In just a decade, Facebook has changed the world and transformed our lives. It has changed how we live, how we socialize, how we communicate, and our ability to brand ourselves. Today, Facebook is on the brink of having 2 billion users worldwide. It should then come as no surprise that it is also an important element in job searching. Not only can it be used for networking and communications, it is also important to understand that posting the wrong thing or with the wrong privacy settings can haunt you. However, there are strategies and ways to utilize Facebook to your advantage. Below are some tips and considerations.
1. Be Mindful of your Audience
In general, your Facebook “friends” should be people you know and have met. They might be friends, family, co-workers, or acquaintances. There are some exceptions to this, as with anything. For instance, an Artist might wish to add people who support or appreciate their artwork, even if they have not met them. However, it is important to remember that Profiles are for individuals and Pages are for brands, public figures, organizations, and businesses.
When adding people to your friends list, you can also assign them to various groups that contain their own privacy settings - example: “close friends” or “acquaintances” (acquaintances are still on your friends list, but they can only see your public posts). The key is to keep in mind your audience when posting and when considering privacy setting options.
2. Understand your Privacy Settings
There are several areas under your Privacy Settings that give you control over who can and cannot see various posts on your Facebook. First, select the default post privacy setting that you want to use. Here, “friends” is the recommended setting. Remember, you can always change your audience for each individual post. There are also setting choices on who can contact you and who can search for you.
When creating a new post, you have control over the audience each time - public, friends, all friends except particular people, sharing only with specific people, or, completely private for your eyes only. Privacy settings are a personal decision; be mindful of them, the choices available, and the potential consequences when adding friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances.
3. Know your Personal Brand
Branding in business is a huge factor in overall success or failure - personal branding is no different. Facebook is a wonderful branding platform to help put your image out there to the masses and to future potential opportunities.
We won’t get into the details of personal branding here, as it is another subject on its own. But the key for job search purposes is to give thought to the image you want portray and give potential employers and what you want them to think about you if they search for you online.
4. Bringing it All Together - And Here’s an Example!
Here’s an example of how to bring these elements together to create a strategy when looking for a job.
Let’s pretend for a moment that I am looking for a job as a graphic designer, or [insert other job here]. Perhaps I am currently unemployed and am seeking a graphic design job, or perhaps I am working in a different industry and am changing careers. The strategy remains the same.
- First, I would review my privacy settings and clean up any public posts. If I have a lot of public posts that could be potentially harmful if seen by a possible future employer, or that contradict the brand image I want to portray, there is a setting to instantly convert all “public” posts to “friends” only.
- Next, I would look at my friends list and determine who might be able to help me in my job search. I would then reach out to these friends and let them know I am looking for a job in graphic design.
Note: Don’t be too quick to disqualify someone. You never know who your friends know. Just because they might not be familiar with the industry doesn’t mean they don’t know someone who is. Perhaps their best friend’s sister’s husband is CEO at a company in your industry, for example. Networking is everything!
Now comes branding and strategy. Knowing that most potential employers will search for you on Facebook, and what they see very well may influence their decision to interview or hire, I will use this knowledge to brand myself in a strategic way. If I want a graphic design job, I will start researching graphic design. As I come across interesting articles and news stories, I will share these on Facebook, adjusting the privacy settings to “Public”.
This should be done regularly, for example, on a weekly basis. Also include on occasion some public posts unrelated to your professional field of interest that add character to your personality and give you more of a human voice. After a while, your public profile will start to take shape and add a compelling edge to your overall online personal brand and job search.