When you think about a background check, what comes to mind?
I used to think a background check was simply verifying your past employment and seeing if you have a criminal record. A background check is so much more than that.
Background checks are typically performed by hiring managers or HR professionals after interviewing you. Most start by doing a Google search of your name to see what sort of online presence you have. Your social media profiles are typically the top search results, so making sure your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles are positioning you for success should be a top priority.
In fact, a 2016 Jobvite Survey shares that 43% of recruiters will use Facebook to evaluate a candidate.
Why wouldn’t you use Facebook to get a job? You’re scrolling through it throughout most of your day anyway. Whether you’re starting a new job search or have an upcoming interview, it’s time to revisit your Facebook profile and make a few changes that will help you stand out during a background check.
Update Your Contact Information
You will want to start by updating your contact information which is front-and-center (actually, on the right-hand side) of the Overview section when you click on your profile’s About tab. Make sure that your mobile phone number, address, email, and any websites or social links are accurate. Your email may still be set as the non-professional, silly email address that you used when you first signed up for a Facebook profile. This won’t leave the best first impression.
You can also change the privacy settings to manipulate what hiring managers or HR professionals will see. I recommend setting your address as your city and state location to help verify that they are looking at the right person’s profile and making this Public. I also recommend making your mobile phone and email public to not only make it easier for viewers to verify that they are looking at the right person’s profile but also make it easier for them to contact you.
Optimize Your Intro
You may have noticed that your Facebook profile has an Intro or Bio section at the top that allows you to create a 101-character headline. You can use this Intro or Bio to your advantage by optimizing it with keywords the hiring manager or HR professional were looking for in your resume. Typically, a headline like this will briefly highlight your qualifications or skills and career goals.
Sure, you can fill this space with emojis or talk about your kids. Or you can use your Intro or Bio to show that you’re a focused professional and resourceful job seeker. My Facebook profile Intro or Bio is a condensed version of my mission statement: “I create resumes and LinkedIn profiles that present you as the best fit for your ideal job.” Here’s another example: “Public Relations & Marketing Manager raising visibility and awareness for boutique retail stores.”
Add Your Work History
Remember changing your dates of employment and adding a new job to your Facebook profile? A hiring manager or HR professional can find your work history on your profile under your Intro section (depending on how many are listed as Public) and in both the Overview and Work and Education sections when you click on your profile’s About tab.
What you may not have known until now is that you can edit your work experience to include a rather lengthy description. This is a great place to describe your typical tasks and showcase your achievements or job target-related skills as you would in your resume. You can even add details regarding specific projects (similar to LinkedIn!). Having consistent details across your resume, LinkedIn profile, and Facebook profile will improve the perception of you as a professional.
Add Your Education
If you haven’t already, you can and should also add your education and any other major life events such as publishing a book or paper, studying abroad, volunteering, military service, moving, learning new languages, and earning additional achievements or awards. These will not only boost your profile but give hiring managers and HR professionals a more well-rounded view of how you spend your time.
How you spend your time can be heavily associated with your passions, values, and interests which are taken into consideration when considering whether or not you will fit in with the company culture. For example, a company that heavily values commitment to service will be interested in more details concerning volunteer experience that you indicated on your resume but didn’t have space to elaborate on.
Add Details About You
Under the Details About You section on your Facebook profile, you can use this space to tell your unique story. You can elaborate on your career goals, your passions, your values, and your ideal company or role. To save some time and maintain a consistent personal brand, you could even rework your LinkedIn profile Summary for this section.
Most Facebook users ignore this section or add a short paragraph when they first create their profile offering little to no value to employers. Completely filling out your Facebook profile with details that a hiring manager or HR professional will want to see may actually give you an advantage during a background check.
Review Your Photos
Background checks are not limited to verifying employment or qualifications, and most background checks on Facebook end here. If you have photos that are Public and display inappropriate behavior, heavy drinking, drug usage, religious, or political views, you will likely not pass this background check. In fact, your photos may be more discriminatory than you realized.
If your photos reflect attitudes or behaviors that the company finds offensive or inappropriate, you will likely not move forward in the hiring process. To improve your chances of moving forward, delete any questionable photos that you posted and untag any questionable photos that are linked to your profile.
Check Your Post Visibility Settings
Next, check your post visibility settings. You can find these under the Privacy section and Timeline and Tagging section of your Settings. Make sure that your future posts can only be seen by Friends (You can change this for individual posts as you post them if something is safe to post publicly). You can also quickly change the privacy settings of past posts by clicking the Limit Past Posts button. This will instantly change any Public or Friends of Friends post visibility to Friends Only.
What posts may you want to make public on your profile? Any of those major life events that we discussed, appropriate family and friends photos, or appropriate photos that showcase your hobbies and interests are great ways to boost your public profile.
Update This Critical Privacy Setting
Under that Privacy section of your Settings, you’ll also find an option to make your profile visible in search results. This is a critically important privacy setting that will allow hiring managers and HR professionals to quickly find your profile when running a background check on you using Google or another search engine.
The easier you make it for employers to find you online and see the value you have to offer with a positive online presence, the more likely you will stand out during a background check.
Update your profile and adjust your Facebook profile settings to stand out during a background check.