Should job seekers utilize facebook?

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I came across this article on McKinsey’s Quarterly, the same day I received my first job related request in my Facebook inbox. The requester, who attended a school I used to attend, was asking for guidance in getting a job with a company where I used to work.

When I got the message, I had several reactions. First, I was concerned about the privacy of my information outside my network of “friends”. Second, I could not respond to the requester without granting him access to portions of my profile for 30 days. Finally, I wondered why this requester did not contact me through a more “formal” method like email, since my contact information is registered with all my previous companies and schools.

I later found that the requester had found me by doing a search on our school and my previous company. I found it interesting that he went first to Facebook, rather than the school’s alumni database. That search gave him only my name and my networks, since I have all other information set as private. He was able to click on my profile and send me an email, since I do have that as an allowable option.

In this case, I did respond to his very polite request that I would be happy to help him, even though I’m probably not much help in my current position. But it got me thinking about my reaction and how others in my position might react. I would have been much more likely to help him had he contacted me through a more “professional” manner, like LinkedIn, email, or phone.

For now, I’d advise job seekers to avoid Facebook, unless they are just doing research. An introduction from a friend of a friend or a less invasive contact method will be more effective, and definitely safer. Over time, we’ll see what happens with Facebook, but for now, there are too many people, at least in my generation, who consider it more personal and private than other mediums of communication.

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