Millennials and Generation Z have been hooked to the internet since infancy, so there’s a fairly good chance that the majority of people applying for our roles will have some kind of online history. The important thing is making sure you’ve got the highest possible privacy settings on social media profiles and that you delete anything you wouldn’t be happy to put on your CV.
If you’ve spoken to one of our consultants, you can be absolutely sure they’ve had a look at you on LinkedIn. We love to see a well-maintained profile as it helps us to find you and suggests that you’re a business-savvy, 21st century networker. However, were you aware that we and the clients we pass you on to are also looking into your lives on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter? We’re not hacking into accounts here, we’re searching for what’s freely available on the web.
We’ve certainly seen some things. One consultant had to advise a candidate to change his Facebook profile to one where he wasn’t wearing a mankini before we could send his CV to our client. Another swim-suit disaster happened to a candidate who had made her entire Facebook profile public. She’d clearly forgotten about the hot-tub cinema club she’d attended in a bikini when she applied for a private equity role within a conservative UAE firm.
It’s not just being scantily clad that gets you in trouble, it’s also what you say that matters. As a general rule, anything offensive or anything overtly political should be avoided completely. Check your profile carefully, going back to university days when opinions may have flowed more freely. The Facebook pages of groups you joined at university could be more widely accessible, so make sure there are no traces of you left there.
This detective work can be burdensome, especially for those who did not grow up online. As such, more and more of our clients are farming this task out to background screening firms that include a media search as part of their process. Again, they won’t hack accounts, but they’re experts at digging around in your publicly available online past and present, so be thorough.
Finally, when it comes to LinkedIn, keep your presence simple and professional. State your experience, make relevant connections and maybe even make the odd positive comment on a contact’s post. Some careers benefit from a strong, outspoken social media presence but private equity isn’t usually one of them.