To hear most career experts and job-seeker advice sites tell it, Facebook is a big no-no for those looking for employment. In fact, most job advice articles boil down their social media wisdom to this simple piece of guidance: Don’t do it — and if you must do it, make sure your profile is kept private! Having your social media accounts open for the whole world to see means that, sooner or later, a hiring manager or recruiter is going to stumble upon them — and that could prove disastrous!
True enough: It could prove disastrous — but it doesn’t have to. The conventional wisdom is that, because it is so easy to misuse, Facebook only hinders and never helps job seekers. As such, we have all heard, time and time again, the lists of things never to post on Facebook — profane language, drunk photos, and so on.
With that said, job seekers can stand out from the pack by viewing Facebook not as a trap, but an opportunity — a chance to show off their strengths and to reveal what it is they can offer to a company, in a more dynamic way than a traditional CV could ever allow.
Let Them Know You’re Looking
One thing to remember, right off the bat, is that Facebook actually is used for networking purposes — as silly as that might sound, in the Age of LinkedIn. As such, those who do not currently have work are encouraged to use Facebook to tell the world. Make it plain, on your Facebook profile that you are looking for employment. Recruiters and hiring managers may stumble across your page — perhaps via some of the professional associations or academic groups to which your Facebook profile is connected — and it can only help your prospects to make it evident that you are in the market for work.
Facebook vs. LinkedIn
Another thing to make sure to include on your Facebook page: A link to your resume. We already mentioned LinkedIn, and there will surely be some who say that including a resume on Facebook is pointless, because, of course, that is what LinkedIn is for. There is no reason why your Facebook page should not include a link to your LinkedIn resume, however. If nothing else, it makes it obvious that you are serious about your career.
Still another way to use Facebook to your advantage is to highlight your professional interests. How? By connecting with any professional organizations to which you may belong, or even organizations that you have a particular interest in. For example, if you are a professional marine surveyor, liking the Facebook page for the Association of Accredited Marine Surveyors can only cause you to shine in the eyes of recruiters and hiring managers.
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Another Side of Yourself
It is also worth considering that there are things you can say about yourself on Facebook that you really ought not to say on your resume, and that you really cannot say on a site like LinkedIn. On your resume, you need to keep things focused on your career experience and professional interests. On Facebook, though, you can show another side of yourself, and ultimately come across as a more dynamic candidate.
This might include your hobbies and family interests. We do not need to reiterate the importance of keeping slovenly drunk photos and other dubious exploits off of your profile, but pictures of family hiking trips or vacations with your spouse can be helpful. If you are an avid reader, you can connect your Facebook account to your Goodreads page. If you love to bake, you can show off photos of favorite dishes. In short, you can show how well-rounded and versatile you are in ways that simply are not appropriate for traditional resumes.
And you should absolutely include links to charitable organizations and non-profits that you support. This can go a long way toward establishing your character, and it is especially helpful when an employer is particularly socially-aware. Just make sure not to “like” the pages of hot-button political groups; you may feel a certain way about marriage equality or marijuana legalization, for instance, but there is no way to know whether those views will help or hurt you with a particular employer — so it is best to omit them from public view altogether.
Social Media and Candidate Appeal
The moral of the story: Employers are coming more and more to use Facebook and other social networks as resources for weeding out red flag job applicants. You might simply minimize the threat of being lumped in with the red flags, and stay off of Facebook altogether. Even more prudent, however, is using Facebook to cast yourself as a truly desirable job candidate.
Mike Zammuto became President and COO of www.reputationchanger.com in the fall of 2012. The company offers services for online reputation repair as well as a variety of additional reputation management services.
A resume that’s sitting on my web page, and a fairly complete LinkedIn profile it means that messages from recruiters are constantly flooding my mailbox.