A few weeks ago I received an email. In the email I was asked to give a reference for two individuals who were applying for the same job. That’s not really unusual, right? We’ll, here’s the kicker. (I hope this doesn’t get too complicated …) One of the key decision maker’s daughter and I are friends on Facebook. She found out I that I was friends with both applicants. I suspect there is no way that my friendship with both parties would have ever been known except for Facebook. Three completely different circles of friends were connected by Facebook. The stake was high – a full time job.
Before this incident I had heard that the CEO of a large non-profit always asks to become friends with all potential employees. A few moments scanning those Facebook pages reveals so much about a person’s true character.
Thus, it becomes clear that getting a job is not a matter of luck, there are changes you can make to your Facebook account to increase your chances of getting hired. Before starting you start job hunting, you’ll want to get organized.
Job Hunting Tips for Facebook Users
- While it might not be possible to keep a completely professional Facebook profile, each job hunter should be sure that their Facebook account is full of positive information. Facebook provides one of the best places to get a good, concise, and honest look at a person’s character. Expect that a future employer will at least want to have a look at your Facebook profile. If you do become ‘friends’ you’ll want that glance to have a positive impact. If you boss is already your ‘friend’ you’ll want to maintain a more professional profile to avoid a job loss. As a side not this is especially important if you start your own small business. Facebook will become an important networking tool.
- Screen your friends or restrict access to types of friends. Ever heard of “six degrees of separation?” It is the idea that through a small handful of people you are connected to the rest of the world. There are some friends who you are embarrassed to say were once your friends. Now, you’ve grown up and moved along, but based on their updates it is clear that they have not. While there is not a direct transference of character, if most of your friends have shady content the obvious assumption is that you also must share the same character. Block such friends. A second option is to use your settings options where you can accept someone’s friend request but restrict their access to your pictures or wall comments. This way a potential employer cannot view your pictures or wall comments. Remember, however, that every level of access you deny may raise a thread of suspicion.
- Comment and update as if an employer was reading your updates. There have been far too many times when people leave a status and completely forget that hundreds (or thousands) of other people read their status. Sometimes we just want to vent if we’ve had a horrible day. Facebook frequently becomes that venue. Avoid the temptation to bear your soul on Facebook. You never know who is watching.
- Facebook is often seen as a true reflection of your character while the interview is just the person you hope to present. I’m not encouraging you to become something fabricated on Facebook, but be guarded with your content just like you would be in person.
- Use Facebook to make a personal contact within a company. Suggested update: “I have a job interview at ____. Anyone know someone who works there?” If you can find a personal contact who will vouch for you, your resume is much more likely to get a second look.
- Use Facebook to do research on your potential employer (either the company or the individual) before your first interview. I know a person from Houston who flew up to Cheyenne, Wyoming for a job interview. Wednesday night, before his interview, he went to church and actually met the person who was going to be interviewing him the next day. I know both parties and could have given the interviewer a heads up had I known he was going up for the interview. Update suggestion: “I’m heading up to ____________ (city) for an interview with ____________(company). Anyone know anything about the company?”
- Review your Facebook settings page. From your settings page you can adjust access and set privacy restrictions. Probably the biggest decision is about ‘networks’. If you are part of a network it is possible that everyone in that network can access your information – not just your friends. Visit the settings page and customize it according to your preferences. In addition, you could use Facebook to create groups (like professional contacts) and allow each group to see only parts of your information.
- Decide on your main purpose with Facebook. Some try to use Facebook for too many purposes. They want to network for business relationships. They want to catch up with old friends. They want a way to feel connected to present day friends. Some use Facebook as an online ‘private’ journal. The problem is these divergent goals might conflict with each other. If, for example, you use Facebook just to catch up with old friends you can decline a potential employer’s request explaining you only use it to keep in touch with old friends.
- You’ll want to position yourself in such a way that once you do become friends with a potential employer you can use that Facebook connection to advance in the organization. Facebook can be leveraged for business purposes.
Have any of you used Facebook to help land a job? What other job hunting tips would you suggest? Is it fair that nothing is sacred any more – not even Facebook?
Craig Ford is a fulltime missionary in Papua New Guinea who writes Money Help For Christians and Help Me Travel Cheap, a frugal family travel blog. He is the author of Money Wisdom From Proverbs, has a Masters of Divinity degree, and (most importantly) eats homemade pizza with his family every Friday night.