Facebook: The career maker or breaker

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A trend has been developing in the world of job searching: employers have started asking their applicants to send links to the social media sites they belong to instead of sending their resume and cover letter. As young people immerse themselves more than ever before in social media, information is becoming more readily accessible. Facebook, the network that started it all, is now the prime target for employers to really get to know their job candidates.

So what does your Facebook profile say about you? As you prepare to end the school year and apply for jobs, it is important to remember a few things. Here are the top five tips for keeping your Facebook profile job-application friendly:

Your photos are not just on Facebook. Once you post a photo on your profile — whether you delete it or not — it will always be on the Internet. If you would like to test the reality of this statement, enter your name into Google — ah hah! There's that dreaded St. Paddy's photo! Employers only know so much about you, so that keg stand picture might be the reason you don't get an interview.

Privacy settings only do so much. One thing to keep in mind with Facebook is that the format of their site is constantly changing, which also means the privacy settings are, too. An easy way to be sure your privacy is protected is to not post inappropriate photos or comments in the first place — it's as simple as that! Set the privacy settings high on your profile regardless — you don't need people you do not know well knowing everything about you.

Last night's fun outing could be today's nightmare. Posting inappropriate comments and photos not only makes you appear unprofessional, but if you in any way negatively represent a group or association, you have now given them a bad reputation as well. The Fleming riot is the perfect example — many individuals posted on Facebook how they contributed to the damage done and these people are now getting arrested. Don't post that on Facebook and, more importantly, don't do it in the first place.

Gone but not forgotten. A hard lesson to learn on Facebook is how to network with your hundreds of “friends,” and as a result, people get deleted and are erased from your profile. Warning: be careful who you delete. Just because that person is not someone you see every day, they may be close with a contact in your professional circle. With that being said, it is unlikely that you have 1,000 friends in real life, so make sure your Facebook profile is an honest reflection of who you know. “Guilty by association” is something to always keep in mind — sometimes your Facebook friends are a direct reflection of the people you hang out with in real life. When you start to apply for jobs, keep in mind that Facebook friending that Fleming rioter could be another strike against your chances at getting an interview.

What does your “information” say about you? What you say is just as important as how you say it. Talk about your interests and hobbies, but always be sure to keep it professional. If you are in a sorority, for example, be sure to talk about your role and contributions to your school and society, not just the awesome parties at the frat house next door.

Applying for jobs can be stressful, so be sure to eliminate each stressor by starting with your Facebook profile. A simple rule to follow: don't post anything you wouldn't want your mother to see. If you are hiding those party pictures and putting your parents on their own privacy setting, maybe they shouldn't be on Facebook in the first place. Also keep in mind that nowadays many social networking sites connect together, which means that if you have LinkedIn and Facebook connected, your potential employers could be viewing last night's drinking competition.