In the digital age, it’s important for job seekers to protect their privacy on the internet, even though it’s not easy to do. Indeed, social networks and search engines record a large amount of information about individuals, information that is not always intended to be made public and even less so to a potential employer. When searching for a job, it’s therefore important to check beforehand that the private data available on the internet will not hinder a potential application and that your various social network accounts are correctly set.
Phone number and e-mail address: an access to social networks
When you give your mobile phone number or e-mail address to recruiters, you may appear as a suggested friend on their Facebook account. Indeed, by entering on Facebook the mobile phone number and/or e-mail address used to apply for a job, anyone can potentially have access to the applicant’s page.
If the recruiter receives an e-mail from the candidate, calls him from his mobile phone or exchanges texts with him and that the recruiter has enabled Facebook to suggest new friends based on phone numbers and e-mail addresses present in his call log, message history or address book, the candidate’s page will also appear among suggested friends on the recruiter’s Facebook page! The recruiter may then be tempted to take a peek at the candidate's page.
Set up Facebook properly and limit access to your information
When looking for a job, it is therefore imperative for a candidate to preserve their privacy on social networks by correctly setting up their accounts.
- Prevent Facebook from allowing users to find your profile through your phone number or e-mail address
- Preview your profile using the ‘View as’ tool to ensure that everything that is visible in public mode does not compromise your professional profile (party photos, strong political views, etc.)
- If some public content seems inappropriate to you, you can choose who can see it to restrict its visibility or even remove it. When the content is published by a third party, you can delete its tag or ask the person who posted it to remove it.
These recommendations are applicable to most social networks such as Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat that suggest profiles based on phone numbers and e-mail addresses. It is therefore important to check the settings of these networks as well. The Help sections of these platforms explain how to do this.
Please note: On WhatsApp, Viber or Skype, your profile picture and/or status may be visible to recruiters, depending on your privacy settings. Choose an appropriate photograph to make sure your profile looks as professional as possible.
Keep search engines in check
Recruiters are curious. They can even be tempted to Google you!
We recommend that you Google yourself to see what comes up, without forgetting to look at the Image tabs and News results. Here again you must make sure that what appears in Google results does not put your job application in jeopardy.
For example, gamers who are active on public gaming forums, must make sure not to publish their real names as their comments may appear on Google. Similarly, sites offering you to find childhood friends often enable their members’ profile to appear in Google results. You may not want your chubby childhood face appearing on Google! Displaying political or religious beliefs on the Web can also have a negative impact. Although it’s inappropriate and even illegal to judge a candidate on such criteria, it can make future employers feel uncomfortable, especially if they have a totally different point of view.
Recruiters also have a personal life. You may not be rejected because you had a party with your friends and a photo has
leaked onto the Internet, the recruiter may even have a more compromising past than you! However, between two equivalent profiles, your behaviour on social media could tip the balance against you, especially if the comments made on the internet are vulgar or insulting.