It’s this new thing called Facebook – ever heard of it? Boasting two billion members, Facebook has become a staple in everyday social life. As the social world expands into the professional world, it’s time to use this social tool to boost your professional life.
While LinkedIn is a more logical choice for professional involvement, Facebook boasts nearly 5 times as many members as LinkedIn, and a higher engagement rate: 70% of Facebook users engage daily vs. only 13% of LinkedIn users (Pew Research). With more members and more frequent use, more opportunities are available. Amongst people who found their current job through a social network, 78% attributed their job to Facebook, while 40% cited assistance from LinkedIn (Jobvite).
Facebook can be a vital tool, not only in your job search, but also in building and strengthening current professional relationships.
However, the tactics required for Facebook professional success differ from casual social use. Check out our recommendations for preparing your profile, expanding your Facebook use in a job search, and maintaining use in your professional life.
Prepare: Are you ready?
It is against Ledgent’s policy for our own hiring managers to make hiring decisions based on a candidate’s Facebook profile. Correspondingly, we have no social media requirements or expectations for candidates or our Ambassadors. However, it’s possible other organizations might not adhere to the same standard. The information displayed online is simply too tempting. Hiring managers, more likely than not, will check your Facebook. According to Careerbuilder, 70% of recruiters will use social networking sites to research candidates.
The good news is that most recruiters aren’t looking for the “bad stuff”: 61% are looking for information supporting your qualifications, while only 24% are looking for disqualifying behavior (Careerbuilder).
Another source reports more than 40% have reconsidered a candidate based on what they found, and as many as 69% of recruiters say that they have rejected a candidate based on their findings.
Even though a study by the Journal of Management found there was no link between social media and professional behavior, and that recruiter predictions based on social media are often wrong, humans – hiring managers included – cannot always separate judgments logically. What’s on your social media does not define you, but it can influence how hiring managers see you.
The good news is that your Facebook page can also display you in a positive light as well, helping hiring managers can get a more dimensional view of you as a candidate, including potential culture fit.
You need to be prepared for potential employers to look you up, to utilize your current connections, and to reach out to other professionals.
Disclaimer: These are only recommendations for using Facebook for professional use. There are no requirements on your social media behavior. The tips listed are only intended to be helpful, if you choose to use Facebook as a tool.
When it comes to Facebook, you can choose how much or how little the public can see. As always, it’s usually best to make your profile completely private. But if you want to be found, you can customize your privacy settings.
You can control who “sees your stuff,” who can contact you, and who can look you up – you can even prevent search engines from linking to your profile. This can help prevent recruiters’ wandering eyes.
No matter your privacy settings, it’s best to clean up your profile. If this process feels too daunting, consider employing a squeaky-clean scrubbing app like Scrubber or Clear to make controversial content disappear.
People can see your profile picture, even if your profile is private. Since this is Facebook, the photo can be more casual than your LinkedIn photo – but it should be a nice photo.
Consider your clothing, background, and other people included in the photo. Double-check your tagged photos and ensure all photos you make visible and add in the future are appropriate.
In your About section, you can customize any and all information you advertise. Your About section includes your work and education, places you lived, contact and other basic information.
Your work and education will be the most important features in your job search, make sure those details are accurate and up to date.
To access your About section, go to your profile and click About.
When others click on your About section, they can also see your:
- Latest photos and videos
- Places you “checked-in”
- Pages you’ve liked
- Events you’ve attended
- Groups you are a part of (even if they are “closed groups”)
- And other preferences
These can help build a more well-rounded picture of you as a candidate. But they can also reveal things that you may not bring up in an interview.
Be aware that the pages, groups, and places you’ve been may make recruiters uncomfortable.
Education and Work History
This is pretty self-explanatory, and can be found in the “Work and Education” section, under the “About” tab. Keep this up to date and accurate.
Posting & Liking Habits
When outsiders look at your profile, they can see your status updates, dating as far back as the day you joined Facebook.
According to the Jobvite Recruiter Nation Report 2016, recruiters site these as disqualifiers:
- Typos – 72%
- Marijuana – 71%
- Oversharing – 60%
- Alcohol – 47%
- Selfies – 18%
Meanwhile, Careerbuilder states the following as disqualifiers:
- Provocative or Inappropriate Content – 39%
- Alcohol and Drugs – 38%
- Bigoted Content (Race, Religion, Gender, etc.) – 32%
- Bad-mouthing Previous Company – 30%
- Poor Communication Skills – 27%
Note: there are ways to prevent individual connections and the public from seeing certain posts – see our Friends section for details.
Unless you specifically select your audience, all the articles you share and thoughts you express are made available. Again, the rule should be: if I wouldn’t share it in an interview, I probably shouldn’t post it publicly.
When deciding what to post, it’s best to follow the 6 B’s:
- Better Half: avoid oversharing about your significant other, especially intimate details or photos
- Bucks: money is a sensitive subject, complaining or bragging about salary can look unprofessional
- Booze + Bud: weekend partying may not portray you in the best professional light. Also, while marijuana laws are changing from state to state, it remains illegal under federal law and worker’s rights under the new laws vary according to location, and may not always lean in your favor
- Bipartisan: politics are a volatile topic at the moment – it’s best to avoid them all together.
- Battleground: Do not start arguments on Facebook, those discussions are best suited for Messenger. Also, avoid complaining about any current or past jobs
- Blades + Blasters: weapon-related posts can make people feel uncomfortable, it’s best to avoid these
Keep these in mind with future posts and when sifting through past posts. Practice good grammar and spelling, and post things that you are proud of, including your accomplishments and activities. Go crazy when it comes to posting, liking, and commenting on professional and industry related topics and pages.
Careerbuilder cites these as the social media information that WILL get you hired:
- Information Supporting Qualifications – 44%
- Professional Image – 44%
- Evidence Personality Fits Company Culture – 43%
- Wide Range of Interests – 40%
- Great Communication Skills – 36%
Tips from Within
Victoria Hayes and Valerie Killeen make up the Social Media team at Roth Staffing Companies (parent company of Ledgent). With experience in social media management and public relations, they are Facebook pros. Check out their tips on getting the most out of Facebook:
“Making sure your profile is appropriate for any professional contacts doesn’t mean ONLY posting professional content, or having a professional headshot as your profile picture—people expect your Facebook to be more laidback than your LinkedIn, and sometimes, pictures of your puppy even attract the most engagement!” says Victoria.
She continues, “However, you may want to think twice before posting photos of your beer bonging last weekend or whining about your latest break-up. Stay away from posting anything that could be construed as discriminatory in anyway. Clean up your act by un-tagging any inappropriate photos, deleting rude or distasteful comments from friends, and un-joining any groups that may not necessarily scream, I’m a professional adult, hire me!”
Outside eyes can also see what your friends post on your timeline. In your privacy settings, you can turn on a setting that allows you to personally approve every post that comes from third parties.
Before you look to expand your Friends list, look to your current Friends – they can serve as connections or referrals, they can even be checking you out!
Don’t be afraid to lurk on your current Friends’ pages to find out what industries they are in or what jobs they might have. If you are interested in getting involved in their industry or organization, maintain an active relationship with them. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for their advice or opinions on changes in the industry. Some may find it off-putting if someone they don’t really know randomly asks them for a job, but most are happy to reconnect and give a helping hand.
If there is anyone in particular you want to impress or if you have posts only intended for a certain audience, you can organize your friends into categories. Go to the menu on the left of your Facebook homepage and select “Friends List.” Categorize your friends to your heart’s desire, particularly setting apart professional connections.
Then when you post, you can select your audience. This can allow you to freely post anything from the 6 B’s!
When you click to update your status, look to the lower right hand corner, and click the drop down arrow. Scroll down to more options, click custom, and there you can customize who you want to share with and/or who you don’t want to share with.
Expand: Utilizing your Facebook for a Job Search
Now that your profile is ready for professional interaction, here are a few tips to expand your usage to help you find new opportunities.
Valerie recommends beginning with marketing yourself:
“Once you’ve cleaned-up your profile, let your network know that you’re looking for new opportunities… Your friends and family will be apt to help, making recommendations and introductions, and, at the very least, cheering you on! Share periodic updates, to keep your job quest at the top of their feed (and at the top of their mind)
Pro-Tip: If you’re currently employed and searching confidentially, ensure you’re not sharing these status updates with current coworkers.”
Networking and Alumni Groups
A simple search on Facebook can lead you to a variety of networking and alumni groups. They are likely to post about different job opportunities, and are great places for you to ask about job opportunities. Forge connections with others in the groups, post relevant articles, and pose questions. It is very important to follow the B’s in these groups.
“Like” Company Pages
Companies often post about job openings or internship opportunities on their social media pages—be sure you’re following any companies you especially like to stay in the know. Take it one step further by engaging with their posts.
“As someone who has managed brand pages, it definitely doesn’t go unnoticed when one person consistently comments on or likes the company’s content,” says Victoria. “With this being said, go beyond the obvious like ‘nice’ or ‘love it’ and make sure your comments are thoughtful and worth reading.”
A knowledge of an organization’s happenings will definitely come in handy during your interview processes. Not only will they recognize your name, but you will have an up to date understanding of the organization and can provide better insight.
Friends & Liking Habits
As you increase your professional connections on Facebook, be wary of your online behavior. While you can filter who sees your posts, there isn’t a way to filter your liking or commenting activity. In their personal newsfeeds, your friends and connections can see everything you like and comment on. Again, if you regularly like and comment on things that fall within the 6 B’s, it might be best to have a fully private profile.
Maintain: Using Facebook in the Workplace
Once you’re hired, your online presence will maintain importance. We don’t recommend checking Facebook at work, but Facebook can be a powerful tool in making and strengthening workplace friendships.
Strong social relationships play a significant role in workplace engagement, and online involvement plays a role in this era of social relationships.
Those with a best friend at work tend to be more focused, more passionate, more productive, and more loyal to their organizations. Facebook can help build those friendships.
Note: You are allowed to reserve Facebook only for yourself, and not utilize it at all in your job search or workplace relationships. If that is the case, it is still a good idea to put your profile on private. It might also be a good idea to let your coworkers know that it is nothing personal, just a preference. Then put forward extra effort in the workplace, like going to lunch or after work Happy Hour.
Engage with their posts and photos (without being inappropriate), and you will soon find that you are learning more about them.
Continue the same practices utilized in preparation and expansion
- Maintain a work-friendly profile
- Categorize your friend groups
- Be wary of posting, commenting, and liking habits
Facebook is more than something to stare at when bored. It can be a powerful tool that can change your professional life – for better or worse. Proactively protect yourself, make a career change, or strengthen your workplace relationships.