The Day I Deleted My Facebook Recruiting Account

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It’s the end of an era. Well, for my work-related Facebook account at least.

In 2008, my former company (a large, well known auto insurer) was in the early stages of developing its HR social media policy and presence. As we mapped out our strategy, we determined that any corporate recruiter interested in using Facebook — to recruit and serve as a talent ambassador — would create a separate work-related profile.

A few simple guidelines.

Before launching our Facebook initiative, HR worked closely with Legal to create social recruiting guidelines, which included some common sense reminders. There was also an overarching rule of thumb: don’t post anything that could be deemed controversial.

From there, more than 15 recruiters (me included) established new profiles in the spirit of representing our company in a talent acquisition capacity. Every week we shared job openings and glimpses inside our company, and each month we tracked and measured our performance.

One person, two accounts.

Having two Facebook accounts was easy … sort of like managing two email addresses. One for work and the other for home. Separate streams, each with a different audience, content and purpose. This approach made sense for several reasons:

  1. It was obvious to job seekers who to connect with from the company.

  2. When sourcing candidates, it was clear that we were legitimate company representatives.

  3. When engaging our university contacts, it was evident who we were and who we represented.
  4. My corporate credit card was tied to my work account, from which I managed the company’s employer branded Facebook page and pay per click campaigns.

  5. We could cross-promote our recruiters’ profiles from the corporate career site and other branded social channels.

  6. During virtual career fairs that we hosted on Facebook, job seekers could easily and quickly friend and chat with designated recruiters.

While some industry peers disagreed with this approach, it worked for us. For me. My “personal” Facebook profile was on lock down, and used exclusively to stay in touch with 100 or so friends and family. The other account was public and comprised of roughly 600 friends. From that work profile, I connected with anyone and everyone, and proudly shared company and career-related content. My cover photo was even employer-branded and I included “-Company Recruiting” as part of my name to differentiate the two profiles.

Via that work account, crazy happened. And not just to me, but to others on my team as well. Random people asking for random things. Inappropriate photo tags. Creepy messages. Rarely did I post about my personal life from the work account.

During the six years that I maintained two accounts, I was grateful that “stuff” was not associated with my personal profile and that I didn’t have to tend to it during non-work hours. [You can read more on Fistful of Talent about my so-called double life on Facebook.]

My approach to Facebook is changing.

In late May, I accepted a position with a new organization. This meant that I would need to delete my work profile, transition some of my work contacts to friends and acquaintances, and downsize my Facebook presence to one account. “I figured something was up when I got the new friend request,” wrote a colleague when I sent him a request to connect from my personal account.

So far, I have noticed five major changes as a result of my new approach; I am:

  • Letting acquaintances in more,

  • No longer “open connecting”,

  • Seeing more updates from my HR-world than lifelong friends,

  • Posting less photos of my family, and

  • More mindful of what I share and with whom.

Of these, the biggest changes have been the transition to connecting with colleagues and offering deeper insights into my personal life. Currently, I am up to 300 friends and have added an option to “follow” me for public updates. All in all, this was a relatively easy change to make, but still one that is taking some getting used to.

One or two, is more better?

As I think about starting my new position, I’ve begun to think about how to best help my new company build its social recruiting strategy. Certainly, Facebook will be a part of the conversation and this question keeps coming to mind: Would I continue to recommend two separate accounts for corporate recruiters? It’s an interesting debate.

What would you do? How are you currently managing your corporate Facebook recruiting presence? Are you a recruiter with two accounts?

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Comments

  1. Managing dual identities can work, but the way you guys did it is risky. Facebook TOS restricts users from maintaining 2 profiles and have been known to shut down one of your profiles without notice if they detect a violation. There’s no telling which one they’ll delete, and there’s no undoing it once it’s been done. That said, you are permitted to establish a Facebook Page for yourself as a public figure, which is my recommended best practice for achieving your stated objective in compliance with FB’s rules and regs. Hope that’s helpful. Also, I’d be mighty grateful for a chance to review those social recruiting guidelines that you created with your legal dept. at your prior gig, if you’re at liberty to share. 😉

    Reply
    • Hi Eric – Thank you for taking interest enough to read and provide such a thoughtful response to my article. I’ve never really thought of myself as a “public figure” – so we’ll see how one FB page works out for me. 🙂

      In the FB TOS, they specifically say “You will not create more than one personal account.” If someone is using an account specifically with the intent and purpose to represent his/her company solely for work-related activities, do you think that profile would violate the TOS? (Not being snarky … I’m genuinely interested in your thoughts on this!)
      And, not sure I can share the guidelines, but I’m happy to chat social media and social recruiting anytime.

      Best,
      Shannon

      Shannon |
      Reply
  2. Shannon,

    Are you trying to personally kill one of my great presentations on social recruiting, in which I highlight you and your FB profiles to HR ladies as ‘the’ way to recruit on FB!?!? 🙂

    I always have thought that what you did with two profiles was a great compromise for those people who didn’t want to just have one life personal and professional on FB. I have a number of younger female recruiters working for me, who find the same thing you did – the creepers can come out and it’s uncomfortable for many. So, I always like to show people two options of how to set yourself up as a recruiter on FB and two profiles is very doable (as you know)!

    T

    Reply
    • Hey Tim – I knew I should have called you first! Never fear, there are plenty of other Geckos who are using two profiles (my dear friend Jeannie Toscano would be a good example). And, THANKS for sharing my profiles all these years. – Shannon

      Shannon |
      Reply
  3. Shannon,

    I’m so glad you wrote about this. I saw you present a couple years ago at a conference and everyone in the room filled with recruiters and employment branding folks perked up. Clearly, everyone in the room had been challenged with the same thing, boundaries.

    I remember thinking that it was weird that SHRM had requirements to make their users have a separate and personal account, but looking back it is a good thing for some companies. You have a high level of visibility and having two accounts allows you to engage job seekers directly but maintaining some security for you and your family.

    I struggle with sometimes oversharing and my Facebook is a mess of personal and professional contacts. If I’m using my computer, I use lists to help separate and distribute messaging. My challenge is that it doesn’t work on my mobile device.

    Great post. Can’t wait to see what you write about next.

    Jessica

    Reply
    • Thanks, JMM for encouraging me to write about this! – SS

      Shannon |
      Reply

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