s did. And you might never know that your social media activities were the root cause.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, or whether you’re looking for a job or not. Take a look at your Facebook profile like an outsider would (same for Twitter and other social media sites), and check for what kind of personal brand messages are coming across. What do others see? What do your page and your photos say about YOU™? Remember: You’re only as professional as your last post.

Then, take a look at How YOU™ Are Like Shampoo for Job Seekers for more ideas to prevent social media from undermining your job prospects. Remember: Your personal brand has to be consistent everywhere, or you’ll end up confusing the very people you’re looking to impress.

P.S. Curious what employers are looking for when they view your social media pages? Check out this Forbes article for some clues. http://tinyurl.com/7am29ck.

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This entry was posted on Friday, March 16th, 2012 and is filed under Job Search, Personal Branding.

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