A new study shows that an employee’s Facebook profile can accurately predict his or her job performance.

Now before you frantically untag all those shots of you doing keg stands and ice luges, keep in mind that it’s much more complicated than simply having a sparkling non-alcoholic profile.

Researchers from Northern Illinois University, the University of Evansville, and Auburn University found correlations between personality indicators found on Facebook profiles and the results of performance evaluations conducted six months later.

For example, if you have lots of Facebook friends, that may indicates openness and extroversion, which can later manifest itself in the workplace.

Essentially, the study is a spin on the old “employers check your Facebook profile” story, except with less emphasis on party pics and more on overall character.

Or, as Don Kluemper, one of the authors of the story told Mashable, “I don’t think a picture of someone holding a beer adversely affected them, but [a picture of you] being drunk in a ditch somewhere might be a negative.”

The study also raises some interesting questions about the potential legal complications of using Facebook profiles to evaluate job candidates:

“Although some employers might attempt to focus on job-related social networking information, there is also non-job-relevant information that could be used inappropriately for evaluating applicants, resulting in biased hiring decisions. During a job interview, an employer may avoid asking questions regarding race, religion, sexual preference, or marital status because of potential legal issues. However, such information may be posted or obvious in an SNW (social networking website).”

Nevertheless, applicants shouldn’t expect employers to stop using public information on the Web to evaluate candidates. So after excising all those pictures of you drunk in a ditch, better change your Timeline picture to one where you’re hanging out in Italy on that Study Abroad trip. Start friending everyone you’ve ever known since preschool to show what a charmer you are. And if Jackass 3D is on your list of liked movies—well, we’d tell you to change that, but it’s probably too late to help you.

Photo by stuartconner