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Thoughts On How Much Your Facebook Page Sucks From an HR Manager

Remember yesterday when we talked about LinkedIn? Sure you do, it just happened. Anyway, the discussion prompted one HR manager to reach out to me with related thoughts on Facebook. Keep in mind this person is directly in charge of hiring at an unnamed mid-size firm that, as far as I am aware, treats its staff pretty well (great culture, competitive salary, CPA exam support, etc). I suggest those of you looking for work pay close attention to the following.

Reading GC again this morning. I can never tell if this behavior is an indication of job engagement or apathy. Nonetheless, the inquiry about LinkedIn sparked some reallypful dialogue. It caused me to think about what I perceive as much needed guidance on Facebook.

I know you field a lot of inquiries from those who aspire to be slave laborers CPAs. I think these folks are missing out on the basic do’s and don’ts of Facebook. While I loved the rule “facebook is for the people i enjoy being around and linkedin is for the people i am paid to be around” irresponsible Facebook privacy settings are abundant and makes TMI available to recruiters.

Case in point: I recently learned the name of a student who accepted our offer. I couldn’t recall exactly who he was- give me a break, I speak with hundreds of students- so I typed his name into FB. Not only could I see the profile pic I was looking for, I was able to view all of his albums. I want to rescind the offer after viewing the album of his fraternity trip to Vegas. (And yes, I know that I didn’t have to look, but we don’t have to look at car accidents and we still do.)

Second case: A candidate is coming in to the office for an interview. The staff accountant assigned to take the candidate out to lunch does a name search on Facebook. Before the candidate arrives to the office, the email system is routing pictures of said aspiring CPA in a toga. So much for a first impression that conveys professionalism.

Also, one doesn’t even have to go to Facebook to see these pictures. I have Outlook Social Connector, which integrates Facebook and Outlook. If a person emails me from an email account associated with their Facebook account, guess what: at the bottom of their email message, I can see any information that is public (e.g. their profile picture and wall).

I am sure other professionals and recruiters have similar stories. Can GC give these kids a heads up?

Lord knows we’ve tried.

Doesn’t everyone know recruiters and hiring managers check Facebook? I thought that was common knowledge but maybe not, or maybe people don’t realize that pics of them drinking in Vegas are not as cool to recruiters as they might be to their friends.

A few quick tips:

Make sure your Facebook settings are TOTALLY private and not just lazy private. The broader Facebook privacy setting will only block your wall from strangers but your friends, likes and EVERY SINGLE PICTURE are still out there for others to stalk. Since Facebook privacy settings are subject to change (and do, constantly), it’s your job to stay on top of things and make sure you’re only sharing what you want to share.

Use an email you don’t often use as your Facebook login email. This is common sense. When I was screening interviewees for my last job, I would routinely plug their email addresses in to see who would pop up and, not surprisingly, almost everyone did. Let’s just say a few of them did not get interviews. Gmail is free, there’s no reason not to have a spare for this purpose.

Reconsider your profile picture! True story, one of our CPA exam students emailed me with a sob story about how he had been unable to study for weeks and therefore failed his exam miserably and not only wanted advice on how to pass but free time to study even though he’d used up most of the time on his course. Well he forgot we were also friends on Facebook, so when he popped up in my timeline, I couldn’t help but notice the picture of him partying in Mexico with a half-spilled Corona in his hand. The picture had been uploaded the week before his exam, and was even conveniently captioned with “had a great time last week!” so I knew that he was totally full of shit. While not all cases are that extreme or closely connected, it is important to put your best foot forward on Facebook, at least if you are going to allow strangers to see your profile photo. If you can’t handle using a professional shot for your profile, change your privacy setting so no one but your friends can see it.

I’m sure there are a bunch of things I’m missing here, so if anyone has anything to add, you know what to do.

Fraudbusters Get a Lesson in Internet Stalking

Yesterday I sat in a session at the ACFE Fraud Conference and Exhibit entitled “Effectively Using Social Networks and Social Media in Fraud Examinations” with a few hundred [?] fraudbusters and I got the impression that few people in the room were social media savvy (in the stalk-y sense, anyway). I came to this conclusion after watching most of the hands in the room go up when asked “who thinks social media is a waste of time?” and saw nearly same amount of hands raised when asked “do you have some sort of social network presence?”

Cynthia Hetherington, President of Hetherington Group, described herself as “[A] librarian, a technologist and licensed private investigator. So, I’m a nerd, I’m a geek and I’m a dick,” was the speaker for this particular session and a lot of her talk introduced the crowd to the idea of stalking people on the Internet. She knew her crowd well, as a joke about Laverne & Shirley’s apartment got plenty of laughs, while a quip about Snooki got crickets. This reinforced my suspicion that the idea that of curating information about financial crooks using Facebook and Twitter was new to many in the room.

Now, the majority of people listening may have known it was possible to find partially-nude pics on someone’s Facebook profile or Twitter account (which she demonstrated in one non-Anthony Weiner example) but maybe they hadn’t considered that they could learn a lot of other useful information about someone they were investigating.

In short, Ms. Herrington explained to the biz casual crowd that you can find out a lot of information about a person just by poking around their social media accounts. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you can learn someone’s likes, dislikes, their political leanings, where they’ve lived, who their friends are, etc. and use that information to build a profile, analyze behavior or in some cases, find out where someone maybe hiding.

What does all this mean? Opportunity my friends. If you fancy yourself social media and Internet savvy, you probably have a leg up on many of the vets in the fraud and forensics business when it comes to poking around the Web and finding information on people of interest to you. Sure you may not have their years of investigative expertise, extensive contacts or an aging wardrobe but you may have successfully Web-stalked ex-significant others, crushes and completely random people to learn things that they’ve volunteered into cyberspace. And here you thought your creepy behavior was completely worthless.