Recruiters Using Facebook… as a Reference Check

“Facebook is only for my personal life. I use LinkedIn for career stuff.”

– Mr. Jo B. Seeker

Too bad, Mr. Seeker… because whether or not YOU are using Facebook to assist your job search, up to 85% of recruiters now use Facebook during their vetting process – and they’re using it to eliminate you from consideration.

“But I have all my privacy settings engaged. They can’t see anything.”

– Ms. Candi Date

Sorry, Candi… most do not set up their privacy settings – at all, or correctly – and with just a couple clicks through the friends in your network I can learn enough to decide whether you are worthy of consideration as a candidate, or not.

Recruiters are not crazy. They’re going to use whatever tools they have at their disposal to make sure you’re worthy of their time, have earned a call-back, and would be a good fit at their company.

Specifically, they’re using Facebook – privacy settings engaged or not – as a reference check.

Not in the way we traditionally think of reference checks, of course. In the “old days” you were allowed to place “references available upon request” on your resume, as if it represented a proud statement of confidence. Only after you had survived the first interview were you asked for your hand picked references, which every recruiter knew would offer you a glowing review.

With Facebook, recruiters see the “real” you – not the “interview” you. They also see your “real” family, friends, pets, old sweethearts, ex-wives… everything.

The see how you handle conflict and confrontation. They are witness to your conversational style and ability to communicate. They see what you’re passionate about, and the areas in your life where you may be a bit passive. They see if you are ready for the next stage in your career development, or still have pictures of the intoxicated you with your shirt off in 23 degree weather with the ‘A’ from “WILDCATS” painted on your chest during a football game (not exactly their idea of a “team player”).

You want them to see determination. More likely, they see drama. You want to present professionalism. Chances are much greater they’ll see posturing. You would choose to present ambition, instead they’ll see “WTF! Is this day EVER going to end? Longest Day Ever. FML!” – and realize that was written during your time with your last employer.

Most important… if they look hard enough at what is a typical Facebook account they will find reasons to eliminate you. And no matter how many applications you submit, you will not get an interview.

Before you submit even one more application – you MUST go through your Facebook account and remove all postings, pictures and comments that do not present the “interview” you to a potential employer. You’ll be eliminating one potential reason that a recruiter may be using – to eliminate you.

For more on the Facebook TMI topic, see “Top 10 WTF TMI Mistakes: Blowing the Second First Impression“.

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