It's hard to believe, but Facebook is less than five years old; this month, the social media networking platform will celebrate it's second anniversary of being open to the general public! Five years seems like a very short-time when you consider that the site now has over 100 million users and is reported to be the fifth most accessed online site.
I used to have a love-hate relationship with Facebook: as a career counselor, I have spent a great deal of the past four years advising clients to be very wary of what they posted online since employers and other potential contacts frequently search the site for "evidence" prior to making an offer.
Then I opened an account myself, and within the week--I was hooked, and happy to be back in touch with old friends from grade school to former colleagues.
Over this past week, Computer World reported on the results of a Career Builder survey. The title of the piece: "One in five employers uses social networks in the hiring process." At first glance, the survey appears to confirm my previous suspicions--according to the survey, over one third of employers say that they have rejected candidates based on what they've found online. The top reasons for "rejections" (40% respectively) were inappropriate photos and other evidence of substance use/abuse.
While the headline to the Computer World survey repeated the precautionary message about exercising discretion when posting to Facebook, I find a silver lining and harbinger of what's to come in via a sidenote:
The study did find that 24% of hiring managers found content on social networks that helped convince them to hire a candidate. Hiring managers said that profiles showing a professional image and solid references can boost a candidate's chances for a job.
At this stage in the game, I'd never advise anyone to unsubscribe from Facebook in order to avoid employer scrutiny. Instead, here are three resources I recommend which provide information on start using Facebook to your professional advantage:
I'm on Facebook, Now What (Jason Alba)
Can You Get A Job By Advertising on Facebook? (Lindsey Pollak)
Facebook Strategies - The Power of Facebook Groups (Phil Rosenberg)
These tips represent only a fraction of Facebook's capability, but are a good jumping off point in terms of exploring the possibilities. To your success!