Refresh your social networks, your future job could depend on it

Bradley Wint
By: - 18th Apr 2013
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Ever looked back at your Facebook or Twitter profiles and wondered what you were thinking when you made those posts? Your future employers may be doing the same.

Since the introduction of Facebook’s timeline profiles back in late 2011, they also added the option of allowing you to scroll through your past with an easy navigator to the right hand side of your profile page. It allows you scroll back by year and then on a monthly basis. Before the feature, you could still go as far back as 2007, but it would mean having to load every single post from now until then, and I’m sure very few of us would spend that much time to dig up dirt.

Now that they’ve made it extremely easy to do, it’s not hard to go back to those 2008 photos of you being drunk in Cancun or those times when you went ballistic during a rant. People do change over time though, but sadly many employers may not consider this, and may end up judging you as a party freak, mentally disturbed, shy, and so on.

The same can apply to other social networks like Twitter or even Tumblr (if they go that far).

Having a bachelor’s degree these days is the same as saying you that you have a high school diploma back in the 1990′s. With this in mind, employers are looking for any little detail they can find to separate the best from the rest. If you’re applying for jobs where a bit of past bad reputation could ruin your chances of employment, then maybe it’s time you did some social spring cleaning.

Trim your profiles

In the case of Facebook (or any other social network that allows you to control the privacy of your posts), consider these options.

  • Delete friends you don’t communicate with or those that are inactive – Let’s face it, even though we’ve built up quite an extensive list of friends, some of them have eventually dropped off by the wayside or just don’t talk to you anymore. There really isn’t an issue having friends like this on your list, but having more friends does increase your chances of being discovered by potential employers. Also, there are the rare chances that one of those more inactive friends could end up working for the same company that you’re applying for and could rat you out if your profile isn’t up to standard.
  • Adjusting privacy settings – Facebook has made it easy to manage your profile privacy, and even allows you the option of reverting all your past posts to be viewable by ‘friends only’. You can also adjust photo album privacy to hide those crazy wet-n-wild parties you attended. If you’re on Twitter, there is always the option of switching to ‘Protected Tweets’ which hides all tweets from non-followers. This might be a good time to use the block/unblock method to force those unwanted followers from following you.

Creating new profiles

There may be the few times where starting from scratch makes more sense. At least with Facebook and Twitter, you can have all your content downloaded for storage should you want to refer back to it. If you want to refer to something back in 2009, having an offline copy would make more sense rather than risking having incriminating content online.

  • Facebook – On your accounts settings page, you can download a copy of your profile which includes your uploaded photos and videos, Wall posts, messages and chat conversations, as well as your friends’ names and some of their email addresses. You can generate a copy here.
  • Twitter – Twitter recently implemented the option of allowing you to back up your tweets into a neat archive. It can be done here.

Most other networks don’t offer back-up services unfortunately, so it’s up to you to make that decision if you want to get rid off it all and start afresh.

Now that you’ve gotten things under control, remember to think about the implications of what you post before actually posting it.

These tips only apply to situations where a not-so-conservative profile could lessen your chances of getting a job, but there are many jobs out there that don’t require you being clean-cut around the edges.

[Cover Photo: JoshSemans/Flickr]

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