Happy 10th Anniversary Facebook! Since your inception, you've dropped the "The," you've added photo albums and chat, and, along with Google, have basically made it impossible to stay anonymous on the Internet.
That's not always a problem. Most of us are, after all, unremarkable and uninteresting. But when searching for a job, we've learned a few lessons about reasserting our privacy.
For those on the job hunt, here are six tweaks you should make now to hide your personal life from your potential professional one:
6. Deactivate Facebook
Nothing is safer than not having a Facebook at all. Facebook allows you to deactivate your account, temporarily or permanently. Your, easiest, quickest, and safest route is to put Facebook on hold until after you've landed your day job.
5. Change Your Email Address, Phone Number
Stalking tip #57: if you want to find someone on Facebook, search using any known email addresses or phone number. That's the quickest way to find someone, regardless of privacy tweaks, distorted profile pics, or fake names. For job-hunters, you can disable this feature. And if you're really paranoid, change your account's phone number and email address to fake and/or secret alternatives.
4. Change Your Name
We've seen some friends go with First Middle, or Nickname Last, or absolute nonsensical gibberish that only their friends would recognize. Someone searching for Jonathan Michael Doe won't find Jack Mike nearly as easy. Just be prepared for the stupid questions from life-long friends after you've adopted an alias. (Has your name always been Willard?)
3. Vague Headshot
Prospective employers will probably check your LinkedIn, or search for you on Google. If there is a picture of your face anywhere on the Internet, they will find it. Then, they'll go through Facebook, searching for variations on your name. If they get lucky, they'll find your profile and match the face. Pick a zoomed-out picture with sunglasses, or better yet, a picture of someone or something else entirely.
2. Clean House
Speaking of headshots, that hilarious profile picture of you doing body shots off of a Chris Farley lookalike? Burn it. Go through all of your photos and think: what would Bill Cosby say? Ditto for old wall posts, notes, and every other piece of content on your page. Yes, your privacy settings are maxed out, but paranoid and employed beats embarrassed and unemployed. (See, told you deactivating was easier.)
1. Amp Up Your Privacy Settings to Paranoid
Facebook's privacy settings will let you hide every past wall posting, hide all of your photos, remove yourself from Google, and basically make sure that anyone who isn't friends with you that stumbles upon your profile only sees your carefully chosen vague headshot and fake name. We've got a list of ten settings you need to tweak on our Technologist Blog.
Any other Facebookish tips for prospective job hunters? Tweet us @FindLawLP.
- How Not To (or How To) Get a Law Job: Post Nude Selfies on Facebook (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)
- Things Law Students Should Never Do on Social Media (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)
- Top 5 Social Media Mishaps by Lawyers and Law Students of 2013 (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)