With a reported membership of 400 million ACTIVE users, defined by Facebook as “users who returned to the site in the last 30 days,” Facebook is the undisputed king of social networking sites. But for many of my clients, Facebook remains their “social” site and Linked In is their “professional” site. While I understand this attitude, I truly believe job seekers make a mistake NOT by taking advantage of the amazing scope and reach of Facebook as a job search resource.
So – how can Facebook be used in a job search?
Let’s answer that question by starting with another question – what is the single most effective way to find a new job? The answer – networking. I’ve seen lots of numbers tossed around – 80% or 70% – and I truthfully don’t know the exact number. But it’s a lot. A lot more than answer job postings, that much is certain.
So what is the most heavily used networking site on the Internet? Answer Facebook.
From my perspective, 2 + 2 = 4. And in the context of a job search, that means if networking is the most likely path to a new job, and Facebook in the #1 social networking resource ever, Facebook should figure into my job search planning.
1. Get your Facebook account “ready for prime time.”
There are two elements to every Facebook account – what and who. What information and activity will I display on Facebook? Who will I let see the what? One objection I hear when I talk about using Facebook as a job search tool is, “I use this for my family and friends.” Another – “I don’t want people seeing all that “stuff” about me on Facebook.” Well – who do you think controls the what or the stuff that gets on Facebook? You do.
The What – content and postings.
Let me start by saying I’m not advocating that nobody should put up fun vacation pictures or family event photos on Facebook. It is SOCIAL networking, so please be social. That’s the idea, right? So, if you choose to post that nutty picture of yourself shooting tequila at a bar in Panama City with those nice Norwegian sailors – by all means post the photo. But if you choose to post that content, make sure you tighten your privacy settings so only the people you really want seeing that photo can see that photo.
For those of us in job search mode, however, I think some different thinking is usually advisable – that way you don’t have to worry as much about embarrassing or even damaging content derailing your search. In general, I recommend posting only things you are comfortable with 400 million people seeing and reading. That usually means the funny vacation pics don’t get posted for “everyone” to see.
Your profile and personal information are also potential sources for embarrassment. I am not certain letting people see your marital status or that you are interested in relationships is smart for job seekers. So – either delete that information, or make sure your privacy settings protect it. The education and work history ought to track your resume, AND I recommend using very similar language from or for your Linked In profile. You are promoting a professional brand, so use this chance at Facebook to do so.
The who – privacy settings.
Facebook has come under a lot of criticism lately for its new privacy setting controls. Facebook has a built-in bias for disclosure. That’s not good or bad, but it is very important to understand. The privacy settings are complicated. It’s possible there will be MORE changes soon – so stay tuned. That said, you need to work your way through the settings. This morning, I found a great resource to check my own settings – ReclaimPrivacy.org. It allows you to scan your Facebook privacy settings, and make changes based upon your personal preferences for privacy. I had one setting in red – VERY public – that I changed. Otherwise, I was in good shape.
2. Friends – lists.
I have a small but growing network of contacts at Facebook, and they are carefully organized into four lists – business network, social friends, HS friends and interests. You can organize your friends into as many lists as you wish, but I think it’s very important to do so. In general, I recommend two broad types of lists – a list for business contacts (and friends CAN be on more than one list), and your social network, and I even have that group organized into three groups based upon the contact and communications I want with them.
Once you’ve organized your friends, you’re ready to get going.
3. Activity – posts, updates and links.
As you post things or share links, think about WHO you want to see the information. If you find a link (maybe to this post) you think your social network might find interesting, target the post accordingly. When you type in the update box, a menu will open below the space, and you’ll see a little padlock on the right side. This is the security setting for this specific update. You can see that in the screen capture to the right.
By using this setting, you can target specific posts, updates, links or even questions to your network based upon your objective and target for the information.
4. Search and Pages.
Facebook has a very good search feature, and I use this a lot to find people – both in and out of my network – who work at target companies. You can use the advanced search to narrow your results.
When you do a search for a company, you may get a company page. This is a great thing to find. A HUGE number of companies – especially those in retail and the consume products areas, maintain fan pages at Facebook. Explore these pages! If it’s a company you are really targeting, read the “INFO,” see if there are discussions, etc. And then participate. When you DO connect with a person at the company, it’s nice to tell them something you learned about the company from Facebook.
There are 400 million active Facebook users. Do you think one or two of them might be able to help you? I do. This is NOT a comprehensive guide to using Facebook in a Job Search , but I hope it will help get you started.