Job searchEveryone’s on Facebook to some degree or another. Some of us post updates multiple times per day.  Others only post when we feel we have something important to say or have interesting information to provide. And others rarely post updates, ever. You just created an account so that your friends would stop bugging you! But no matter which category you fall into, Facebook is typically for sharing information with our friends and family. When it comes to our jobs and job searches, Facebook is off limits. Or so you may think.

Facebook has become a serious screening tool for companies that are hiring. In fact, social media service company Reppler, published a study claiming that 90% of recruiters and hiring managers look at an applicant’s Facebook pages. That’s a significant number and one that everyone needs to be aware of. But what are companies looking for beyond the obvious photos and posts that might deem a candidate unfit for employment?

Another study done by the Journal of Applied Social Psychology claims that employers can determine job performance based on your Facebook page. That’s right, those pictures of all your travels tell a possible employer you are open to new experiences. The constant flow of supportive posts from your friends may indicate you are emotionally unstable. And ongoing arguments with your friends indicates you may not be very agreeable. This study was conducted over a six month period involving 500 people and resulted in “unnerving” accuracy.

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As it is with most new things, they eventually go too far. Such is the case with Facebook and potential employers. It is being reported that a number of employers, mostly government agencies, are demanding applicants user names and passwords. There are obviously many problems with this practice, the least of which is an invasion of privacy.

Potential employers demand Facebook passwords

So what can you do with this information? One approach is to lock down your Facebook privacy settings. Make it so that only those you are connected to can see your updates. Facebook has made their privacy settings much easier to navigate in recent years so this should be pretty straight forward.

Another approach is to use this to your advantage. Make your Facebook page available to the public, but post information that will be beneficial to your job and/or job search. Either approach works, but make sure you are aware of what is happening so you can figure out the strategy that is best for you.

Looking for a new job? Read: How to Optimize Your Job Search, A Comprehensive Guide for Every Job Seeker

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