Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is Your Facebook Profile Stopping You From Getting A Job?

Who isn't on Facebook these days? The once student only website has become a mega sensation in the past couple of years, but it doesn't mean you should post anything and everything to it. This month's question for Seymour on the Spherion Career Blog has everything to do with Facebook and how it might stop you from getting a job.

Q: Dear Seymour, Could my Facebook Page be Keeping me From Landing a Job?

His response is...

A: Facebook started in 2004 as a pet project of then Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg. It was originally designed for students, but in no time it exploded into an international social networking phenomenon that included everyone and excluded no one. Though it was once a forum for students to chat and post photos, now Facebook is for anyone and everyone--including potential employers - which means if you're serious about your career, there are rules to follow.

Is this professional?
Before you post anything to Facebook, ask yourself: Is this professional? If you knew a boss or a potential boss would see it, how would you feel? What might they assume about you? Social networking is about being friends with people, but now that business and career networking has become part of it as well, it's important to mind your p's and q's. If you wouldn't do it or say it in an office, don't put it on Facebook.

Consider creating a career-only profile.
It's a great idea to make a profile that is only for business and networking. You can easily create a separate e-mail address to help you manage this, and it will eliminate the question of whether it's okay to post something on Facebook. Make this profile only about your work and your career goals. Post a professional photo if you choose to post a photo at all, and make your updates about industry news. If you have a career blog, link to it there. This is also a great idea for friending people you work with--office rumors can spread quickly, so only having work friends on your business profile will protect you. This will allow you more freedom on your personal site.

Manage your friends and your privacy.
Many people have hundreds, even thousands of Facebook friends. It's smart to create lists to help you manage your friend list and also to regulate the privacy settings of each group. You may have one group for closest friends, one group for family, and one for career networking. Privacy settings are so sophisticated now that you can manage who sees what, so it's easy to still post your beach vacation photos but only make them visible to your social friend group. Think about what is appropriate on your profile for friends and what is appropriate for business and use the privacy accordingly.

You never know who is watching.
This is true in life, and it's also true on Facebook. Even if you think your privacy settings are set, even if you think you are unsearchable, you never know how word could get out about something you said or did. Maybe one of your friends ends up knowing your next hiring manager even if you are unaware of the connection. Most hiring managers are eager for information about candidates, and while using a friend to view other's profiles may not be completely ethical, it's wise to expect the unexpected.

So with that said, just be careful what you promote on your social networking sites and make sure that you would be able to show them to anyone including potential employers. In closing, has anyone ever been denied employment for having something on their Facebook page? Please leave you comments in the section below.

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