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Career planning and research with… Facebook?

April 21, 2016

With LinkedIn clearly focusing on business networking, do other social media platforms matter in the job world at all? When it comes to popularity and intensity of usage, no other network comes even close to Facebook. While indeed most users do experience Mark Zuckerberg’s service as private communication, Facebook has indeed become a vital part of research and online reputation management.

Do you use Facebook? The answer to this question definitely does not solely depend on one’s personal taste any more: The platform which originally started out under the name of “Facemash” in 2003 has since then grown into a much larger entity than “just” a social network. Instagram, Whatsapp and virtual reality pioneer Oculus are part of the Facebook universe. Thanks to these acquisitions as well as the strategically designed API (Advanced Programming Interface, allowing 3rd party apps to pull data from FB), the company has become a vital part of contemporary internet infrastructure.

Registering for new online services via Facebook instead of e-mail / password combination has become a de-facto standard by now. Millions of websites integrate Facebook’s sharing and comment plugins. The Instant article CMS, available to all users since April 2016, enables publishers to reach new audiences with mobile-optimized multimedia content.

Privacy: How secure is our data on Facebook?

For most companies, Facebook’s popularity alone is enough reason for setting up and running a corporate Yet, who needs a private account, when the urge of posting daily food photos is really low? Generally, the platform offers finely granulated privacy options: Using a variety of switches and settings, users can fine-tune the visibility of their content – basically, the three available options are “public”, “visible to friends” or “friends of friends”.

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Facebook’s privacy settings

Diving into these settings takes time, which might not be too overly well invested at all. Personally, I do not trust any security or privacy settings I haven’t designed myself. In the past, plenty of security glitches proved impressively, that the promised privacy is moving on exceptionally thin ice: Even the private marriage album of Mark Zuckerberg suddenly became publicly visible after a photo-album bug occurred a couple of years ago.

If, on the other hand, you use Facebook exactly like a public blog, solely publishing photos, videos and status updates which everyone is allowed to see, you are always on the safe side. There are much better channels for truly private conversations, like a secure chatroom or an encrypted e-mail.

Best Facebook practices for job-seekers

  • Even if your job application does not contain your Facebook URL, it’s a safe bet that most recruiters are going to try and take a look at your profile. US college recruiting consultants advise their clients to “model” their public profile to this purpose – the same applies to job seekers.
  • Facebook groups are a powerful and handy tool. Whenever you need to coordinate a group of co-workers, these discussion boards (either public or private - accessible only via invitation) come in very handy. The integrated document management makes these groups a brilliant collaboration tool.
  • Even though Facebook is available in various languages, the non-English localizations differ greatly from the English “original”: Most features, like the full-text-search, are available months earlier for users of the English language version.
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Facebook profiles come with an extensive “about” section, but the timeline feed is all about users’ status updates.

Conclusion: When planning a career change, one should not underestimate the power of a well-managed Facebook profile. Of course nobody wants to paint an unflattering picture of themselves in public – but a positive image beats virtual invisibility by far.

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