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Job Search Strategy

What If An Employer Asks for My Facebook Password?

I was asked this question by a reporter at the AP. You can see the story here.

It's technically illegal for employers to ask -- as it's against Facebook's terms of service to share your passwords or login with someone else's information. But it's unlikely that an employer would be prosecuted since you are giving them permission to login to your account.

That said, in a job search -- if you want to get hired, I think it's important to look like you've nothing to hide. In general, you want to be friendly, approachable, and presentable.

Here's a two step process you can use to address the question:

  1. Ask what the employer's looking for when they look at Facebook. Don't ask "Why" as that may come across as aggressive. Instead say, "What will you be looking for?"
     
    In many cases, employers who have asked for Facebook login information have been law enforcement professionals -- looking for evidence of gang involvement or illegal opportunities.

    In others industries, employers may want to see your Facebook profile so that they can see how your out-of-work activities demonstrate what you want to do for work. Want to be an event manager? Do you help organize activities for your friends? In this case, your involvement can actually help you and work in your favor.

  2.  Politely sidestep the password access information issue by offering an alternative way for the employer to get the information.

    You could say for example, I'm very careful with my passwords -- and assume you'd want me to be careful with my company e-mail account if I come to work for you. How about I friend you -- or one of your colleagues instead -- and you can take a look around.

    (This then gives you the added bonus of time, you can go back in and clean up information if you need to.)

    Want more insight on what employers are looking for? Check out the advice I gave reporter Jennifer Doll when she gave me (temporary) permission to snoop around in her Facebook and Twitter accounts. This piece gives a full overview of my advice on what to include -- and what not to include online.

How Do I Get Started on LinkedIn?

 

After years of being asked to join LinkedIn, I've finally done it. Any suggestions on how to get started?  C. L.

Great question. As LinkedIn is a full service networking site, there are many ways to use it -- from making new professional connections through LinkedIn groups and Q &A discussions to finding jobs and requesting referrals.

If you're new to LinkedIn, the first thing you should do is make sure you've got an amazing profile that employers can find. Studies show that up to 86% of employers using social media to find candidates for jobs use LinkedIn so I recommend you have the best profile possible.

Bonus: LinkedIn is one of the 15 most accessed sites online as tracked by Alexa.com, so any information you post on the site and make public will help you be found by major search engines -- and prospective employers.

Here's a quick list of easy steps you can use to optimize LinkedIn that I created over at StartWire.com. Let me know if you find this to be helpful -- and good luck!

Is it Better to Have Many Friends or a Few Good Ones?


My friend Jim and I are having an argument over networking? Jim says it's better to be an open networker on LinkedIn; I say it's better to follow LinkedIn's suggestion -- and only connect with people I know well. Which is the better strategy?

- K.L.

There's no right answer. It's up to your own level of comfort, and depends on what purpose you'd like to use your network for.

That said, my personal preference is to only connect with people who know you well. Why? If you get a job lead through a networking contact -- and they don't know you well...they cannot vouch for you.

It's not who you know that matters -- it is whether or not they are willing to speak up for you.

In my opinion, that's what matters most. "I recommend you for any job that you are qualified for," is a pretty weak reference. So Is "I don't know her."

 

Are Cover Letters Really Necessary?


Are cover letters worth writing?

One person says no one reads them. Another says the letter is more important than the resume.

- JD

Sometimes looking for jobs is a lot like dating:

Say you have two dates with two different people, both of whom know your food preferences:

Date person #1 remembers that you are a vegetarian, checks out the Zagat rating and books a table at Paul McCartney's favorite vegetarian restaurant.

Date person #2 takes you to a steak house, when you say you don't eat meat -- tells you there's a lot on the salad bar.

Which date are you more inclined to prefer? The one who has taken the time to listen and consider your needs, or the one who's asked you to be flexible.

Cover letters are an opportunity for you to show the kind of date you are:

A good letter shows you've taken the time to think through the job -- and how your skills line up. It shows how interested you are, that you've taken the time to familiarize yourself with the role.

Like dating, there's no guarantee your potential employer will take the time to carefully assess your interest. There's no guarantee you'll get a call back.

But the more effort you put forward, the more likely it is -- at some point in the process -- that you will have your interest reciprocated. And a cover letter shows that you can be a good date.

Your thoughts?