Gone are the days when university lecturers would take bright sparks aside, and suggest they may want to consider a secretive career serving their country.

The Secret Services have gone high-tech and are now, apparently, recruiting the spies of tomorrow through none other than Facebook.

MI6 has launched a series of online adverts this month in a bid to attract potential employees from a variety of backgrounds.

"A number of public channels are used to promote job opportunities in the organisation and Facebook is a recent example of this", a Foreign Office spokeswoman told The Guardian.

MI6 runs agencies in foreign countries and says it wants its officers to "reflect the society" they serve.

"There has been a very good response so far", added the spokeswoman.

The three ads pop up when Facebookers send messages to each other.

One reads: "Graduates of all ages can develop long-term careers as operational officers, collecting and analysing global intelligence".

The second is aimed at people already working but who are looking at a change in their career and says: "Time for a career change? MI6 can use your skills. Join us as an operational officer collecting and analysing global intelligence to protect the UK".

The last one appeals to potential applicants' sense of duty: "A career in world events? Help influence world events, protect the UK. Operational officer roles collecting and analysing global intelligence".

And we thought Facebook was just sending your mates silly messages and writing rude comments under other people's photos.