Important! … Have I got your attention?

Do you know you have an additional referee to those listed on your resume? Well you do and that referee is called Google. When you apply for jobs, at some stage of the process, over 90% of recruiters and potential employers will Google your name to see what comes up. They aim to look at what you say and how you behave on social media. When clients come to a consultation with me I talk to them about this, and how it can have an adverse effect on their job search.

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their Facebook account is the belief they have set the privacy settings correctly to make their posts private. The quickest way to check this out is to do the following.

In Facebook, click on your Profile, now go to the little dots beside View Activity Log and click on View As. Go to the top of the page and you should see “This is what your profile looks like to: Public”. Now look at your posts. What do you see? What will a recruiter see? Have you shared or posted content which may potentially harm your career?

If you are now worried about what has been shared publicly and want to clean it up, go to Settings, click on Privacy and in the second section is an option to ‘Limit Past Posts’. If you click on that and select Friends, the previously public postings will now be private and no longer visible to the public. Check out all privacy settings while you are there. Repeat the process periodically to make sure nothing slips through.

We are all made of data…

To paraphrase a song by Moby: “We are all made of data.”  All of those bits and bytes of information trail that we leave behind on Google and Facebook can paint a picture for potential employers to follow.

I have worked in the alcohol and other drugs treatment sector since 1998.  In more recent years I have become interested in how social networks can be used by the alcohol and other drugs treatment sector to support learning and advocacy.  My forays into the world of internet and drugs has lead me to a very important conclusion: that people buy and sell drugs online, they talk about alcohol and other drugs online and they take pictures and movies of themselves while intoxicated and post them online.

Drugs and employment has been a contentious issue since the introduction of workplace drug testing.  While ideally any such programs are designed to ensure that an individual’s use of alcohol and/or other drugs does not interfere with workplace safety, testing programs do not measure impairment,  they instead measure whether somebody has been exposed to a drug or not over a period of time.  This last statement may be the most important part of the picture.  While most employers primary concern is about workplace safety, there are many who are unwilling to employ somebody who uses drugs regardless of whether this impacts upon work performance or not.

Drug testing is an expensive process and is done at the cost of employers.  It should not be surprising then to find that some employers are seeking to screen potential employees through cheaper methods.  One such way that they can do this is by spending a little time investigating a potential employee’s social media footprint.

Have you ever done a Google search on yourself?  What about a Google image search?  If a prospective employer was to do the same what would they find?

Some Tips

So what can you do?  I’ve listed below 5 tips for protecting the privacy of your online identity

  1. The golden rule – Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t be prepared to say or do in public.
  2. Be mindful of friend requests from unknown people.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that the person requesting may be a prospective employer undertaking some research.  Secondly some people use social media to promote products that you may not wish to be associated with.  (Think of a Facebook timeline filled with spam selling Viagra).
  3. Be aware that it may not be content that you have posted that could potentially foul up a job application.  (E.g. Do any of your friends love to take photos at a party and then post them to Facebook?)  If some does post something that may be damaging, then ask them to take it down.  Preferably approach the person offline or via email, after all you don’t want to create a larger footprint regarding the offending media.
  4. Unless it is specific to the job, providing details of your Facebook and/or other social network accounts as part of your CV is not recommended.
  5. When using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ make sure that you understand how the privacy settings work.

Finding out about privacy settings

If you want to find out more about how you can change the privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter or Google+, I have provided some links below.

Facebook Privacy

Privacy on Twitter

Google+ Privacy

Matt Gleeson has worked in the alcohol and other drugs sector since 1998 in a variety of roles. An advocate of life-long learning, consumer participation and harm reduction, Matt currently writes the blog Stonetree Harm Reduction, a website about the intersection of harm reduction and social media. 

Who’s Really Listening?

601It is intriguing in this age of modern technology where so many of us are joined at the hip with our mobile phones, laptop computers and numerous other communication devices, that one would consider asking the question, who’s really listening? Sit on a street bench and watch the world go by and you will observe people juggling a number of conversations all at the same time; face to face, on mobiles or laptop computers.  Sometimes when family or friends phone me I am at the computer and I have recently become aware that often I am sending emails or surfing the net while talking.

So in these situations, who is giving and who is receiving total attention, who is listening fully; and if we are not giving our full attention or listening, what is the impact of that on the people involved? Apart from the obvious fact that it is just plain rude, what message does it send to the person who is trying to speak to us?  Does it say that we don’t care about them enough or we haven’t got time for them?

Long experience has shown me that people want to feel heard and they also want to feel accepted, so is listening fully then not an important part of nurturing relationships and promoting well-being?

Since I have become aware that I am as guilty as anyone else of not giving my full attention, I have been making a concerted effort to move away from the computer and any other distractions when talking on the phone. I would love to be able to say that my change in approach is working 100% but I still have some way to go!

Technology has brought us wonderful opportunities including providing us with multiple frameworks for communication, so I am not arguing the benefits. I am simply asking, have we lost the art of focusing on and listening to the person speaking to us one on one; and if so, what is the cost of that? What do you think? How well do you really listen?