From the beginning of social media time, you’ve kept your professional persona and your personal profiles separate. While your LinkedIn profile is highlighted in your resume, email signature, networking cards and anywhere else you can put a hyperlink, your Facebook page is locked away under privacy settings Fort Knox would consider excessive.
You have your online professional network and your online social network, and the two never meet…. right?
Not so much. They can and do meet thanks to one of Facebook’s latest updates: Graph Search. Graph Search is a social search engine that pulls public info from Facebook to help you find what you’re looking for.
Let’s say you want to find restaurants your friends like in Nashville or people from your hometown who enjoy karate — a few clicks, and you have a detailed list of profiles at your disposal.
Beyond opportunities to discover cool new restaurants or fellow karate enthusiasts, Graph Search also offers huge possibilities for job seekers. And depending on how you play your hand, those possibilities could be good, bad or even a little ugly.
Follow these four tips to make the most of Graph Search during your job hunt:
1. Rethink your privacy settings
The first social task of most job seekers is the absolute lockdown of their Facebook page. Who wants to blow a job opportunity thanks to an unflattering keg stand photo? But with the advent of Graph Search, employers will be headed to Facebook not only to vet current candidates, but also to recruit. (Click to Tweet!)
Let’s say I own a physical therapy clinic in Philadelphia and need a new therapist to spearhead our running clinic. I type “physical therapists who live in Philadelphia and like running” and get a list of qualified candidates.
But here’s the thing: you only show up if your privacy settings allow people to find you. If you’re on the job hunt and have your profile under virtual lock and key, you could be missing out.
2. Refine your profile
Sure, you’ll want to go through your account and scrub any questionable content (if you haven’t already), but that’s not the end of refining your profile. Update your “about” section and make it search-friendly. Avoid acronyms or those “hip” names people give positions. You’re not an accounting ninja. You’re an accountant.
It’s also worth looking through your likes and interests.Your interests have probably changed since you set up your profile in college. Add interests that better reflect where you are now.
3. Discover new connections
Your Facebook network is different from LinkedIn. You likely aren’t “linked” to your senior prom date, but you could be Facebook friends. Just as LinkedIn allows you to find connections who work for the company you’re interested in, Facebook does, too.
Simply search for “friends who work at (insert dream company here)” and watch the magic happen. And who knows? Your prom date may be able to pull a few strings.
4. Flip the script
Graph Search doesn’t just help the right employer find you; it also helps you find the right employer. You can search for public relations firms your friends like or that friends of your friends like.
Once you find a couple of places you’re interested in, you can refine your search even more. Any employees from your alma mater? How about someone from your hometown? How many people at the company like Breaking Bad? You want to have someone to talk to on Monday morning.
Of course, this is no substitute for actually meeting your potential coworkers, but it does give you an opportunity to learn more about the culture and who you’ll be working with before you ever step foot in the door.
And if you’re still not convinced about the benefits of mixing your professional and personal social personas, know that you won’t be able to hold out much longer. With Bing’s social integration, Google+ and now Graph Search, social search is on its way to becoming the new norm.
Take the opportunity to get ahead now — or risk losing that potential job to someone else who’s willing to take the leap.
Kimberly Shrack is a social media strategist living in Philadelphia. You can find her on Twitter at @kjshrack or at kjshrack.com.