Professional Facebook Stalkers? A New Study on Gen Y

We all know your Facebook isn’t where you’re sending employers looking for more information during the job hunt, but a recent study claims we may be using the platform “inadvertently as an extension of our professional selves.”

The report by Millennial Branding LLC (a full-service personal branding agency located in Boston) and (an analytics firm that mines social-media websites) of about 4 million Gen Y profiles mostly in the U.S., shows that we have an average of 16 co-workers in our friend group, despite 64% of surveyed users failing to list their actual employer on their profile.

The study has found that we’re more inclined to define ourselves by our school affiliations, with about 80% of reviewed profiles naming at least one high school or college. However, this may just be a natural byproduct of the fact that Facebook was originally geared towards connecting college students, says Dan Schawbel of Millennial Branding LLC.

Millennial also found that the top Gen Y jobs fell in travel and hospitality, consumer products, and government or military, the largest employers being the U.S. military, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Starbucks Corp.

One of the more interesting findings stated “Owner” was the fifth most popular title listed in profiles reviewed, and only 7% of the young adults studied worked at Fortune 500 companies. The following top jobs included:

  • Servers
  • Managers
  • Interns
  • Sales Associate
  • Owner

OK, now let me paint you the picture I get from this data.

Jeff Bullas put it perfectly in a recent blog post, “LinkedIn is the social networkings equivalent of the cocktail party while Facebook is the backyard barbecue.” I can see in this data the mass movement of people to define their professional lives on other sites, abandoning the work on their “Info” sections of Facebook. I know my Facebook still claims I’m a “tutor,” so I can see some truth to the statistics.

The average of 16 coworkers falls within an average of 696 friends, making that 2% of your friend base. Saying that we’re defining ourselves professionally on Facebook by friending our coworkers may be inaccurate.

Is this a risky move? Are we putting our jobs in jeopardy? Being as we’ve grown up now with years of the ill-fated keg-stand-picture-lost-me-my-life type stories, I hope not! And there are privacy settings and Mark Zuckerberg interviews that scream “BLOCK THESE PHOTOS!”

The coworkers we’re friending have hopefully become just that: friends. Friends we can trust, and if not, see privacy setting statement above.

With the average Millennial spending just over two years at their first job, according to Schawbel, I can see why the majority of us define ourselves by what college we attended. Also, look at our demographic: 18-30 years old puts a good portion of our age group still in the golden college years, or in the transitionary period into the workforce. Is this a valid statement?

While we are toted as being the Facebook generation, we’re forgetting all of the people in our generation who aren’t signed up on Facebook (yes, they exist) or don’t have internet access. Granted, that’s not what this study was meant for, but keep this mind when evaluating insight into an entire demographic.

As for the top employers of Gen Y, the survey says 36% of people list a job title on their profile. Do you feel this is true? Of course, I can see the post-grad millennial picking up a server job or fetching coffee at Starbucks to help bridge the money gap between jobs, but there’s more to the story than we can see here.

As for “Owners” being a top five job title: you go Gen Y. 2012 may just be The Year of the Entrepreneur, so let’s make it happen. Then we can have statistics that really knock your socks off.

Thoughts? Comments? Opinions? Tell us below!

Editor’s Note: In the interest of full disclosure and transparency, I’ll note that Angela Diaco interned for Millennial Branding LLC in the Fall of 2011. All opinions presented here are my own, and do not necessarily reflect that of TNGG or Millennial.

Photos by Sean McEntee & Keith Deaner.

Angela Diaco Media & Culture major at Bentley University. Interested in learning as much as possible about film production, writing, PR/Marcom, entrepreneurship, and social media.

View all posts by Angela Diaco

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