In her article, What Employers Are Thinking When They Look At Your Facebook Page, Forbes writer Kashmir Hill notes, "In my opinion, those who don't want employers looking them up on Facebook pages are fighting a losing battle."
She couldn't be more right.
This is the season of social media, when prevailing winds swoop up and distribute Facebook postings for global scrutiny. Despite the availability of privacy settings—which only sometimes work—job-seekers should put every post through the mom/dad/boss filter: If you don't want them to read what you write, then don't publish it.
[See The Best Jobs of 2012.]
And considering the blustery economic climate in which we currently reside, each one of us should consider ourselves job-seekers. So, with that said, here are five suggestions on how to best use Facebook to propel—and not derail—your job search goals:
1. Invite and accept invitations from connected folks. These people may help you link to your job and/or company of choice. For example, you could use Glassdoor's Inside Connections, which leverages your Facebook network and helps you discover 'ins' at companies.
2. Post positive updates. Sprinkle personal messages among business-related notes. When posting personal communication, consider weaving in activities that rely on characteristics employers value, such as vigor and having a goal-focused demeanor. For example, if you run marathons, post about them, and include pictures to validate and underscore the fact that you offer those invigorating traits.
If you're involved in interesting activities that demonstrate courage and adventure, then talk about them. Sailing, for example, is a niche sport that requires courage, strategy, and a sense of adventure. Many companies want leaders and team members who can swiftly adjust course.
Also, non-athletic activities that demonstrate your willingness to volunteer ideas, contribute time, and/or help others can add value to jobs where a community-minded team is necessary.
Finally, while protecting the confidential details of your job, post general comments regarding projects you've contributed to that demonstrate your company focus. For example, did you land a new client? Then express your enthusiasm and gratitude.
[In Pictures: 10 Smart Ways to Use Social Media in Your Job Search.]
3. Avoid off-putting, pessimistic, and non-constructive posts. Be aware that sharing resentment about your boss and frustration with your long working hours might offend certain readers.
While you may feel that your brand is such that you can upset certain folks and still be recruited for that ideal role, you may want to think twice before posting volatile or negative comments on Facebook. While you may not care about the reaction of the connections potentially influenced by your offensive remarks, it's possible that they might influence the folks in hiring positions at your targeted gig.
4. Mind your manners on other people's walls and timelines. Visiting other friends' walls is commonplace, courteous, and encouraged. Likewise, adding congratulatory remarks when your friends post good news and clicking "Like" on their posts show that you are not just in it for yourself.
However, be careful about trolling on someone else's wall only to extend your own story and sell yourself, values, services, or whatever. While some people think it's cool to post links to their blogs, websites, and other pages, those on the receiving end might find it rude.
5. Be serious, despite the casual atmosphere. Don't mistake the laid-back feel as a free-for-all venue for your feelings and opinions. Be light, be fun, and even toss in your wise insights, but be cognizant of your words. Also, consider the content your friends are sharing with you on your wall. If one of them posts something offensive, you have every right to prudently hide or delete it. If another friend posts a distasteful comment on one of your updates, feel free to remove it.
Simply put, this is your house, and it is your responsibility to keep it clean and presentable to showcase your unique value.
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. Jacqui and her husband, "Sailor Rob," host a lively careers-focused blog over at at http://careertrend.net/blog.Jacqui is a power Twitter user (@ValueIntoWords) listed on several “Best People to Follow” lists for job seekers.