Facebook– Friend or Foe

Making Facebook Work for your Personal and Professional Life

Are you on Facebook?  Millions of people (over 300 million) use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.

Your friends are here.  Your family is here (I’m connected with everyone from high school classmates to cousins to grandma).  And guess what?  Employers are here (on Facebook) now, too.  Did that give you a sick feeling in your stomach?  What if your boss knew what was posted on Facebook?  Would it matter?  These are all questions that I hear everyday.  The one thing that everyone should know is: NOTHING is private on the web.  NOTHING.  It doesn’t matter if your status is set to private or if you’ve locked out certain people.  If a person is resourceful enough, they can find it.

Facebook– Friend or Foe

So with that in mind, here are a few tips to help make Facebook your friend rather than your foe:

Keep it clean. We all have fun.  Some of us have even documented that fun (legal or not) with pictures.  You just don’t have to post it on Facebook.  Keep the pictures if you need to reminisce about the good ol days.  But, would you want mom, grandma, church pastor, or your boss seeing your beer-bong contest pictures?  Probably not.

Be authentic. Your personal brand is something that can really shine through in social media.  Be consistent and authentic.  Your true personality will come out after a little time.  There’s no sense in hiding it.  Use it to your advantage.

Connect and reconnect. Facebook is a great place to learn more about the people you know or even people you want to know.  While LinkedIn is still utilized for more professional use, Facebook provides a personal side to the equation.  There are recruiters on Facebook  I would caution you to keep interactions professional.  They could care less about your Farmville, Mafia Wars, or Sorority Life gaming online.

Like it. What was recently known as become a fan has changed to provide a more open forum of interaction.  You can now like something on Facebook.  This goes for all sorts of things from a certain company (great way to learn about culture, even jobs) to trivial things such as Mexican food or sandwiches.  As Joey Tribbiani said on Friends, who doesn’t like sandwiches?Your browser may not support display of this image.

Integrate with other platforms. If you’re a Twitter user (see earlier post: Tackling Twitter), you can now update your status there at the same time as your Facebook status.  If you’re a jobseeker, use this opportunity to update regularly with things that you’re working on, types of jobs you’re seeking, and snippets of the experience you bring to the table.  You never know who will be looking!

Facebook can be a great platform for personal branding, reconnecting with friends and family and prove to be a positive resource for jobseekers.  Just remember to be yourself, keep it clean, and have a little fun.  Make Facebook work for you, not against you.

Kirk Baumann is a blogger and contestant for the Job Search Blogger Contest.  Vote for Kirk by leaving a comment until May 11th.


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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Mark L. Clark says

    This is a great perspective and a must read by those job-seekers using or hoping to use use Facebook during their job search.

    Great advice, Kirk.

  2. Lauren Sandelin says

    Great post and great tips, Kirk!

    I think the biggest thing to remember is something you touched on early – that privacy settings won’t necessarily keep things private. I’m by no means against using Facebook for personal use (heck, that’s what I use it for), but it’s all about being smart and understanding that there are certain things that just shouldn’t be put on the Web.

  3. Angela Frizell says

    Kirk’s blog covers the gamut of social media use in job search. He has a clear understanding of how to use the tools and conveys that knowledge to job seekers through his timely and relevant posts. This Facebook blog post highlights common sense mistakes made by job seekers on a regular basis. Search engines pick up Facebook (and other social media) posts. Businesses then read those posts and make educated decisions based on the content about whether or not you are an ideal candidate.
    Follow Kirk’s advice!

  4. Lou Bonica says

    Excellent advice. It is very easy to get caught up in the “fun” of sharing and recounting old stories with friends and relatives. But sometimes those stories can be misinterpreted or just plain reflect porrly. These are great guidelines to follow.

  5. Karen Siwak says

    Great recommendations for job seekers and non job seekers alike.

    I would go easy on cross-posting with twitter though, because I’ve heard more than one person complain about the duplication.

  6. Jenn says

    Great post Kirk! With all these new additions to Facebook I do find myself wondering if what I’m posting is “professional.” But then I think back to the fact that I’ve been using FB since I was a recent graduate and there are 6 years worth of pictures in my early 20s. It is too difficult to weed through them, so I have taken a stance on transparency. I do not add anyone who is considered a boss or coworker. That is what Linked In is for. If they want to dig, so be it.

  7. Vicki Owens says

    Kirk makes some really important points that one would think are common sense. Unfortunately many people don’t think about the consequences of their actions (or posts). I’ll be sharing this article with my staff. Thanks Kirk!

  8. August Cohen says


    It can’t be said enough that nothing is private on the internet. And members of Facebook get a false sense of security with the privacy settings – as you said if someone (an employer perhaps?) is resourceful enough they can get around the controls.


  9. Lori Morris says

    Great article and very true! As a corporate Recruiter who regularly uses Facebook for both personal and professional use, it is very important to keep it clean. It’s great to have fun and show your personality, but it is a direct reflection of your personal brand. What do you want that brand to say about you?

  10. Kelly Lux says

    There can’t be enough reminders out there about the perils of posting anything online that you don’t want the world to see. While facebook used to be strictly for your college friends, those days are over. Unfortunately, this means that it’s being scruitinized as part of your personal brand, even if you don’t want it to be. While I believe recruiters are leery of delving too deeply into facebaook for myriad reasons, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and this applies to everyone, not just current job-seekers.

  11. Nicole Crimaldi says

    Kirk I always enjoy reading your articles. This one was a much fresher approach to Facebook transparency than most I’ve read! Thanks!

  12. Marie Badger says

    I was well informed in advanced by my boss that I needed to be careful about what on say on any of the social media sites and I have lived by that. I’ve tried to tell college kids especially to be careful but they just want. It has effected past candidates that I’ve worked with where they clients googled them and found information. So please be careful at all times.

  13. Steve Browne says

    Great post Kirk !! I like that you are demystifying Facebook because it is such a large presence in so many people’s lives now. Good perspective and suggestions on how to utilize the forum and keep it balanced.

  14. Dawn Bugni says

    Great reminder Kirk!

    My mantra for the Internet:
    If you wouldn’t want to see it on a billboard in front of your parent’s house, then don’t put it on the Internet.

    I’d also add, rather than getting into heated debates and hate-mongering, cool off for 24 hours. The anonymity of the Internet and instantaneous nature of the media allows for a shoot first, aim later approach to communication. Calm down, exhale and above all THINK! “The Internet is ‘forever’.”

  15. Brenda Le says


    Great advice, and I lke Dawn Bugni’s statement, “If you wouldn’t want to see it on a billboard in front of your parent’s house, then don’t put it on the Internet.”


  16. Jason says

    This is great information. I honestly believe we need to educate the kids in High School. Many times kids say and post things they think are “private”.
    Great info Kirk!!!

  17. Kelly R says

    Excellent overview, Kirk! I have to agree, if you wouldn’t want a relative, pastor, current or future employer seeing it or knowing it…DO NOT put it on the internet…after all, nothing is truly private. Good read!

  18. Lou Bonica says

    Dawn’s point about a 24 hour cooling off period is also very good. I have seen unnecessary responses on discussion boards as well and recently saw a similar discussion on LinkedIn of all places.

  19. Karissa Baumann says

    Great article, and the advice is so true. Everyone needs to vote KIRK, post more comments everyday. Way to go brother!

  20. Nikki says

    Kirk definitely shares some great advice about Facebook, especially in that nothing on the Internet is private. With Facebook, it’s almost impossible to control privacy settings of other users, so even if you think your own profile is bombproof, that picture your college roommate posted of you could potentially be shared with anyone and everyone and you might not know until it’s too late. Well done, Kirk!

  21. Jan McCorkle says

    I love social media and love FB. I am saddened when I hear students say they don’t waste their time with it because there is so much potential to meet and interact with so many people – of course, within protocol. Just like we had to learn how to use email, we need to learn how to use SM. Great post Kirk, thanks for sharing!

  22. Kim Costello says

    As a professional in the Talent Acquisition field, this blog is spot on!!!

  23. Miranda says

    Kirk – great blog! I know a lot of recruiters are taking the leap to make themselves available to connect on these spaces. For those whose profiles are not appropriate, they’re missing a great opportunity to build connections with the right people.

  24. Charity Tay says

    definitely agree on the whole keep it clean thing. You have to be careful out there. Everyone can see it so nothing is private anymore. Don’t put it out unless you want it out! Good luck kirk!!

  25. Liz says


    Congrats on making it to the finalists! That’s so exciting!

    I must say, I really am grateful that I subscribed to your blog–your entries are always relevant, thoughtful, and helpful. I can tell you are really passionate about your subject matter and I always enjoy reading your posts!

    Good luck!

  26. Whitney Moore says

    Can’t wait to show this to my students! Good luck I hope you win!

  27. Cassie Riggs says

    I’ve often thought the same thing, but just couldn’t communicate it effectively!

  28. Kendra Pearson says

    Great article, Kirk! I agree, Facebook is a wonderful tool for both professional and personal connections, but it is very important to use this tool wisely. Even if you’re not Facebook friends with your grandma or your boss, you should still make sure that any photo/video/update you post is something that you would be comfortable sharing around the water cooler or at your next family reunion.

  29. Brittany James says

    Great post. I’ve recently cleaned up my Facebook. Although in my current default I am holding a drink, I think at the age of 21 and being in college, as long as I’m not blacked out, people who look me up wouldn’t think any less of me. People are definitely “liking” a lot of ridiculous groups & I think Facebook should monitor them. I don’t necessarily need to know about the millions of things someone may or may not like.

  30. Arleen14 says

    Great article Kirk!
    I always enjoy reading your posts…good luck hope you win!

  31. Patric Engelken says

    I agree! A job seeker must be totally awary of anything and everything that goes on your facebook. i check mine everyday to make sure that none of my friends are posting things that may refelct on how a potential employer looks at me!
    Great article!

  32. Derrick says

    Excellent post!

    It is always interesting to read about topics like facebook. Always try to find ways to enhance your personal brand. That should be a question that everyone asks themselves, “Is what I put on facebook, or any site for that matter, promoting my personal brand?” Something to keep in the front of your mind prior to showing drunken pictures of your self at the bonfire!

  33. Vicki Owens says

    You do a great job at providing quality (and sometimes just fun) information. Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

  34. Rand L says


    Great article! Facebook is a great tool, and I think the most important part of that statement, is that it is a tool. It can be used as a resource to obtain a desired outcome. In the case of your article, a job. It is important to use it correctly.

    You mentioned integration of social channels i.e- FB and Twitter. While that is a great idea, and helps build an online presence, I think there is also something to be said for keeping different social sites separate. I for instance do not integrate Linked In to my FB or Twitter. While FB and Twitter are more personal life focused, and I use Linked In primarily for professional purposes.

    Thanks for the insight!

  35. Jamie says

    It is amazing what people post on facebook. If only they realized the power behind those comments and photos…

  36. Izzy B. says

    Very insightful indeed. I will keep this in mind when facebooking, tweeting and all things else online. Great job!!

  37. Whitney Moore says

    When will we know if you win??? I read this to my students and they actually agreed and listened!! Thanks

  38. Mike Frank says

    Thanks Kirk! This is my ‘filter’ for what content I will post on facebook: I am friends with our President/COO, several company officers, and many colleagues. If I would not feel comfortable with the COO (or the others) seeing it; it doesn’t go on facebook. Period.

  39. Joan says

    I recently started a niche directory for the state of OK. I spent my day today finding Oklahoma bloggers with whom to connect. As a courtesy, I have listed your blog here: http://localhoma.com/index.php?c=69 I look forward to reading more from you. I connected with you via FB. 🙂

  40. Gabriella says

    Sometimes I look at what co-workers post publicly and wonder if they fail to think about all the people who may see it. It has changed my mind on several occasions.

  41. Debbie Miller says

    Great reminder to consider your audience, and tailor your content to specific people, even if that is on “personal” portals like your facebook page.



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