networkFBObviously I am not the first to weigh in on the pros and cons of using social networking sites like Facebook ®, etc. I was actually late to the party getting on FB because I thought it was more for the much younger crowd, but it has become quite a useful tool for me to re-connect with people and also to get the word out about my business and blog and has yielded rewards.

I am much less an "open networker" on FB than on LinkedIN®, since LI is strictly business focused. I don't accept friend requests from I people I don't really know. I keep my info fairly private. Even though I try to be as private as possible on personal info, I still need to be cautious as to the content that I have up on FB. I still treat it like a business site, but with more of the "after work at the bar with co-workers" flavor. I proudly post about family and the stuff going on personally.

I don't need to go into too much detail on why you need to be careful as to what you post about yourself and what your friends post about you. Just know that even if you keep your profile exclusive to just friends, prospective employers who are good at finding info on FB will be able to find an avenue to get to that information.

My best advice is not to post any photos that could call your character into question. The picture of you doing keg stands from a party back in college is an example. Although most employers understand that everyone had their indiscretions during college, unless it is clearly obvious there is some time between now and when the incriminating picture was taken, err on the side of caution. This is not going to solve the problem completely. Most of you know that friends who have pictures on their site that you are in can "tag" you within the pictures. Simply meaning they can indicate within the picture caption and by mousing over your face in the picture your complicity in bad behavior. In your settings you can control this to ensure that you are if you are tagged in someone else's FB site, you can remove it.

Other things to keep in mind if you choose to be more public about your FB profile and are job searching:
  • Try to be as apolitical as possible - if you have causes that are near and dear to your heart, that is fine but if there are things that would paint a picture of you being particularly hardcore in any political direction you may want to think twice about being so open. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but that also includes the people who may be hiring you for a job so remember that while they can't explicitly say they don't want you because of your political views, it still may happen
  • Try to optimistically flavor your FB postings. If you are currently employed, don't use it as a profane soapbox about your current boss or company. Focus on the good things in life and your ambitious, upstanding character who has an incredible work ethic
  • Don't be afraid to put it out there that you are looking for a new career (unless you are currently working and this could jeopardize things in your current job of course.) Be specific on what you are looking to do. Try to briefly underscore the skills you have. Often times, friends and friends of friends may see this and think of you for an opportunity in a particular job or industry you never thought of, but you may be very qualified for and could be a job you end up loving
  • If you have a blog about something in which you are a subject matter expert, make sure you push the posts to your FB page
  • Have a handy link in your profile to your resume
  • Network, Network, Network. See who your friend's friends are and if you see someone who you know works at a company you are interested in, ask them for an introduction
  • See if there are any groups out there that would benefit your search (people who do the same job or worked for the same company as you) You can find members there to network with
There is so much more information out there. Here is a link to an article from Slate that I found pretty comprehensive.

Next post we will talk about the top 5 "social business networks" you should be on that you probably never heard of.

Bill Meirs is the Managing Principal with the Church & Palfrey Group, a search firm specializing in Technology and Sales Searches. Bill has 11+ years experience in corporate and agency environments. He frequently consults companies and individuals in the areas of talent acquisition, recruitment process improvement, recruitment advertising and branding, resume writing, and salary negotiation.

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