My mother always taught me to keep my face clean if I wanted to make good impression, but a generation later this has new meaning.

Every now and again we all want to appear at our smartest and create a positive impact, and never more so than when we are trying to impress a new employer.  For the generation entering the workplace for the first time things have not been more competitive in living memory, the fight to secure even an interview is fierce – but if you are in this position, there could be factors holding you back that you have never considered.

I am currently personally going through the process of hiring a new project manager, and every applicant worth considering has already sent me all their key social media profile links – it’s that kind of job, but as well as checking out the links they send me I will Google them too of course.  Making a decision to employ someone is very difficult to get right, and I will use whatever information I can legitimately get my hands on, formally or informally, to ensure I make the best choice – every employer you approach will surely do the same.

Facebook is of course where a lot of our personal social stuff gets collated, along with photographic evidence to boot, and of or not you would be a good fit or whether you may have another side to you that didn’t come up at interview…

One new app which could soon help you to clean up your act is Facewash, coming soon to the global Facebook platform.

Created by a small team of US undergraduates, these guys know what you are up against: “You spent the last four years being a college kid. And that’s wonderful. But a lot can happen in four years, and Facebook never forgets” The free app is ideal for helping transition your online presence from that of party animal student to something more approaching that of a professional in the making, creators Camden Fullmer, Daniel Gur and David Steinberg say on their page.

Like many apps Facewash does require access to your photos, address book and statuses, as you might expect, and reports suggest it does a fair job of zeroing in by keyword, on anything you might rather remain hidden.  It’s still in beta at present and not yet available to accounts based in Europe so we can’t get our hands on it quite, but it’s generated a lot of interest amongst the US careers networks.  Of course, it is inevitably a hot topic amongst careers advisers in educational establishments around the world, each new wave of graduates and other young job seekers is increasingly likely to have grown up online and have a full and rich timeline charting their every moment, not all of which they want a potential employer to see.

Woman washing her faceBut it’s not just an issue if you are job-hunting.  For a start, one day you probably will be – and online is forever, even with apps like this its very hard to remove everything you would prefer not to share, and far better if it never makes it out there in the first place.

And whereas a few years ago your Facebook friends list probably consisted of mainly your mates of the same generation, mine now spans several – including my teenage daughter and a friends’ grandmother in her 90s.  Now my daughter has only just reached the age of Facebook legality but I am sure within a few years she will have to think about what she is sharing and whether she wants her parents and grandparents to read it.  If you haven’t had a friend request from your nan yet, it could be coming soon.

Of course even when Facewash is more widely available, it won’t be bulletproof.  Only you can make sure your public ‘Face’ is suitably scrubbed up.  If you go to your Timeline, just under your cover pic on the right next to where it says ‘Activity Log’ there is a little cog icon, and if you click that you can select ‘view as’ – take a look at what someone not on your friends list can see about you simply by putting your name in a search box.  If most of your posts and photos are set to ‘friends only’, as they should be, it won’t be much at all, and that’s all the snoopers from the HR department will see.

If your new boss sends you a friend request though, are you still happy with what will be revealed if you accept?  If the answer to this is ‘no’ or ‘not sure’, then a bit of time going back over your timeline and doing a bit of discreet hiding and deleting may be in order.  It’s your profile, so good to own it and take responsibility for what’s on it.

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On another subject entirely, a quick shout-out to Ted Palmer from www.entertainmentsunlimited.com in Torrox, who wrote in after my recent comments about using laptops in the sunlight.  Ted is very pleased with his Samsung NP700Z5A-S05UK, which at maximum screen brightness is apparently perfectly good for using out of doors in the bright Spanish sunshine – thanks Ted for sharing the results of your search, I will be working under that palm tree yet!

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Published in Costa Blanca News, 22-02-13

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