When it comes to Facebook, most career advice sites are unanimous: The best practice, they say, is to avoid using the social network at all, or at the very least to keep your profile private. It is not difficult to understand how this conventional wisdom came to be. After all, we have all heard the horror stories of individuals who post drunk, slovenly photos of themselves to Facebook, only to realize that — shockingly! — this does not endear them to recruiters or hiring managers. The long and short of it is that unwise social media use can cost you your career prospects, which is why many career advisors say it is better to steer clear, or else to make sure potential employers do not have access to your private Facebook account.
This advice is not necessarily wrong, but it does offer a narrow view of online reputation, and a diminished understanding of just how powerful it can be. It may be true that a bad online reputation can hurt your career prospects, and that unwise social networking can prove disastrous. The inverse is also true, however. A positive online image can enhance your career prospects, and sound social media use can help to cast yourself as a more appealing figure among recruiters.
The bottom line: Recruiters and hiring managers are often inundated with resumes and applications, and as such they turn to social networks to help them weed out “red flag” candidates. By keeping your profile private, you can neutralize the threat of those red flags (the slovenly photos, and so on). By keeping it public and using it to enhance your appeal among recruiters, however, you can cast yourself as a truly standout choice for the job!
Using Facebook to Boost Your Online Image
Still, the question remains: How can Facebook be used to advance your career prospects? We all know what not to post, but what should we post to our Facebook pages? There are several considerations to make here:
- The first one is obvious. You should make sure that, somewhere on your Facebook page, there is a link to your resume. You can do this by including a simple link to your LinkedIn profile. Some will question this, asking if it is really necessary; after all, can a recruiter not simply look to your LinkedIn page? Sure — but the simple act of putting that link on your Facebook account shows that you are serious about your career, and zealous to seize whatever opportunities you can.
- On a related note, there is not necessarily any harm in letting potential employers know that you are, in fact, interested in finding work. This is not recommended for those who are currently employed, and do not wish for their employers to know they are looking elsewhere! For others, however, making it clear that you are in the market for a new job can only help your chances of using Facebook to effectively network.
- You can also use Facebook to showcase your professional interests, in a way that a resume or a CV will not allow. For instance: Are you a member of any industry organizations or professional associations? If so, seek them out on Facebook, and make sure to “like” their pages. Again, this serves to showcase how serious you are about what you do, for the benefit of potential employers!
- In a similar way, you can use Facebook to show off your personal side, in a way that would simply not be appropriate on your resume. When going through a stack of resumes, hiring managers do not want particularly care about your hobbies or your family interests; that is not what a resume is for, and it is frankly irrelevant to whether you are qualified for a particular job. However, by using Facebook to talk about a few of your hobbies, you can show how a different side of yourself, and perhaps “come alive” for recruiters and hiring managers!
- One more thing you might think about including on your Facebook page: Information about non-profits and charities that you support. This goes a long way toward showing off how conscientious you are, which goes over big with companies that take social responsibility seriously. You can accomplish this by “liking” the pages of your favorite non-profit groups. Generally speaking, you should avoid overtly political or potentially controversial organizations; and, you should always avoid open bragging about your charitable giving. Liking the appropriate pages is enough!
Online Reputation, Facebook, and You
These days, everyone has an online reputation — so why not make an effort to make sure yours is positive? It all starts by cultivating a strong and positive social media presence. By being shrewd about it, you can ensure that your Facebook profile is actually helping you land job interviews and impress employers.
Author: Mike Zammuto is the COO of www.reputationchanger.com.