Facebook: Friend or Foe?

Stemming from your encouragement, I entered this post in the Job Search Blogger Contest, hosted by Jessica Miller-Merrill (@blogging4jobs).  Thanks to your overwhelming support and the relevance of the article, I WON!!  Full results can be found here.  I was a featured guest (6/12/10) on the  Job Search Secrets Webshow. Thanks again for all your support – I truly couldn’t have done it without YOU!

Are you on Facebook?  Originally launched in 2004, Facebook has made its way from a “Hot or Not” platform (see Wikipedia’s profile) to a social media giant today.  Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.

Millions of people (over 300 million) use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.

Your friends are here.  Your family is here (I’m connected with everyone from high school classmates to cousins to grandma).  And guess what?  Employers are here now, too.  Did that give you a sick feeling in your stomach?  What if your boss knew what was posted on Facebook?  Would it matter?  These are all questions that I hear everyday.  The one thing that I would like everyone to know is: NOTHING is private on the web.  NOTHING.  It doesn’t matter if your status is set to “private” or if you’ve locked out certain people.  If a person is resourceful enough, they can find it. 

So with that in mind, here are a few tips to help make Facebook your friend rather than your foe:

Keep it clean.  We all have fun.  Some of us have even documented that fun (legal or not) with pictures.  You just don’t have to post it on Facebook.  Keep the pictures if you need to reminisce about the good ‘ol days.  But, would you want mom, grandma, church pastor, or your boss seeing your beer-bong contest pictures?  Probably not.

Be authentic.  Your personal brand is something that can really shine through in social media.  Be consistent and authentic.  Your true personality will come out after a little time.  There’s no sense in hiding it.  Use it to your advantage.

Connect and reconnect.  Facebook is a great place to learn more about the people you know or even people you want to know.  While LinkedIn is still utilized for more professional use, Facebook provides a personal side to the equation.  There are recruiters on Facebook – I would caution you to keep interactions professional, even on a platform such as this.  They could care less about your Farmville, Mafia Wars, or Sorority Life gaming online. 

Like it.  What was recently known as “become a fan” has changed to provide a more open forum of interaction.  You can now “like” something on Facebook.  This goes for all sorts of things from a certain company (great way to learn about culture, even jobs) to trivial things such as Mexican food or sandwiches.  As Joey Tribbiani said on Friends, “who doesn’t like sandwiches?” 🙂 

Integrate with other platforms.  If you’re a Twitter user (see earlier post: Tackling Twitter), you can now update your status there at the same time as your Facebook status.  If you’re a jobseeker, use this opportunity to update regularly with things that you’re working on, types of jobs you’re seeking, and snippets of the experience you bring to the table.  You never know who will be looking!

Facebook can be a great platform for personal branding, reconnecting with friends and family and prove to be a positive resource for jobseekers.  Just remember to be yourself, keep it clean, and have a little fun.  Make Facebook work for you, not against you.

As always, thanks for reading, commenting and sharing your insight with me.  You can subscribe to Campus to Career by clicking the button at the top right-hand corner.  If you prefer RSS, that link is below.  Additionally, I would invite you to connect with me and Campus to Career on Twitter and Facebook.  Check out the “Let’s Connect” tab at the top.

Disclaimer: I don’t claim to be an expert on social media.  Just like most of you, I’m simply interested in this topic and wish to share my experiences with others who could benefit from the knowledge passed on.  That being said, if you have a question, ask.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll do my best to get it for you!  I would value connecting with each and every one of you that requests adding me to your network.

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21 thoughts on “Facebook: Friend or Foe?

  1. When it comes to FB, I don’t want anyone poking around on my wall that isn’t a close friend or family. No employers. No co-workers. What is the That is what LinkedIn is for. There has to be a line drawn between your personal and professional life. What is the point of privacy settings if they don’t work. It’s not that I have drunk pictures or anything on my FB that I wouldn’t want the world to see, but I don’t want to share it. I don’t think it’s any employer’s business who my friends or family are. And I don’t think they have any business knowing that (benign) activities I participate in while I am not toiling away for them.

    1. Interesting point of view. Thanks for sharing. Whether we like it or not, recruiters are already (CareerBuilder did a recent study that showed over 40% viewed social media profiles of candidates) doing this.

      Does anyone else agree with this individual? It’s an open forum – feel free to share your opinions.

      PS. It helps when you have an actual email address (Username: stayoutofmybidness, email: querty@aol.com doesn’t hold a lot of credibility. We’re just trying to help those out there that are seeking employment. All posts are a matter of opinion, based on interactions with recruiters and HR across industries throughout the world.

      1. I agree with stayoutofmybidness. I know that potential employers search on your FB and other sites before hiring you, but I keep my FB private and try to only keep clean things on it for that reason. I do not go adding just anyone to FB because I do not think the whole world needs to know every little thing about me and see all my pictures. If they need to know everything I am up to that is what my Twitter is for. 😉

      2. Nice rebuttal, Kim. Thanks for your comments. It’s always a good idea to screen out who you want to view your information on Facebook. That’s what the privacy filters (limited profile) are for. Sounds like you’re using it well.

        As always, thanks for reading and participating!

        Kirk

  2. Yes-Employers look at your FB profile; but if they can see your wall you should bolt it down w settings and leverage the security features. And dont instantly friend your new co-workers. Trust me on that one…

    1. Great advice, Rob. Thank you! The friending co-workers topic can certainly get a little sticky – I’ve seen it several times. I appreciate you sharing your insight.

  3. Great post! I’ve been on FB since the early days, on and off due to the very issue of “privacy” – I’m on for good now with friends lists in a filter setting: some can see nothing but selected wall posts, some can see a partial profile, and the “trusted” ones can see everything. Even then, I treat FB like a boss/grandma/easily offended potential employer could see it.

    I agree on not instantly friending co-workers or new acquaintances; but I’m not shy about de-friending people or putting them on my “limited view” friend list. I’ve found that some people only want access to your profile for gossip fodder.

  4. Great post. For me its important to have fun and a great time at work. Otherwise I am unable to perform my best. Sharing Ideas, communicating continuously almost about work and freetime is realy easy in FB. Most of my favorite colleagues are connected with me on the Net. Privacy and work comes closer and I like this. More opportunitiess than disadvantages IMHO. There might be some changes coming in the future. No more borders between work and private should be the approach for gen y…

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