Keep a professional Facebook profile and still be yourself

Your Facebook profile is a little piece of you.  You want it to provide an accurate representation of yourself.  Facebook is where you probably feel safe enough to say what you like and act how you want.

How would you feel if professional social networking could get you better job prospects?  What if you might fare better with an open profile?  What would potential employers see when they typed your name into Google?

photo by constantine✖belias™

photo by constantine✖belias™

Internet psychologist, Graham Jones, recently mentioned a University of Wisconsin study that gave social networks like Facebook a positive spin for employment:

“[The report] shows that users of social networks are more likely to get a job and when they do get the job they get higher starting salaries than people who do not engage with online social networks.”

Even better, it’s good enough just to focus on friends and family.  There’s no need to talk business or cover topics you don’t feel belong on your Facebook profile:

“There was a twist in the study; the social networking profiles were written in three ways. One group of profiles were business-like, another were focused on friends and family, while a third group concentrated on the alcoholic exploits of the candidates…! Needless to say, the alcohol-related applicants were rejected – but the other two were treated equally. This squashes the myth that you should separate your social networks into one for friends and another for business. Employers, it seems, are just as happy to take you on if your profile is family related.

A professional profile doesn’t mean ‘business-related’.  It means that you have a positive online presence.

There are tales of ‘friending’ the boss and then making work-related remarks that end up in getting fired.  But you can still be yourself without resorting to status updates about hating work or throwing a sickie.  Do those comments truly represent you, or are you making hastily written, throwaway comments?

Unless your life is not complete without hate-filled comments about work, it’s time to get the rest of your profile in shape.  You don’t need to sacrifice the person you are.  At least, you won’t sacrifice the positive stuff that you want everyone to see anyway. 😉

Take steps like these to make sure your Facebook profile is professionally personal:

  • Filter the photos – First, filter your own snaps.  Don’t just upload everything you take.  If you want people to respect you, then you need to respect them too.
    Second, filter other user photos by deleting your name tag against any photos you don’t want to be associated with.  Even if someone else takes a photo of you and they publish it with your name tagged to it, you can delete that tag.  Of course, you can ask beg for them to take the photo down too.  Either way, you aren’t required to have your Facebook name associated with it.
  • Filter your friends – Do you know everyone you’re following?  Do you want all your old schoolmates listed as friends, or were you just thinking about the numbers?  Be selective, or at least choose what each friend gets to see on your profile. Like this…
  • Put your friends into lists – Click the ‘Friends’ tab on Facebook.  At the top of that page there is an option to “+ Create a List”.  Make different lists of friends based on who they are and what type of information you want to send their way (or not).
  • Mind your language – There’s a difference between dropping an occasional f-bomb and using it every other word.
  • Think before you update – Are you saying something in the heat of the moment?  Slow down and make sure you feel it’s necessary to post an update.
  • Log out or lock your computer when you go away. And don’t leave your phone alone! – Mates will be mates.  If you leave an open Facebook profile unattended, you may find a nasty surprise when you get back.  In my update streams, it’s always the same people who don’t protect themselves.  Again and again. As if they want it to happen.
  • Don’t be controversial – Status updates to stir up trouble are a no-no.  Joining groups or liking things that are not publicly acceptable is asking for trouble, even if not amongst your closer friends.  Same for doing anything as a joke.  People won’t understand unless they’re in on the joke.
  • Lock down updates – If you must update your friends on something controversial, use the padlock under the text box to customise who sees it.  You can specify who you don’t want seeing the less savoury updates…although it’s still not the safest option.
  • Keep private and/or personal details exactly that! – Send messages when you’re talking to a select few people and sharing non-public details.  It’s the easiest way for the sake of you and your friends.

These are just a few ideas.  How do you keep your profile looking respectable while staying true to yourself?