When it comes to Facebook, new research shows young people might be able to give themselves a leg up in their job hunt based on how they describe themselves in their social media profile and with whom they connect.

A study of Generation Y Facebook profiles by branding agency Millennial Branding found that even though those between the ages of 18 and 29 are using Facebook for personal use, the social media network actually ends up being an extension of their professional personality because many of their social media contacts are also co-workers or professional contacts.

In addition, those who describe themselves as business owners or entrepreneurs are more likely to get the attention of potential employers.

The study found that "owner" is the fifth most popular job title listed on the Facebook profiles of the Gen Y folks surveyed. Describing oneself as a business owner, the study also found, can help attract employers' attention.

Even if their companies don't succeed, large corporations looking to attract the younger employees are attracted to candidates with entrepreneurial skills. And while only 7 percent of Gen Y employees are currently working for Fortune 500 companies, attracting a younger workforce will be critical for larger corporations looking to secure their long-term success, according to the study.

Cautious approach

There is also, of course, a downside to Facebook's power in the professional space.

With plenty of recent examples of Facebook costing someone their job, Millennial Branding founder Dan Schawbel said it's critical for young people to be cognizant of the online image they are portraying.

"Gen Y needs to be aware that what they publish online can come back to haunt them in the workplace," Schawbel said. "Gen Y's managers and co-workers have insight into their social lives, which could create an awkward workplace setting or even result in a termination."

Other major findings in the study include:

  • Gen Y employees spend an average of just over two years at their first job and are job-hopping multiple times in their careers.
  • The travel and hospitality industry is hiring the most Gen Y candidates now, because young people who are having trouble getting internships and jobs are turning to bartending and waitressing jobs.
  • The U.S. military is the largest Gen Y employer overall, and Deloitte is the largest corporate employer.

The study was based on research of 4 million Gen Y Facebook profiles from Identified.com's database of 50 million users.

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