I’ve been wanting to write about Facebook and the job search for a while now, but I wanted to take an angle that wasn’t completely about my personal experience and wasn’t just rehashing the issues other people have so eloquently written about.  Here’s a quick recap of what other bloggers and reporters have said:

This is all great stuff, and I wanted to jump a little further into the topic and ask the numero uno question at stake.

facebook-wall

The article “Employers: Get Outta my Facebook” in Business Week takes that first point to task and dissects the pros and cons of the topic.  Is it an invasion of privacy when companies look at Facebook?  The one side says that Facebook isn’t private.  Even if you say that what you do in your personal life is your personal business, it becomes public business when you post on Facebook.  Therefore, it’s fair game for HR. The opposing viewpoint suggests that Facebook profiles aren’t resumes, and that what people do in their personal time is irrelevant for most jobs.

I think the struggle for college kids is that when a lot of us started Facebook it was something just for students.  We posted whatever we wanted and didn’t imagine there would be future implications with the job process.  The grown-ups weren’t on there yet.  For some, it was like a digital bookmark for college debauchery.

Now your dad has Facebook.  Your professors have Facebook.  Your prospective employer has Facebook.  A transition needs to take place.

De-tag all you want, but know that somewhere out there in the infinite “social utility” abyss are those pictures from that night.

The topic of privacy and Facebook is an interesting one.  If your profile is public, then what you post there is well, public.  I would argue that if your profile is public and you list your company on your profile, then the personal stuff you post there is relevant to your job.  Say you have a bunch of pictures tagged of you at a strip club – then have it listed that you are an Account Executive at (insert your favorite PR agency here) on the work section of your profile.  In that case, you are representing the company in a public environment.  If you are looking for a job, a hiring manager may be valid in wondering: If this is how she represents her current employer, how will she represent us?

So put your profile to private, list your company, and keep whatever information you want on there because it’s your private space for you and your friends to connect.  The current limit for Facebook friends is 5,000.  Sure, it’s just between you and your friends – but you and your 5,000 friends?  At which point is your personal network large enough to be considered public?

With so much talk about the negative implications of Facebook, I feel us getting paranoid.  I see people listing only their first and middle names on their profiles so that possible employers can’t search for them.  I see people creating separate accounts for their personal and professional lives.  People leave all the information blank on their profiles because they don’t want to express an opinion that might not line up with the viewpoint of a prospective employer.  We’re having an identity crisis.  Who is the professional, public me?  Who is the personal, private me?  Who is my Facebook, and should that be public or private?

facebook-screenshot-privacy

We forget that Facebook is there for us to connect with friends new and old.  We can’t connect with each other if we don’t share anything about ourselves. You should be proud of who you’ve become and share that with your Facebook friends.  You probably have cool hobbies, great friends, a nice family, a cool job, ect.  Share it!  Social media didn’t get to be this huge because everybody put the proverbial whitewash on all their accounts.  It’s because people talked about stuff and posted photos of stuff and poked each other that these websites grew and grew and grew.  I say let’s be smart about what we share and we can all have fun with Facebook again and stop worrying about what someone we haven’t even met yet is going to think of us or how the new layout looks like Twitter.

There is a difference between sharing and over-sharing.  Sharing is a picture of you sitting at a bar with a drink in your hand. Over-sharing is a picture of you blacked-out and slumped over a toilet.

The answer to the numero uno question at stake: Regardless of whether hiring managers should look at your Facebook – they do. It’s better to disagree with it if you do and keep your profile private and your postings within reason than to stubbornly hold on to the albums of your drunken escapades and lose out on a job because of it.  Be pro-active about maintaining your profile.  I’m no Facebook expert, just a job-seeker who feels like she found the right blend of personality/”wouldn’t panic if a future employer saw this” in my own profile.  Here’s my take:

  • Use friends lists. Facebook lets you customize which friends get to see which content with friends lists.  Check under the Friends tab.
  • Post your own pictures.  If you are always relying on your friends to tag you in things, you are playing defense because you have to de-tag yourself  from anything you don’t want on your profile – like fat pictures.
  • Be who you are, just be smart about presenting it.
  • Take the driver’s seat with your online reputation.

It was a long one!  I hope this sparks some conversation.  The comments are yours.  As always, feel free to disagree (or agree) and thank you for reading.

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3 Comments on The Facebook Follies

  1. matt
    March 31, 2009 at 1:19 am (8 years ago)

    This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

    Reply
  2. Jim
    April 2, 2009 at 3:14 pm (8 years ago)

    I agree with everything you say on here. The one thing I didnt see you address though is the importance of Facebook to the employer. I have heard a lot that if you don’t have a facebook your potential employer is going to think that their is something wrong with you, especially if you are a college grad. I have a facebook, I rarely ever go on it, but I have it because I know they are looking. It is important for any career to show you have some people skills and Facebook is a way for them to check up on that. If you have friends, and if their is some sort of social life. They want to research you like you research them. Now that it is possible to dig deep into someones life based on the internet, they want to make sure that your a good fit for them, and they can’t tell that from an interview.

    The other thing I have strong feelings about is not having a private profile. That simple tells that potential employer, hey I have stuff on here that I do not want you to see. Even if that picture is just of you drinking in your dorm room with your friends, imagine what they can think it is if you wanted it hidden so badly. People’s minds always go to the worse possible situation and by looking them out from your public profile, lets them think that you have something to hide.

    Reply
  3. fisherjanet
    April 3, 2009 at 4:05 pm (8 years ago)

    I’ve thought about that aspect of it. Like, is your profile only private because you have something to hide? It’s a tough call. Personally, I’d RATHER have the kid who shows he/she has a social life/skills. If I have to spend 60 hours a week with someone, I want them to crack the occasional joke. It’s PR, not prison. But obviously, the person’s ability to the job well is most important. Thanks for the comment, buddy!

    Reply

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