You friend your family, acquaintances and even high school rivals but should you friend your boss on Facebook? Social networks have changed the way we communicate, share information and even find a job. But even if we don’t think twice about accepting friend requests from every person we went to high school with, when it comes to adding your boss you’ll need to be a little more judicious.
“You have to ask yourself what kind of relationship you have with your boss,” says career coach Dorothy Tannahill Moran. “Do you really want to go there in terms of potentially over exposing your personal life to the person whose job it is to assess you and make big decisions about you?”
Keep it Clean
If your Facebook profile is innocent and doesn’t present yourself in a bad light then it may not hurt to friend your boss. According to Tannahill Moran, it is ok to have photos of your family or friends but keep your personal life to a minimum. For instance Tannahill Moran only has a professional photo on her Facebook page and isn’t posting constant personal missives. Instead she’ll include blog entries and updates to her professional life. “I don’t have picture of me in a bathing suit or things like that,” says Tannahill Moran.
Keep in mind if you do friend your boss he or she will know when you’re on Facebook and can regularly see your posts. Not to mention if other Facebook friends put up questionable photos of you or make unprofessional comments your boss will be able to see them as well. “There’s nothing to stop your friends from tagging you or putting out information,” says career coach David Couper.
If, on-the-other-hand your Facebook profile is a road map to your social life, the good, the bad and the ugly and/or you express views that you would want to keep out of the workplace, then friending your boss or co-workers for that matter may not be a good idea. After all you don’t want your boss seeing you have a hangover every Monday or really hate the career you’ve chosen. “Why put yourself in a position that can stop yourself from being promoted or even getting fired,” says Couper.
Ignore the Friend Request
If you are against friending your boss, you’ll have to figure out a way to ignore the request without offending him or her. Career experts say the best strategy: pretend it never happened.
“I would just plain ignore it and hope it goes away,” says Susan Heathfield, the guide to human resources for About.com. “Ignoring it sends the message you don’t want to be a friend on Facebook.” Often times when people are sending out friend requests they are doing it automatically to an entire address book or contact list. So there’s a good chance your boss won’t even realize he or she asked you to be a friend.
But if your boss persists and wants to know why you ignored the friend request, then you can either politely explain that you use Facebook only for your immediate family and friends or point them to your LinkedIn or Google+ page if you have one. With Google+ you have the ability to create different circles giving access to only certain areas of your online life.
At the end of the day most bosses know better than to hound you about a friend request that went unanswered. Many companies even have policies on the books specifically about conduct when it comes to social networks. That’s why in the case of friending your boss, inaction is the best action.