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How Social Media Can Help (or Hurt) Your Job Search

Do's and don'ts on using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter

To be on the safe side …

  • Do get to know and use your privacy settings. To get started, click on the drop-down arrow in the upper right-hand corner next to "Home" and find Privacy Settings. For example, under "Control Your Default Privacy," you can choose to make your account public (available to the whole world), make it available to only the people you "friend," or customize it. Ask yourself, "If someone were to Google my name, do I want my Facebook profile to appear?"
  • Do choose a strong and unique password. Only use that password for Facebook.
  • Say straight-out that you're on the market. Post a message that says you're looking, and for what. "Your friends can be an amazing resource," Carpenter says. "You never know who or what people know that could help you." Of course, if your current supervisor is one of your Facebook friends and is unaware that you are looking for a new job, you may want to reconsider posting.
  • Do sift through your photos to make sure they're all G-rated. Delete questionable pictures of yourself. Untag yourself from any unsavory photos, whether they include your image or not.
  • Be diplomatic in your "updates." Don't gripe about your current boss. Don't use swear words, and be mindful of participating in controversial topics or debates. "Think of your Facebook account like your dinner table," Carpenter says. "If you wouldn't bring it up at the table, then don't do it on Facebook."
  • Do "like" or "join" Facebook pages of companies or organizations that interest you, as a way of staying abreast of news and promotions.
  • Don't create separate work and personal profiles. With two of them, you can easily get confused and post to the wrong account. "When you try to straddle the line, that's when mistakes happen," Carpenter says.
  • Don't "friend" anyone you don't feel comfortable sharing your life with.

Next: How to be on your best behavior while using LinkedIn. »

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