A lack of privacy online could sink your career

One of the most important things you can do... is understand the privacy settings on the platform you're using

Twenty years ago I had just left high school. Life was great. I'd enjoy good old fashioned boys' nights out where young male bravado was a key feature of the evening, and we'd get up to things we didn't want our mothers to see. But the big difference back then, compared to now, was that unless you were actually there, no-one else would know about it. "What happens on tour, stays on tour" was the motto we'd all smile and joke about.

Fast forward to today. Fundamentally, Gen Y often cops a pretty bad rap for their attitude and behaviour. But were we Gen Xers any better? Or worse? And what about those Baby Boomers? One look at my parents and you'd know they were up to no good. In reality, is one generation any different from the next?

My guess is probably not. The biggest difference between then and now is the way we communicate and record information. Everything is easier to capture now. We have cameras in phones (thanks to NASA), so life on the move can be recorded in an instant. What happens on tour doesn't necessarily stay on tour. It's shared on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, and many other digital platforms. And unfortunately, many people of all ages don't take the time to understand how to control their privacy online.

Why does this matter so much? Three little words - your employment prospects.

Employers are increasingly aware of how important brand reputation is, and it shows in the recruitment process. As an "unofficial" part of your application, more and more employers and recruitment agencies will go looking for dirt on you. They don't want your online antics dragging their good name through the mud. And rightly so. So if you have photos online of you drawing garden gnomes on the forehead of your passed out friend during last weekend's 'night out'… chances are they could end up being a deal-breaker. You can kiss that job interview goodbye.

This doesn't mean you should completely lock down all of your online profiles either, because that might raise suspicion. However, one of the most important things you can do in today's digital age of rapid-fire communication is to understand the details of the privacy settings on the platform you're using. Take the time to know them, and know them well.

And once you're comfortable that your settings are properly locked down to protect the dodgy stuff, there's nothing wrong with sharing and posting intelligent stuff that will let a recruiter know the type of person you are.

Oh, and if you don't want to attract instant attention for all the wrong reasons, be mindful of your swearing. And passcode lock your phone too!

Your job prospects are already looking better!


Here's a handy list of links to privacy tutorials of the major social media platforms: