One of the most powerful functions of Facebook is the networking connections you can make with your Facebook Friends and through other interactions, such as in Facebook Groups, and your ability to reach out to your connections easily to ask for advice, help, or leads in your job search.
According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the average American has 634 ties in their overall network, and technology users have bigger networks. Your network consists of friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances. Most people have a handful of very close social connections and a much larger number of weaker ties. The larger your network of connections online, the more likely you’ll find the right person who has the information or connections you need to land your next career opportunity.
If you haven’t already, the first step is to build your Facebook network. If you use the Friend Finder tools you can start connecting with people you know. On the right-hand side of your News Feed page, below the “Ticker” and any events you may have (and birthday notifications), you’ll see a box for “People You May Know.”
Should You Friend Someone You Don’t Know Directly?
Unlike on LinkedIn, where the “rule” is that you must know someone to connect with them, Facebook is more like a big party where you can introduce yourself to someone directly. The more people you have in common, the more likely the target is to accept your Friend Request. Also, if you’ve set your privacy settings that at least some of your photos and content are public, it’s easy for the individual to learn a little bit about you before deciding whether to accept your Friend Request.
A good guideline is to first build your network with as many people as you know from “real life,” and then start expanding into direct contact with “friends of friends.” Don’t take it personally if you ask to connect with someone on Facebook and that request isn’t accepted. Some people limit their Facebook connections to their immediate family and friends, and don’t want to use Facebook for networking or job advancement.
Using Your Network
Once you’ve built your network (or as you’re building your network), you can begin using your Facebook profile for your job search. One of the best ways to do this is by using status updates and other content to advance your job search.
There are two ways to fulfill this — overtly and covertly.
If you are currently unemployed, or your job search isn’t a secret (your current boss and co-workers know you are searching for a new opportunity), an overt approach will yield the best results.
Share as much of your personal job search journey as you feel comfortable with in your status updates — sample posts:
You are searching for a new position:
 “They’re closing my office. I have 30 days to find my next job.”
What kind of job you’re looking for:
“Facebook friends: I’m looking for my next PR job in Colorado. Know anyone looking for a stellar pitchman with strong social media expertise?”
Request for assistance:
 “Does anyone know someone who works at Company X?”
Progress in your job search
“I have an interview today at my dream company — wish me luck!”
Posting once a day about job search-related topics in your status can keep your search at the top of your friends’ radar. (Remember, not everyone gets on Facebook every day, so if you only post once a week, you might be missing connection opportunities with some folks.)
The “covert” approach to job search is by using your Facebook Profile to establish yourself as a “thought leader” in your field. By posting professional content to your page — for example, links to interesting articles or resources, or videos or presentations you’ve delivered, work-related blog posts, or examples of your portfolio — you can become recognized for your work accomplishments.
The key with a “covert” approach is establishing a balance of personal and professional content posted. You don’t want your Facebook friends asking themselves, “Does she think this is LinkedIn?”
Whether you’re engaged in a covert or overt job search on Facebook, don’t forget that participation in work-related Groups can also raise your professional profile. You can even find virtual job search support groups on Facebook — search “Job Search” within Groups.