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Do employers look at your Facebook profile?

I was very please to be asked by Business in the Community Ireland to speak to the senior cycle students of Marian College about CVs and interviews. I’ve done this kind of talk many many times, but was very impressed with some of the questions I got from the students, who, it has o be said, are a credit to the staff at the school. These three in particular stood out, and I am including my answers with them. If you have an opinion, I’d welcome you to share your thoughts:

Q. Can you use humour in an interview as a devise to make things go well

My answer is yes, but with extreme caution, because, although it can go very well, it can also go badly wrong. Stay away from taboo topics, and perhaps wait a while until you have a sense of the interviewers personality.

Q. Is there anything you can say in an interview that will ruin your chances?

I try to keep an open mind until I have spoken to other interviews to make a decision. There are however certain things (such as sexism, racism, ageism, religious sectarianism and homophobia) which will definitely mean you will not be successful. Few (if any) companies in Ireland (and to my knowledge elsewhere) tolerate attitudes of this kind.

Q. Do employers look at social media (e.g. Facebook pages).

This is a very topical question, particularly with the latest Neknomination craze. The answer to my knowledge is that most employers understand that candidates will have a life outside work, know how to separate the two, and understand that Facebook is a social, not professional networking tool (and on a side note, jobseekers should definitely create a professional networking profile on Linkedin or similar).

There is a very grey line however where material exists that depicts socially unacceptable behaviour. Jobseekers should bear this in mind. I don’t want to mention the specific examples by name, but there have been numerous examples of pictures of people behaving outside the norms in public (at concerts, in fast food outlets and in bars).

While I think most employers will be sympathetic and look beyond material that is posted by third parties, if the subject of the material is the person who put it online, then it is implied that they think it is acceptable and are proud of it. It also demonstrates a lack of discretion and attention to detail if you have not configured privacy settings to prevent unwanted access.

Most importantly, as this is a very new area, the rules are changing daily, so my final thoughts are:

  • Be very careful what you post online – it can go a long way in seconds.
  • Be very careful how you behave around others where there are cameras and phones.

Lastly, I’d like to say thank you to the students and staff for having me and BITC for inviting me – it was a very interesting and thought-provoking afternoon.

And if you are reading this and have an opinion on this, it would be great to hear your thoughts – please post your comments!

Marian College

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