Whether you're looking for a job or already have one, there's one thing you can be sure of: It's not just your Facebook "friends" who are looking at your social media profile.
Those doing the hiring freely admit they search potential job candidates' Facebook profiles and if you think your current co-workers, employees or boss aren't stopping in for an undetected peek at your profile every so often, you're deluding yourself.
Even if you think you're careful about your Facebook security, very few profiles are truly off-limits, especially if you've friended a few of your co-workers along the way.
"So what?" you think. "There's nothing on my Facebook profile that I'm ashamed of." Are you sure? You might be surprised how much of what's on your Facebook page is inappropriate for work. Here are just a few of the things you're revealing about yourself that you might not have considered.
Your age– Even if you didn't use your real age when you signed up for Facebook, it's pretty easy to figure out. Mentions of your high school reunion, your favorite bands (Hall and Oates reunion tour, anyone?) or your third-grade class photo (look at those bell bottoms!) will surely give you away. You'd never dream of putting your age on your resume, so why give a potential employer the chance to rule you out before even meeting you?
Your political beliefs– Anyone with a little common sense knows that talking politics at work is a bad idea, but anyone checking out your Facebook page could probably pretty easily figure out where you stand. Maybe you innocently "liked" a politician's Facebook page, made a donation to a political campaign or signed an online petition. Lately, it's very hard to predict when that information is going to pop up on your Facebook page. Worse yet, do you really want your boss reading your lunatic brother-in-law's survivalist rants or your cousin's "legalize marijuana" posts. I think not.
Your personal life– What's the point of putting on a power suit for work if everyone in your office can see photos of you in your pajamas on Christmas morning on your Facebook page? Do you really want anyone in your professional life to know that you've gained 30 pounds over the last five years (those wedding photos reveal a lot) or that your friends are chronically trying to fix you up with people? Too much personal information will make anyone look less than professional.
Your childhood– Yes, your Davy Crockett coonskin cap was adorable … when you were 8. And those photos your mom keeps posting of you as a kid in the bathtub are cute, too. And, while they're not exactly blackmail material, there's little doubt they'll help undermine your efforts to command much respect around the office.
Your religious beliefs – What you believe is no one else's business. But, that doesn't mean they won't hold it against you. If you've "liked" your church's Facebook page or are posting about the next B'nai B'rith bake sale, you might want to think again. It may not be right, but people will project their opinions about religion on you whether you like it or not. Be sure you're ready to deal with it.
You work alliances – Even if you think you're good at playing office politics, odds are your Facebook page tells the real truth about who you like and who you don't.
Simply "friending" some people in the office and not others is enough to provide digital grist for the office gossip mill. Be smart and keep your personal friendships personal.
Jeanette Mulvey has been writing about business for more than 20 years."Mind Your Business" appears on BusinessNewsDaily every Monday. Follow Jeanette Mulvey on Twitter @jeanettebnd or BusinessNewsDaily @BNDarticles. We're also on Facebook & Google+.