Posted by Brian McCullough
But then we asked her if she had worked on her Facebook profile at all, and she said she hadn’t. In fact, she had put her Facebook profile on public lockdown because she was so fearful of any employer snooping in her personal life.
This reaction made me a bit sad. Sure, we’ve all been inundated with all the scary news storys about people getting fired or professionally embarrassed by things they’ve posted on their Facebook pages. And of course, you should be very careful about what those in your professional life can see from your Facebook life. But Facebook can still be a powerful branding tool. So you shouldn’t run from it: you should make your Facebook into something that can help your job search.
The main reason I say this, is that your employer is going to look anyway. In this day and age do you think anyone gets hired (or lands a date or becomes a tenant) without at least a cursory Google/Facebook search? The employer is going to be looking anyway, so why not give them something good to look at? It’s sort of like, if they’re going to swing by your house, why not pick up a bit first, just for appearances.
Obviously, your first concern is to wade into those Facebook privacy setting and make sure you have your ducks in a row. For all the controversy, Facebook has done a pretty good job of creating a comprehensive system of levers and layers that will help you control what anyone, even perfect strangers, can see of your profile.
So, get in there and muck about with the privacy settings. But set some things up for the random, say, hiring manager to see. And make it google searchable. The most obvious thing to start with is your info page. You know, that’s the page where you can list your schools, hobbies, musical interests, etc. Make sure all this info is up to date. Start adding previous employers and organizations. Join previous employer and organization pages if you can.
Why are you doing this? If for no other reason than it helps corroborate the work history you’re going to present on your resume.
Next, try to make public the list of your professional friends and contacts. This can be a separate “friends list” from your main one, if you know how to do that. This mimics what you can achieve on LinkedIn. You never know if the hiring manager will look and see, “Gee, she knows Bob. I love Bob. Anyone who’s worked under Bob should be a great employee.”
Then, don’t forget about Facebook Pages. Facebook is trying very hard to become a tool that helps businesses and people brand themselves. Businesses like ours have their own Facebook pages to help build trust and community. You can do the same thing for your own personal brand. Go ahead and create a public page for yourself. You can basically literally turn it into an online resume, but a resume that is publicly searchable and backed up by the reputation burnishing of your social network.
I’ve spoken before about how you can use Facebook to help leverage your social network to find a new job.
But the above exercises are separate from that. They are about using Facebook to be your professional public face, not just your social calling card.