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July 13, 2009

Facebook Hide-and-Seek

In this post: Jaimy explains why masking your identity on Facebook can be a bad decision for a recent college grad …

Jaimy SyzmanskiOne of the worst decisions you can make as a recent college grad is to mask your identity on Facebook.
I’ve seen this trend become increasingly popular within my personal Facebook network, especially among those who are fresh to the ‘real world,’ leaving their college life behind. At this point, about two percent of my connections use a nickname, a first and middle name, or even spell their name backward, to guise their true identity in the event of future-employer search on the social network.
This trend is an unwise – to put it nicely – decision for a number of reasons:
  • If an employer really wants to find you, they will. Maybe not before the interview if you’re uber-sneaky, but at some point during your employment, your profile will likely be discovered. How will you explain your hiding at that point? No explanation you have will be kosher, and an element of distrust will always pollute the air.
  • You risk the chance of appearing behind-the-times and not tech-savvy to your future employer. I know that, especially in this industry, a presence on social networks is crucial. Why would you want to appear a lacking candidate, when in reality you have established a large network and know how to use social networking tools like Facebook?
  • Personal search engine optimization suffers. Recent grads may not think this is important right now, but will see its value in the future. When developing your personal brand, you want people to be able to easily search your credentials and presence out via search engines. The more full-name references you have online that are consistently updated, the better SEO you’ll receive.
  • You look shifty to your current network. Bottom line: The minute I see a connection change their Facebook name to something less-than-truthful, I evaluate their judgment and character. If members of your personal network think this way, imagine how a future employer would evaluate you.

If you’re a Gen-Yer like me, I’m sure you’ve seen a similar trend develop in your online social network – be it Facebook or otherwise. I have to wonder, ‘why?’ If an individual is that concerned with the content of his or her Facebook page being visible to public entities, privacy options do exist for a full profile as well as individual user groups. Ensuring your photos or wall posts are kept private while still keeping your general profile information public is a much better avenue to walk down than masking your identity completely.

What do you think of the idea of playing Facebook hide-and-seek with potential or current employers? Yea or nay?