Business Columns & Blogs

In the Workplace: Facebook, LinkedIn and job hunting protocol

Diane Stafford is workplace columnist for The Kansas City Star.
Diane Stafford is workplace columnist for The Kansas City Star.

Q: Should I “friend” my boss on Facebook?

A: It depends whether your boss is a real friend, or maybe a relative. If your ties predate your employment, it’s likely your boss already knows quite a bit about your life. But if your relationship exists solely because of business, it might be prudent to keep at arm’s length on social media.

Instagram photos, Facebook posts and the like might damage your work reputation if your boss doesn’t think like you do politically or doesn’t approve of your weekend activities. Employers can always search your digital footprint, but you don’t need to spoon-feed them.

Q: Can my company demand that I include their logo or brand statement on my LinkedIn profile?

A: No. That site is yours to control. Of course, a boss who absolutely demands that could fire you (in certain circumstances) if you refuse. The choice is yours.

Q: Should I go to job fairs?

A: If you have a lot of time and have exhausted other recommended job-hunting techniques, there could be a benefit to handing your resume directly to a company representative, especially if you’re seeking entry-level positions.

Beyond that, there is slim chance it improves your hiring odds. Most job fair booths are paid for by large employers that have human resource offices. The people who staff such booths rarely are direct hiring managers.

You might make a good impression in face-to-face contact that could help your résumé or application rise to the top of the pile. But for professional-level jobs, you would do better to spend your time in direct contact with hiring managers at professional meetings.

Q: I’m supposed to do a video interview. Tips?

A: Some large public libraries have job-resource departments that can help with video interviews, as do college and university career offices. If you’re truly quaking, see if you can get a sample run-through. Professional career counselors also can help you practice for a fee.

Broad advice: Take care with your appearance. Treat your grooming and your choice of clothes as if you were doing an in-office interview.

Sit so that the video camera is at your eye level and look into the camera; don’t look at the computer screen. Try to maintain eye contact with the camera (and thus the interviewer) throughout the interview. Sit far enough away from the camera that the interviewer sees more than just your face and neck.

Fold your hands in your lap – or sit on them – so that gestures don’t take focus away from your words.

It’s fine to have notes to consult, if needed, but don’t riffle through papers. You could even tape notes to your computer screen or divide your screen to hold your notes in a digital file. But don’t read prepared comments; you want to look so prepared that you don’t need to consult notes.

Diane Stafford is a columnist for The Kansas City Star., 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford,