In a very recent survey of nearly 1,500 undergraduates through the leading careers site, university students said that they really didn’t want to interact with employers on Facebook and they certainly didn’t want to share with them the more personal details of their lives.

This is against a background of huge Facebook use (only 5 per cent of the respondents had never used it) and the increasing use of social media by employers to promote their brand and engage with their future employees.

It’s an interesting picture as undergraduates say that they don’t have much of a problem with employers using social media to attract their interest and they have even less of an issue with receiving communications via Twitter and LinkedIn. But when it comes to Facebook, only 5.7 per cent completely embraced graduate employers using social media and would actively promote themselves on the employer’s channel.

There were two main reasons for their reluctance to share their social spaces with employers. First was a feeling that Facebook was a social network and much of the activity is naturally informal and not at all professional. Second was the privacy issue and the terrible thought of potential employers trawling through profiles for incriminating pictures of job applicants at play.
In undergraduates’ own words:

“I think interacting with potential employers over LinkedIn is fine because it is your projection of your professional self; however, such social networking sites as Facebook seem a bit intimidating as you would be unsure of how aware the company is of your personal life”.

“I’m fine with employers being active in social media; to be approachable. However I do not like them snooping on my private life”.

“Personally, I think that the best thing to do is to send emails with updating information rather communicating through the social networks because sometimes you need to separate your private space from your professional. I think it’s too much to combine everything together”.

Chris Phillips, Publishing Director of TARGETjobs who carried out the survey, said:

“Students spend large parts of their week on Facebook. Their future employers therefore have to target students in the online spaces that they inhabit so regularly and students are savvy enough to expect this – and they’re happy enough if it’s mostly about communication. What they don’t want is intrusion and interaction. It’s a personal not a professional medium.”