Changing your name on Facebook when you apply for jobs is a waste of time
We spoke to an employment expert on how to clean up your social media
How do you change your name on facebook?
When the grad schemes open in September, Facebook comes alive with names without vowels, anagrams and all the best photos get deleted.
The most desperate start taking themselves a bit too seriously, changing their middle name to their surname and making their profiles private.
But if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that potential employers will be eyeing up your Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram.
The scramble to delete posts from 2008 on which VK flavour tastes the best is all too real, but where’s the best place to start when cleaning up your social media.
We spoke to expert tutor Ajeet Minhas (who usually charges £200 an hour for an interview masterclass) on why changing your Facebook name is a waste of time and what you really should be deleting.
Don’t change your name, they’ll find you anyway
Ajeet makes the point that even if you try to hide your name, your email and phone number can be used as search tools if they are still attached to the account.
He said: “You can still be detected. When you search for a person it’s not necessarily by name as a keyword.
“I’d suggest coming up with separate email accounts and use this for CV and career matters.
“If you do use an alternative for your actual name or a handle – make sure it doesn’t sound silly like ‘notorious Derek’.”
Some people have genuine reasons for putting their Facebook on lockdown, like stopping their family knowing what they’re up to.
Ajeet says this is fine, but you should still be careful what you admit on any applications.
He said: “Employers have specifically asked candidates on forms and in interviews whether they use social media.
“If you leave it off or don’t reply honestly and they find you later or struggle to track you down it could make you look a bit suspicious.
Employers will be Facebook stalking you and this is unavoidable
Ajeet warned: “Are they likely to look? Of course they are – 93 per cent of serious recruiters do. They want get to see the non-professional side of a person too.
“They do what I like to call ‘enhanced due diligence’ – they don’t just live offline and will use Google to find you.
“They want to make sure the points presented on a CV are represented online too on an informal social media platform – the same applies to Twitter and Instagram too.”
Ajeet said their searching isn’t at all sinister, but they just want to see if you’re the right fit for the position and the organisation.
He added: “Whenever a client comes to me I would routinely do a social media search on them.
“If I see some publicly available content which makes a person look a bit questionable or unsensible then that’s going to affect their chances.
“If you’re meeting someone on a social level then it’s quite natural to consider what you can find out about a person online, and employers are the same.”
You should still hide some incriminating photos though
Don’t get caught out doing something dodgy in your profile picture.
Ajeet said: “The obvious thing would be anything that looks illegal – playing around with guns.
“Also anything that looks unethical like obvious drinking.
“If one person is likely to find it offensive then you should think about hiding that content.”
Making your entire account private is a bad idea
Ajeet said: “Hirers don’t tend to like people completely locking down Facebook accounts – the same with other social media accounts.
“You are missing out on getting that competitive edge by not having a social media presence and providing a very limited view of yourself.
“It takes away the opportunity to learn more about the person. That doesn’t necessarily mean someone with a locked profile is doing something bad in their private life.
“But I know executive directors and partners in firms who have always been private and haven’t taken to social media in the same way young people have.
“It’s important to be visible. You should have at least one account with your measured personality and thinking on display.”
Don’t get into Twitter fights
It might seem like everyone on Twitter is having one big argument, but it’s best to stay out of it.
Ajeet said: “Your followers or anyone linked with a hashtag can see what you post and can share anything – good or bad- which you’ve posted. Don’t put anything that looks extreme or controversial.
“I’ve seen Tweets from my followers who have engaged in arguments and it looks really bad.
“There’s a difference between being passionate about expressing your political views and being plain offensive and hostile.
“No employer will want someone who is a destructive force. Try to be neutral and stay away from controversy because it will stick.”
Instagram should be fine, just don’t do anything illegal or unethical
Ajeet said “A picture speaks a thousand words, so it’s important to be mindful of the type of visuals you are uploading.”
Apparently self-regulating is the key, and thinking how potential employers might see your photos is the best way forward.
He added: “Instagram is an interesting one because unlike the others it focuses on enabling us to share visual content.
“Anything which is illegal, unethical – avoid it.”