Top 5 Facebook Faux Pas

Like many people, I saw social media as a way of keeping in contact with friends, uploading photos and following trends and celebrities. However, it can be used for so much more – particularly if you’re job hunting.

Social media can be used to target and interact with companies; getting on their radar and creating a relationship that could help you get a job. However, before you try to use social media proactively try Googling your name – what will a prospective employer find? Can you be sure that your online profile is appropriate, complete and, if possible, impressive?

With more than 900 million active users Facebook is the social media platform most frequently used by students. But how many are aware that what they post and how they use Facebook could lose them a job? Here are my five top Facebook faux pas – ignore them at your peril!

1. No privacy settings

You wouldn’t want people being able to watch you at home, so why would you allow anyone with internet access to see your Facebook account? With an increasing worry that the world is becoming like Big Brother it’s astonishing that people don’t customise their privacy settings, and instead leave their personal information available to everyone.

You might argue that your Facebook page is personal but if anyone can view it from Google you’re not exercising your right for it to be private. With graduate jobs hard to come by and a third of employers already using the internet to do quick searches of potential employees, can you afford not to tighten up those privacy settings?

2. Ridiculous Facebook names

If you wouldn’t introduce yourself by this name, then it shouldn’t be the name of your account. Although it may be a joke amongst your friends all it says to an outsider is that you have poor judgement. Facebook maybe a site for connecting with people you know, but you should still aim to create a good impression – that starts with having a sensible account name.

3. Badmouth people or companies publically on Facebook

If you have an opinion about something there are suitable ways to have your say; bad mouthing someone where anyone could read it and take offence isn’t an acceptable use of Facebook or any online site. It may be banter to you and your friends or have a harmless explanation, but it could be entirely misinterpreted by someone else. Take what’s been happening recently on Twitter; a 17-year-old boy was arrested for malicious tweets to Tom Daley the British Olympic diver. Other people have put their jobs on the line due to Facebook comments – don’t become one of them.

4. Indecent or stupid photos and videos

That old cliché ‘a picture’s worth a thousand words’ could have been invented for Facebook. The image your online profile portrays is as important as how you dress for an interview. You wouldn’t think it was appropriate to turn up in your pyjamas so why would you imagine it’s appropriate to be in your underwear (or less), or pole dancing drunk in your pictures on Facebook? By rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t want your granny or your parents to see some of the photos you’re tagged in then get them off Facebook.

5. A little too much information

Although it’s great to share your hobbies and interests with others there are some things that are best kept out of the public domain. What messages are you sending out to other people when joining and ‘liking’ things on Facebook?

Do you agree with these five Facebook faux pas? What’s the worst thing you think someone could do on Facebook?

Victoria Tomlinson is founder and owner of Harrogate-based PR consultancy, Northern Lights. A former director of Ernst & Young, she started her career as a graduate trainee for Plessey and later with Bradbury Wilkinson, the banknote printers, travelling around the world to sell banknotes to foreign governments. She joined Arthur Young as part of their start-up marketing team and was made a director of client services on the management committee and managing a 100-strong division. Victoria sits on the boards of Bradford University School of Management, Northern Ballet Theatre and Common Purpose North Yorkshire. She is a Prince’s Trust mentor.