Facebook’s new features could help you better use the networking site to present your work history and keep in touch with professional contacts.
What’s your Facebook policy on friending professional contacts?
Users between the ages of 18 and 29 tend to use the site mainly to interact with friends and family, not as a career resource, according to a new study by Millennial Branding, a Boston-based branding consultancy that worked with Identified.com to pull data.
Only a third of GenY users add a job title to their Facebook profile, the study found, yet more than half of those young professionals add at least a handful of work contacts as their Facebook friends.
That leaves Generation Y in a bind. While many don’t see Facebook as a professional space, we still interact with work contacts – which means how we present ourselves on the social networking site spills over into our professional life.
“GenY needs to be aware that what they publish online can come back to haunt them in the workplace,” said Dan Schwabel, a personal branding expert and managing partner of Millennial Branding. “GenY managers and co-workers have insight into their social lives, which could create an awkward workplace setting or even result in a termination.”
Before it gets that far, you can take some simple steps to ensure your Facebook profile feels and looks professional, even while remaining personal. It might even help you use your network to your advantage.
Facebook as a resume
First, add your current and past job titles. While 80 percent of Millennials include their college or university on their profile, only 36 percent list an employer, Millennial Branding reports. Especially if you’ve changed jobs recently, make sure to keep your work information current.
Then check out Facebook’s recent design changes, which make your work history even more important. The redesigned profile is more than a new look; it presents a timeline of each user’s life, with past events ordered chronologically and easily accessible.
The timeline format could effectively become a digital resume, says Job coach Gerrit Hall. He predicts employers will increasingly turn to Facebook to vet potential hires.
“From the giant cover image at the top to the chronological organization down the line, your Facebook profile is a resume for your life, not just your career,” Hall, co-founder of RezScore, a company that analyzes and grades resumes for job seekers, wrote on digital news site Mashable.
If you activate the new look, Facebook gives you a week to review everything on your profile before making the changes public. Take that time to review old status updates or photos, and delete ones that might not be appropriate for your professional friends. And don’t just think about what to take off; the switch is a good opportunity to literally see what information, including your work experience, is missing and what you might add.
Other helpful Facebook features
Hall also recommends taking advantage of another relatively new feature on Facebook: the ability to tailor status updates for specific groups of people. If you organize your contacts into lists of friends, classmates or business contacts, you can then make updates visible only to certain groups.
That way, you can share personal news only with your real-life friends. Have an industry-related piece of information? Share it with your business contacts. On average, young professionals have 16 friends from their professional circle, Millennial Branding reports.
And don’t forget that Facebook isn’t just a place for you to offer information; you can also gather precious details about possible employers and co-workers, which can be helpful during a job search.
In the end, using Facebook to your advantage in the workplace should fit well with the entrepreneurial spirit of GenY. Among those who did list a job title, the fifth most popular entry is “owner.”
What’s your policy on friending co-workers? Do you use Facebook’s list feature to send updates only to certain friends?
Jessica Binsch is a digital journalist living and working in Washington, D.C. She holds a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism and blogs at CuriousontheRoad.com.