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Is Facebook the Next LinkedIn?

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LinkedIn stands apart from other social media sites, because it has staked out ground as the only true professional networking platform. With over 500 million users, the site has become a must for professionals who hope to be taken seriously – whether or not they’re currently seeking a new position.

It seems that Facebook has set its sights on claiming some of that territory now, and is currently testing a new feature that allows users to share more details about their professional skills and experience: a dedicated Resume section that will include dates for education and previous positions.

Based on screenshots taken by one user in the test group, it looks like the detailed information in the Resume section won’t appear with other data on your profile page. That interesting tidbit may indicate that the enhanced professional information will only be available to those looking to hire. It could even turn out to be a fee-based option.

In a predictably vague response to an inquiry by The Next Web asking when and if the Resume feature would become universally available, Facebook said:

“At Facebook, we’re always building and testing new products and services. We’re currently testing a work histories feature to continue to help people find and businesses hire for jobs on Facebook.”

There’s no way to tell at this point whether you’ll be able to share more about your work history and professional skill set on Facebook in the future, but the more important question may be: Would you want to?

When LinkedIn has already emerged as the go-to spot for job seekers and businesses looking to hire, does it make sense to muddy the more social waters of Facebook with your professional persona? Separating our work and personal lives allows a certain freedom to discuss politics, families, recreational activities and other decidedly non-professional topics. What if the person making hiring decisions at your dream firm doesn’t like cats (or cat pictures)?

That’s not to say social networking content can’t already hurt your career. It can, and everything you post on any site should be considered in terms of its potential ramifications for your professional life. But abandoning all effort at segmenting these two realms seems unwise.

There’s also the question of relative benefit. Five hundred million is a lot of users, and many of them have invested significant energy to develop and effectively utilize their networks. Are they likely to walk away in favor of the “LinkedIn Light” experience Facebook is poised to offer?

If the feature becomes widely available, it may be good news for some. There are plenty of people who spend time daily on Facebook but still resist the call to create a LinkedIn profile, or to actively maintain their presence on the platform even if they have made one.

Still, Facebook’s incipient foray into professional networking territory strikes me as too little, too late and too risky to be widely adopted by professionals who are serious about hiring or being hired. Then again, I could be wrong. If it’s anything, social media is unpredictable.

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Sarah Warlick

Sarah Warlick founded Proof Positive Content to provide professional service firms with high-quality content that resonates with their individual audiences. Sarah's writing appears in books, on dozens of firm websites and in Accounting Today, Social Media Today, various professional journals and other leading publications, but usually under another name. Ghostwriters rarely get the glory - their clients do!

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