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It’s early June in Lennoxville, Québec – the sun is shining, the smell of meat grilling on the barbecue fills the air and another class of Bishop’s students, such as myself, are preparing to graduate. What an accomplishment! Four long years of pulling all nighters, lengthy presentations, tedious readings, grueling midterms – and maybe the occasional party – have all lead to this: Convocation! The day where we all throw on a cap and gown to proudly walk across that stage to receive the elusive diploma. We are now Bishop’s University graduates. But now what?

The Job Search

Find a job – that’s the logical choice, right? That’s what society has taught us. So, armed with a fresh degree and some previous job experience, you test the job market. After you do the basic stuff like: proofing and updating your resume, personalizing your cover letter, and remembering to iron your shirt before the interview – be sure you do one more thing….

Censor your Facebook Profile. Wait what? Facebook? Why?

Facebook: The Job Killer

Facebook screening – it’s the trend among employers – and more often than not, it can be a deal breaker. Remember the photo of you drinking beer from a funnel that you made your profile picture last week? Well, the employer you submitted your resume to Googled your name the minute you left the office, and what do you think came up – that photo – and it just cost you your dream job. Facebook’s openness combined with Google’s savvy has lead to more and more job hunters losing their shot at that perfect job.

According to Career Builder, 45% of employers check candidates out on Facebook to gain some insight into their personalities, interests, and behavior. Most importantly, 35% of those employers admitted to rejecting candidates based on what they found. Among the highest job-ruining activities found on Facebook were inappropriate photos, drinking, drug use, and poor communication skills.

How do you avoid this?

WebFuel Checklist
Follow these pointers to help avoid this problem:

1. Facebook Photos
Don’t post those provocative pictures in the first place! If they aren’t posted, Google won’t find them. Google’s not that smart – yet! If a friend tags a photo of you that you’re uncomfortable with, you can untag yourself. But the fact of the matter is that the photo is still out there. A good friend should respect your polite request to take down a photo of yourself.

2. Facebook Name
Change your Facebook name. This has both an upside, and a downside. The upside is if an employer Google’s “Jason Faber”, and I’ve changed my Facebook name to “Jason F”, they won’t find me at all. But, they could find another Jason Faber – a Jason Faber that is posting much worse things than me! Another argument against changing your name on Facebook is – if an employer finds out that you have changed your name so that you’re not found, they’re going to wonder: What is this person trying to hide? Then the imagination takes over – not good!

3. Facebook Friends
Review your friends. You would be surprised at how many people you are “friends” with. That guy that you shared a snack pack with in grade two is probably not your friend. That girl that you sort of recognize from the library is not your friend. Your friends are people that you know. People that you like, and communicate with on a regular basis. Earlier this year I reviewed my friend list. The result? I ended up deleting 450 “friends”. Kind of scary right? How did I accept friend requests from 450 people that I don’t consider to actually be my friend? But it happens. Make sure you do this, it’s worth the 30 minutes.

4. Facebook Privacy Settings
Set your privacy settings. Facebook’s new standards allow users to be as private, or as open as they please. By creating friend lists (i.e. Family, Coworkers, etc.), you can select who can view what.  For example, you can allow all of your friends to see your photos of the ski trip you took to Banff, but only allow your coworkers to view the pictures you posted of the office party The photos of your cousins’ wedding are only available to your family. Take some time and play around with these settings. For instance, you can ensure that people who you are not friends with cannot see anything at all – this might be your best bet.

5. LinkedIn
Cleaning up your Facebook profile is just the start. Build your personal brand online. On Facebook, you can provide a link to your LinkedIn profile (and make sure that is up to par while you’re at it). LinkedIn is much more than just an online resume – it’s a great networking and branding tool that shouldn’t be underestimated. Employers check LinkedIn just as much as Facebook. Make sure it conveys the right message about you – try to avoid slang and typos. I know this all sounds like common sense, but you wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen people write on their Social Networking profiles.

6. Blogging
And lastly, start blogging. Employers love this! It’s a great way for you to showcase your communication skills and your knowledge in your field.

I know we all love Facebook – there are over 400 million active users worldwide. But be smart about it. Use Social Networks to your advantage. How will you build your brand online to get your dream job?