Question: I’ve heard some employers are asking students at interviews to show them their Facebook page when the settings are set to private. How should a student respond to such a request?
Answer: I’ve heard this, too. When you’re asked to show your Facebook page, and you think it’s private, this puts you in an awkward position during an internship or job interview.
I can think of four ways you might respond.
You can say no, which means the interview will probably be cut short. Some of my students are OK with this option because they view the request as a violation of their privacy, which it probably is. My students also say that they wouldn’t want to work for a company that has its representatives make such a request.
Your second option would be to ask how your Facebook page relates to the internship or job. Probably the interviewer won’t like this question. Again, it will probably be a short interview.
Your third option is that you can say that your Facebook page is private and that you like to keep your personal and professional life separate. Such an answer might work because some employers might like to know that you keep your personal and professional life separate.
The fourth option would be to open your Facebook page and let the interviewer see it.
To be prepared for such a request, it’s time to clean up your Facebook page, as well as other social media – Twitter and LinkedIn. According to the 2011 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey, 89 percent of U.S. companies use social media in the recruitment of employees.
Businesses use LinkedIn first. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, you need to create one. Note that for your LinkedIn profile to be complete, you need to post a professional photo of yourself (no glamour shots, please) and have at least three recommendations. LinkedIn is the leading professional social network. It’s said that LinkedIn grows by one person every second, and if it were a country, it would be the 12th largest country in the world.
The second most popular social media businesses check is Facebook. Twitter is third.
For students, Facebook is their No. 1 social media, followed by Twitter and then LinkedIn. If you are looking for an internship or job, you need to step up your activity on LinkedIn.
I’ll wrap up with some of the reasons employers say they reject job candidates because of what they find on social media. These reasons were reported in the 2011 Reppler Survey.
–11 percent for inappropriate photos
–11 percent for negative comments
–9 percent for comments about personal drinking
–10 percent for comments about taking drugs
–11 percent for negative comments about former employers
–11 percent for demonstrated poor communication skills
–13 percent for candidates lying about their qualifications
–7 percent for candidates sharing confidential information from previous employer
Getting your social media in order is so, so important. Unfortunately you can no longer view social media as private these days. Operate on the basis that anything you post is OK for your grandmother to see or read. You’re only safe these days if you operate as though your social media is public.
A special thank you goes to Deb Dolak in Ball State’s Career Center for help with the social media statistics.
Ball State University