Private or Public: Quandary for job seekers & business owners

Photo by Rob Pongsajapan

Private or public? Social media created all kinds of new questions. Clients regularly wonder if they should be enter the world of social media or if they are already there, they wonder if they are going to be in trouble.

Q: “Should I be on LinkedIn? What if my employer sees me there?” My answer: If your employer is social media savvy at all, he will note that with 60 million+ users of LinkedIn, there are many who are not in job search mode. Some companies are encouraging their employees to have a LinkedIn presence. For sales professionals, it is a great way to build connections that could turn into relationships and then into future sales.  If you are in a different field than sales, it is still a great way to build and remember professional connections that are valuable later.

Q: Facebook is dangerous, isn’t it? My answer: Anything is dangerous if you use it the wrong way. If your Facebook presence reflects you and gives you a human side then there is no reason to worry about being on Facebook. I have had people say, “I just want family and friends connected to me on Facebook. I’m not professional there.”

I understand, but generally most people who want to connect with you on Facebook are already connected to you some other way. I have both a Julie Walraven Facebook page and a Design Resumes Facebook page. Most of the time, the Design Resumes page is purely professional, with job search tips, my blog posts, and other bloggers I enjoy and want to share. On the Julie Walraven page, you are more likely to hear about Teddy (our German Shepherd) or my garden or some other facet of my life.

Facebook is totally different than LinkedIn. Interaction feels natural there. It feels that way on both of my pages but even more on the Julie page. I’ve had great conversations there and some of those have led to real life lunches and interaction with people I first “met” on Facebook. Who knows, someone you are talking with on Facebook could hold the key to your next position. However, if I want to talk to someone on Facebook, I can use the message inbox to talk privately if I don’t want everyone to read what I am saying.

Q: OK, I can deal with LinkedIn and even Facebook, but this Twitter thing, who wants followers?” My answer: Like Facebook, there is a right way and a wrong way to use Twitter. You want to be strategic in who you connect with and in how you converse. Conversation is the key to Twitter. People who broadcast or put up a profile and say nothing will not find Twitter beneficial to them. However, if you learn the ropes, you will find yourself having a pretty good time meeting new people and gaining valuable connections.

On Twitter, you could set the privacy limits but then people have to jump through hoops to connect with you and most people won’t bother. Any social media tool you use only has value if you use it to build relationships.

When you think about private or public in your job search or using social media in your business, realize that you are in control of what you say where and weigh if the potential connections outweigh your privacy concerns.

What do you think?


  1. Christine Livingston on April 19, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Hi Julie,

    Really interesting post. I suspect there’s an element of matching what you do with what you’re trying to achieve. For businesses and for job seekers alike, I think the starting point needs to be, “What’s my strategy? What am I trying to achieve?” How you present yourself on any of these social media forums needs to reflect that.
    .-= Christine Livingston´s last blog ..The Challenges Of Doing What You Love And How To Overcome Them =-.

    • Julie Walraven on April 19, 2010 at 11:35 am

      You are right, Christine. I was thinking about the people who are afraid to be out there at all or the ones that think the goal is to broadcast and only talk about whatever their goal is. You and I both know that relationships are what matter on social media and in order to achieve that you have to be personable and friendly. I wouldn’t know you at all if you weren’t both.

  2. Jonathan on April 19, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Hi Julie-

    I wholeheartedly agree that all three sites you mentioned can add tremendous value to both job seekers and those looking to add more professional connections. As a social-media-savvy job seeker, I’m finding the connections and advice I’m gaining through the use of Facebook, LinkedIn, and (especially) Twitter are invaluable. I was so struck by the seemingly unlimited (pro-bono) resources available to me that I started a professional Twitter (@myhrjobsearch) and accompanying blog ( After a small amount of work, I’ve received several resume reviews and edits (thanks @thejobquest and @inscribeexpress), and a number of plugs for my blog, including a push today by one of the leading online recruiters (@CincyRecruiter). I’ve also been invited to an HR conference next month, attended by other social-media-aholics. I’m confident that with the right amount of patience, this will pay off with a wonderful job opportunity.

    I’m glad you pointed out the “Good way” versus “Bad way” to use FB, LI, and Twitter. That’s something that not enough people pay attention to when blending personal and professional lives.

    Keep up the great work!
    .-= Jonathan´s last blog ..The internet is a beautiful thing =-.

  3. Julie Walraven on April 19, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Thank you for the comments, Jonathan. I saw you in Melissa’s stream (TheJobQuest) last week. You are in good hands with her! She is both wonderful and knowledgeable. Jennifer McClure (@CincyRecruiter) is indeed a generous person and very knowledgeable.

    A great resume, combined with a strong social media and real life networking strategy is sure to land you on your feet quickly and I can tell you are having fun in the process.

  4. Melissa on April 19, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Jonathan and Julie: Thank you for those kind comments! Very unexpected 🙂

    This is an interesting topic — one that needs to be talked about more. Like so many things in life, a balance is needed with social media. If a person’s presence is all business (particularly on Facebook and Twitter), s/he has nothing that gives dimensions. Giving glimpses of personality and a life outside of work will draw people in. It just needs to be appropriately tempered.

    • Julie Walraven on April 19, 2010 at 1:33 pm

      exactly! If I talked about Teddy all day, you would never know I am a career professional who could help you with your job search. But on the other hand, if you only see Julie, the resume writer, you would see only a business and not the rest of me. I mix it up wherever I am… give or take LinkedIn which doesn’t quite lend itself to personality.

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