Changing your Facebook name to avoid employers, is it effective? 

Currently at University everyone is applying for jobs and it has caused a new trend to move about campus like wildfire. Suddenly my newsfeed is filled with pictures that I thought were my friends, but the names do not tally, they have been changed. The most common has been changing surname but some people have changed their whole name. All of this to try and avoid potential employers finding something on their Facebook account.

This is a slightly different article than normal, but hopefully it will answer a few questions and examine if changing your name actually works.

Why change your Facebook name?

The whole reasoning behind changing either your whole name or just your surname is so that potential employers when everyone is applying for jobs may not find any incriminating evidence against you that may affect your future job prospects.

It has been known for a number of years that employers and even schools and universities sometimes have a quick search of Google and other sites including Twitter and Facebook in order to make a quick assessment of you as a person. I am necessarily saying this is right in the slightest however what someone sees/finds will likely affect your likelihood of getting a job.

Many people often want to hide photos, messages, statuses from employers as they are embarrassed at what they have done and do not want anything their friends have tagged them in to also be associated with them. Often rather than having a digital cleanse, changing your name is seen as the simpler way out.

Does it work?

I cannot talk from experience, but I can mention a few ideas for you to think about to understand if changing your name is enough and effective enough in hiding you from prying eyes.

Search results are updated very regularly but you are reliant on Google and other search engines crawling through pages and updating their results and listings. When launching a website it can take weeks to get into Google and when you make changes to a website it can take days or weeks for the results to be updated. Therefore you may change your name, but it may not stop links to your Facebook page, pictures in Google images still being visible under your actual name for some time.

Facebook only lets you change your name on Facebook a number of times and you are required to use your full name on the site, not a fake one and would therefore be in breach of their terms and conditions. Therefore you do not want to change your name several times because you cannot decide and then are unable to change it back. Would you really like to be stuck with that name for a number of years?

If you feel that you have to change your name, the likelihood is that the words or photos embarrass you. The best practice is to untag yourself or if you uploaded it delete it. Remember also that if you have a massive social life then remember that a link to your profile could exist anywhere and groups that you are part of on Facebook, pages you like may also display embarrassing photos of you are stories when found and that you have no control over.

If and I would say this is a big IF it works. Then what do you think goes through the prying eye’s brain at the other end when you return no results on Facebook or Google. If you have written that you are outgoing person involved in many things on your CV will it not arouse suspicion if they cannot find anything and make them think that maybe you have something to hide? 

What else can you do?

The best thing to do is remove anything that you would not want anyone else seeing, for example a potential employer or even your parents.

Undertake a review of your privacy settings and ensure that when someone tags you in something you have to accept it first before it appears on your timeline allowing you to control the content your name is associated with.

Create a Linkedin account; encourage employers to look at other platforms where you can showcase your experience and expertise to them on the right platform.

Google your name, your mobile number and your email address and see what results are returned. You may very well be surprised at what information the web has on you.

Points to remember

I cannot say whether changing your name will actually work or not, but hopefully this will make you think if it will actually work effectively as you have been led to believe.

At the end of the day we live in a digital world, everyone uses the Internet and it had become increasingly easy for people to find very detailed information out about you. Do have fun and socialise with your friends but do it safely and look strongly how your account portrays to the rest of the Internet.

  • Facebook only lets you change your name a number of times.
  • Create a LinkedIn Account
  • Review your privacy settings
  • Remove anything that you would not want anyone such as your parents seeing.
  • Search results do not necessarily get updated that quickly.
  • Google yourself see what other information that someone can find out about you.


Image Credit, Facebook Campus – Marcin Wichary 

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