As social media popularity continues to increase, more and more hiring managers and employers are using it to vet prospective job candidates. A little over a year ago, it was estimated that roughly 30% of recruiters and hiring managers use social media to screen job applicants. Anecdotal evidence suggests that today, this percentage may have swelled to as much as 70 percent!
Although LinkedIn is growing in popularity, Facebook is still, by far, the largest online social networking site. Unlike LinkedIn, which is billed as a “professional networking site,” Facebook remains a social networking site that is primarily used for recreational purposes or to stay in touch with family and friends. However, because of its gigantic size companies are increasingly relying on Facebook for promotional purposes and to recruit new employees.
Until recently, many persons with Facebook accounts paid little attention to the content that they posted to their profile pages. Unlike print and other traditional broadcast mediums, once something is posted to Facebook it is “in the ether” and it is exceedingly difficult to expunge or remove it. Consequently, an inappropriate image or damaging statement posted to a Facebook page will likely remain on the Internet into perpetuity— whether you want it to or not. And, in today’s fiercely competitive job market, employers are looking for any reason whatsoever not to hire a prospective new employee. Therefore, it is vitally important to understand the “dos” and “don’ts” of Facebook and other social networking sites to insure that their use does not interfere with or hinder a job candidate’s employability or future career development.
About a year, Erin Joyce of Yahoo Finance published a post about the impact of inappropriate Facebook use on career development. I have attempted to summarize her insights and tips in this post. To that end, this is what you SHOULD NOT do on Facebook
1. Post Inappropriate Pictures, Photos or Images
It is probably not a good idea for prospective employers or clients to see photos of you chugging a bottle of Jagermeister and obviously “hammered” or dressed up for a night out at a bar or club.
While you may think that your personal life is private, prospective employers may think otherwise especially if you voluntarily posted compromising or inappropriate photos of yourself to your Facebook page and they can find them via Google search. A willingness to post these types of images suggests that you may lack good judgment and not appropriately represent an organization or yourself in professional settings.
2. Complain About Your Current Boss or Job
Everyone complains about their job. However, it is one thing to verbally and privately rant and complain about your incompetent boss or lazy coworker but another to post it to a public forum for all to see! Posting these things to your Facebook page may help to reduce stress and make you feel better but it is probably not the wisest thing to do if you know your boss and co-workers have Facebook accounts or regularly chat with others who do.
3. Post Conflicting Professional Information
If your CV/resume indicates that you received your PhD degree from SUNY-Stonybrook but your Facebook page indicates that you matriculated from Columbia then at worst prospective employers may think that you are a liar or at best careless. Neither is good for jobseeker and discrepancies like these are sure to get your name off the short list for face-to-face job interviews.
4. Update Your Status with Ill-Advised Updates
If you are at work, it is probably not a good thing to update your Facebook status with “watching the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game. Likewise, if you are employed it is not a good idea to update your status with “got hammered last night and decided to stay home form work today.” Statuses that imply that you are unreliable, deceitful, and anything that doesn’t make you look as professional as you’d like, can seriously undermine your chances at keeping or landing a new job.
5. Allow Friends to Post to Your Wall or Tag You in Photos
Erin was dead on with this one. She said:
“You can’t control what your friends post to your profile (although you can remove it once you see it), nor what they post to their own profiles or to those of mutual friends. If a potential client or employer sees those Friday night pictures your friend has tagged you in where he is falling down drunk, it reflects poorly on you, even if the picture of you is completely innocent. It’s unfortunate, but we do judge others by the company they keep, at least to some extent. Take a look at everything connected to your profile, and keep an eye out for anything you wouldn’t want to show your mother.”
While Facebook can hinder or hurt employment opportunities, if you used correctly it can also help a jobseeker get hired. Therefore, if you are a jobseeker and already have a personal Facebook page, it is probably a good idea to set that page to private and only permit friends that you approve to view it. Once you have done this, create a second public profile for professional uses only. This page will function like an online resume and should only be populated with information that you would be comfortable showing or telling a prospective employer in face-to-face situations.
Like it or not, social media is here to stay and avoiding its use may signal to prospective employers that you are not technologically savvy or not particularly social: two vitally-important skill sets required by most employers.
For more ways to use Facebook as a job hunting tool check out this post!
Until next time…
Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!