English version proofread by Kelly Moore. This article was published in French on joHdi. Original title: "Comment préserver son image sur Facebook".
In Switzerland, Facebook has more than 4 million users, and LinkedIn has 2.4 million. Users over 35 years old represent more than 50% of the active profiles on Facebook. Consequently, there is a good chance that your (future) employer will be there and will check your profile someday, especially before your job interview.
It is important to take care of your reputation on social networks in all cases, but especially if you are looking for a job. Your image on social media should be consistent on all sites. Whilst LinkedIn is a more professional platform, remember that your Facebook profile, as well as your posts on Instagram or Twitter, are also important and a reflection of your image, opinions and ideas. Don't forget that a photo posted several years ago can be found at any time, as well as a photo of you that has been published by someone else. Take the time to take care of your image.
Clean up your account
First, make sure you really know your friends and remove from your friends list all the people you are not sure about. People do not know that you are removing them and few of them will realize that they no longer see your publications. Personally, I have defined a criterion to decide whether to accept new friends: "Would I like having a coffee or beer with him/her?”
Then, make sure that your publications are private, not public. If you want to publish something "Public", there is no problem as long as you publish neutral photos or comments: landscapes, quotes that are not subject to controversy, harmless sentences. Everything about your personal activities, your relatives, anything controversial, your criticisms, must be published in private, for your friends only, or not at all!
If your employer is among your friends, think before publishing or remove him/her.
Think before you post
Nowadays, there is no need to be a private investigator to search and find occurrences on a person on the Internet: photos, videos, texts, or even an obituary notice or other documents. Google your name and you'll see what comes out.
Don't post your doubts about your new job on Facebook. Simply avoid any comments about your work and your company, even in private. Some employees were dismissed in France because their friends had reported them to their employer.
Avoid all topics that upset or disturb, unless you are an activist or a politician. This also includes comments from other people's publications.
Usually, the private mode comes automatically if your previous publication was private. Beware of friends who publish the photo of the night you were in a bad situation! Don't post it on your wall or delete it, if your friends haven't asked you for your opinion. Ask your friends to be respectful and not to publish anything without your permission.
I was recently mandated for a freelance translation by a person who found me on Facebook: a big, interesting, serious and well-paid mandate for a UN agency... through Facebook! I never would have believed it. But how did she find me? I don't know, and neither does she. Probably by one of the many algorithms that rhythms social networks. I personally know people who work for the UN and I guess that's how my name came out.
1. Sort your friends.
2. Think about who each publication is intended for. Friends? Public? Or simply give up publishing.
3. Publish (in public) only what you think is acceptable to your (future) employer.
4. Ask your friends to respect your way of doing things. If necessary, you can report a publication, which can be removed by Facebook.
5. Be careful with comments, both from you and your friends. If your friends comment on a post in an inappropriate way, you can delete their comment or even the whole post. You will then explain to them why you did it, which will prevent further offense.
6. Think before you like or share a publication. In serious cases, damages may be claimed, criminal sanctions may be incurred for this type of action. Avoid sharing controversial publications.
7. Google yourself and erase everything that is compromising. Think of your publications republished or retweeted by your friends.
8. Feel free to deactivate your account during your job search, the publications will no longer be visible, and you can reactivate your account later. If you close your Facebook account, the data is deleted after 14 days, but disappearing completely from the Internet requires perseverance.
Conclusion: have common sense
In any case, common sense is needed. A picture of you with a glass in your hand is ok. But if all the pictures on your wall show you in bars drinking, it gives the wrong impression. Under the influence of a strong emotion, it is better to go for a real coffee with a real friend, than to publish your mood swings on Facebook.