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Social Media and OPSEC

Posted by Patra Frame

social mediaYou get a friend request on Facebook or a connection request on LinkedIn, maybe you recognize the name or perhaps not. But you accept – after all you are trying to build your network. For the next job search, for your transition from the military or federal service to the private sector, or for your career in general.

The USAF Chief of Staff sent me a connection request. Well, of course, I thought – I do a lot of work with veterans, perhaps he’s heard of me. And it was the right person in the picture. But I was still more than a bit suspicious – why would he be doing this without some personalization in the request? The LinkedIn summary made me even more suspicious – no senior officer would have such mistakes. But, yes, he had a lot of connections already.  I figured out how to report it to LinkedIn and it disappeared quickly from the site.

This issue of fake profiles on social media is widespread. Many of us get such requests on a very regular basis. I remember when many were scams and pretty easy to recognize – the pictures were all lovely young women or muscular men and the rest was nearly blank. Now there is evidence that Russian, Chinese, and North Korean intelligence are targeting people. You may be targeted because you have a clearance shown or some potential knowledge or for no obvious reason.

Never accept a friend or connection request unless the person is someone you actually know or their online presence and the request demonstrates reasons for you to connect.

You should be careful on other social media platforms as well. Are the people you follow on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and others actually people or are they bots or fake profiles? Some basics are to look at the information provided – the less there is, the more suspicious you should be. While the old guidance to ignore those without pictures on many sites is too simple, it can still be a clue. If you are interested but uncertain and there is a picture, you can do an image search using the picture shown to see if it matches what you are being told.

Maybe you have had a local briefing on security issues with social media from your commander, company or program manager. But there is no national level guidance I can refer you to on how you should use social media for your career.

How can you use social media to help your career and job search without problems?

First, consider the work you currently do and any written guidance you have gotten. Then think about the work you are seeking. What makes sense to share publicly?

Second, most hiring managers expect to see some social media presence unless you’re in the Intel Community. Recruiters do too. Yet saying the wrong thing on social media will make both recruiters and companies question your competence.

Basic social media tips:

  • Don’t put your security clearance on your profile. That is becoming quite common on LinkedIn. But it’s not necessary or smart. Many hiring managers with military or agency experience see that as wrong and worry about your OPSEC understanding, so you are ruled out of consideration for hiring.
  • Skipping showing your security clearance on social media will not hinder those companies and hiring managers from understanding that you have a certain level clearance based on the employers, work titles and achievements you show.
  • Do show the work you have had by standard private sector titles – ‘Team Lead, X’, ‘Software Developer’, ‘Intel Analyst’ or ‘IT Supervisor’ with each job’s federal/military/company name and dates. Many company, program, and military titles are confusing to other organizations, so translating yours into the more commonly used titles helps potential employers understand your role and your progression in your career. You do not need to put in locations.
  • Where there is an unclassified code name for a project, you can use that.
  • Your summary and achievements need to be clear without providing any material which could be compromising. This means you should focus on the basics of what you did – coding, managing, analyzing, writing, creating, organizing, implementing, administering, budgeting, and so on. With results shown whenever possible. (For more resume help, see our past articles on resumes.

On the other hand, you absolutely should include your security clearance in its simplest form (TS/SCI for example) on your resume when applying to a cleared facilities employer or when uploading your resume to a site like ClearedJobs.Net, which is closed to all but cleared facilities employers. Put your clearance near the top of your resume. If you’re applying for a job with a non-cleared facilities employer, you should leave your security clearance off your resume.

Only you can decide what you want to do on social media. It can be a very useful part of your career – providing information and connections to help you succeed. But never take it for granted and just run on automatic. Make conscious decisions about what is smart for your career, your future, and your safety.

Patra FramePatra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Management Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 12, 2018 3:07 pm

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