For many, Facebook is a social Mecca. It’s a fun, easy way to share photos, news, party invitations and birthday greetings. And it certainly has no place in a professional job search, right? Yet with the job market tight, job seekers can’t afford to ignore the world’s most trafficked website as a road to a new job.
First, a critical decision: Personal? Professional? Both?
Before using Facebook in a job search, you need to develop a point of view about how you view Facebook. Is your page strictly social and personal, fit for the professional world, or both? There are pros and cons to each approach, but it’s critical you be clear about the purpose of your Facebook presence and how it may or may not intersect with your job search.
Keeping it Personal
If you decide your Facebook page is going to be purely social, you must make sure no potential employer ever has access to it. Dig deep in the privacy settings to make sure no one other than your friends can see what’s on your Facebook. Facebook is known for having comprehensive, but complex privacy setting features.
One possible issue with deciding your Facebook page is strictly personal is that there could be someone amongst your Facebook friends who is a potential employer. Can you be absolutely sure that there is no one in your Facebook circle that might become a professional connection as well? Remember, although you control your own page, but you don’t control how other people tag you photos and what they post on your wall. Keeping it completely personal is hard to do!
Increasingly, job seekers are making their Facebook page completely professional and using it as a tool in their job search. To do so, they are sacrificing social updates, the sharing of personal information and much of the social connection offered by Facebook. The trade off is the creation of a new avenue for job seeking. If you decide to go this way:
- Clean up your profile. Strip it of all irrelevant and personal information including dates that give away your age, family status and more.
- Get rid of all personal pictures
- Make your profile picture professional
- Bring out your brand via your Facebook page
- Use your page to update your network on your job search, convey your brand, and share your professional expertise
- Take a look at everything you have fanned, everyone you have friended, everything you have “liked” and ask yourself how a potential employer will view these choices
- Fan professional sites and industry leaders
- Interact with professionals via your now-professional Facebook page
- Stop interacting with your family and friends with personal content (photos and comments).
In summary, convert your Facebook page to a professional online profile, much as you have done with your LinkedIn profile.
Can you do both?
Is there a way to create a Facebook page that is both personal and professional? The answer is probably, but it’s going to be difficult and takes a lot of effort. You need to be on constant alert for personal and private information that could harm your job search.
An alternate solution is to have two separate Facebook pages, one personal and the other purely professional. The easiest way to do this is to use a variation on your name such as including your middle name or your middle initial, and use a different email address from your personal Facebook page. Follow all the steps to making your personal page private as you develop your new public, and professional page.
To establish a professional Facebook page, follow the same steps you would use to clean up your personal page (see above) or create a professional profile on LinkedIn. Use your professional Facebook page to convey your brand, your value in the marketplace and your expertise. Use it to share information and inspiration, to connect with others in your field and to broaden your professional network. Save the photos from last Saturday night’s party for your personal Facebook page!
What is working for you? Tell us if you are treating your Facebook page as personal, professional or both.