Thinking about 'friending' your boss on Facebook? You may wish to reconsider. According to a US survey released by Robert Half, nearly half of all employers revealed they were uncomfortable being 'friended' by the staff they manage (48%) or their bosses (47%) on social networking site, Facebook.

The Robert Half survey was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 150 randomly selected employers at the top 1,000 companies in the US.

Andrew Brushfield, director of Robert Half in Australia said, While not everyone is comfortable using social networking sites such as Facebook to connect with professional contacts, it is wise to be prepared for these types of requests.

Brushfield advises employees who use Facebook to familiarise themselves with privacy settings and create different friend lists to control how and with whom information is shared.

Although the results are based on a US survey, the Facebook phenomenon and its accompanying side effects are global with almost four million Facebook users in Australia alone.

While the majority use it for social networking, an increasing number of people are using it as a tool to engage in business-related activities including sales, marketing and networking. Employers should develop a code of conduct for social media use in order to avoid misunderstandings or situations that could affect working relationships, he said.

Following are some tricky Facebook situations commonly encountered and tips on how to handle them:

  • You are tagged in an embarrassing photo. Un-tag yourself and change your privacy settings so photos are viewable only by your close friends.
  • You are 'friended' by someone you do not want to connect with. It might be best to accept friend requests from colleagues to avoid slighting them, but add them to a work list and adjust your privacy settings so you can effectively separate your job from your personal life.
  • You are considering 'friending' your boss. It may seem like a natural extension of amiable office small talk, but think twice before proactively 'friending' your boss. It could become awkward for both of you.
  • You want to join various groups. You should join groups that interest you. But if you have colleagues in your network and do not want them to see the groups you join, remember to adjust your application settings.
  • You would like to be a fan of certain pages. Becoming a fan of pages on Facebook is visible to anyone who can view your profile, so you should avoid becoming a fan of any page you are uncomfortable sharing with colleagues or business contacts in your network.
  • You love quizzes. Stop and think for a moment before taking online quizzes and posting the results to your Facebook page, unless you want professional contacts to find out which 'Lost' character you most resemble or personal traits you would rather them not know.