Lessons Learned from Steve Jobs’ FBI File

Steve Jobs' FBI File Teaches Job Seekers a Lesson
The FBI’s file about Steve Jobs, compiled in 1991 when he was being considered for George H.W. Bush’s Export Council, offers a great lesson on being prepared for your employer’s scrutiny. In the file, Jobs’ use of recreational drugs during his youth was revealed, and although people who worked with him spoke highly of his intelligence and abilities, he was also called manipulative and stubborn, especially when he didn’t get his way. In this case, the “employer”— the government —hired Jobs anyway, but in many situations that kind of information would leave your resume in the trash can.

Of course most of the people you send applications to won’t be able to conduct such thorough background checks and interviews…but they also don’t need to. They may already have direct access to you and your history, thanks to your participation in social media.

Whether you’re just starting a job search or are in the middle of one, you should take some time as soon as possible to look over all of your social media profiles. Look at every tweet, every status update, every photo, and ask yourself: “Would I have said this in front of or shown this to my toughest boss?” If the answer is no, get rid of it, either by deleting it or marking it private.

This is especially important on Facebook as the company gets ready to roll out Timeline, forcing every user to adopt the new standard. Here are a few tips:

First, check and see what your profile looks like to the general public (people who have no relation to you), how it looks to a friend, and how it looks to a “friend of a friend.” You can do this easily by going to your profile and clicking the “View As…” button in the upper-right corner, below the menu bar. Make sure you know what a potential employer can see— and what they can see if they ask you to friend them. (They might!)

A second helpful tip: if you go into your privacy settings, you can set what your posts default to in terms of privacy. You will probably want them to go “Friends Only” by default, but if you have divided your friends into Lists on the site, you can specify the individuals who you would like to have see every post.

Also on the privacy settings page is an option called “Limit the Audience for Past Posts.” To the right of this option you’ll see a link that says “Manage Past Post Visibility.” By clicking this link, you can automatically set all of your past posts to be viewable only to friends.

In today’s job market, you need to remove every possible disadvantage…and certain kinds of social media posts can be just that.

Above image © Ben Stanfield

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