Can Facebook Negatively Impact Your Job Search?

The short answer is 'Yes'.  Whether you are meeting someone as a networking contact, or for an interview, chances are you will check them out on LinkedIn first.  Why?  To see what you can learn about them.  Which contacts you have in common.  Where they went to school.  Which professional associations they joined.  Past employers.  All really good information to help you decide if this will be a good employer or networking connection.  However, you will be the subject of the same type of research.  If you are planning to change jobs, be aware that recruiters and hiring managers will check your LinkedIn profile.  Many will actually take it a step further and check Facebook.  Yes, Facebook. 

If you are not on Facebook, then you are among the few.  However, if you are on Facebook, what is posted on your wall could be the deciding factor on whether you are invited in for an interview or receive a job offer.  Before you begin your job search, it is important to know what your online image says about you.  In other words, what is your digital dirt?  Here are three things that will help to present you as a good potential employee or networking contact:

  • "Google" yourself.  Whether you use Google or another search engine, type your name in the search box and hit 'Enter'.  You may be surprised at what comes up.  It is better to be surprised on your own living room couch than sitting across from a networking contact or potential employer when they bring it up.    
  • Use a professional profile picture.  Part of your on-line image includes your picture.  Pictures of you on family vacation or with the family pet do not present a professional image.  If you can, have a professional head shot taken and use that as your profile picture, especially on LinkedIn.  Another option is to ask a friend to take a picture of you with a plain background.  On Facebook, be aware that the friends of your friends may be able to see your pictures.  You never know who they are connected to.  
  • Review your Facebook posts.  Use Facebook's new Timeline feature as an easy way to review your posting history and the conversation threads in which you have participated.  Be sure to check the comments your friends have posted on your wall.  Depending on your settings, your wall may be viewed by friends of your friends.  Again, you do not know who they are connected to.  
There is nothing wrong with having a LinkedIn profile for your professional connections, and a Facebook profile for interacting with your friends and family.  However the lines between the two will blur.  Inappropriate or racy comments made by you or others can tarnish your on-line image.  If your Facebook friends make inappropriate comments on your wall, take action by:
  • Confronting the person and asking them not to leave inappropriate comments on your wall.  
  • Deleting their comment. 
  • Blocking them from posting comments.
  • Exercising your right to 'unfriend' them.  
Certain email add-ons (i.e. Rapportive) allow people who are not connected to you to see your profile picture, LinkedIn and Facebook posts, as well as your tweets.  All the more reason why you should protect your on-line image with the same diligence as you protect your reputation.  In this electronic age, they will both precede you.    Post responsibly.  

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