Facebook Timeline: What Job Seekers & Employers Need to Know

Here it comes! The highly-anticipated (and feared) Facebook Timeline. If you haven’t already heard, Facebook’s latest design upgrade allows users to find content from several years in the past much easier.

The changes will include a chronological display of user information with a big emphasis on photos (any less-than-professional pics from your uni days flashing before your eyes?) The new design will also have a heavy focus on integrating apps into the “social graph” that will now be a user’s profile displaying the songs you have on repeat, the movies you’ve watched, the activities you love and more.

The overall focus is to give users more tools to express who they are to their online community — and anyone else their profile is open to (scared, yet?)

So, what does it all mean for Job Seekers and Employers?

Job Seekers – Time to Prune Your Profile

Facebook is giving users a head start before the upgrades go live, so that you have seven days to review your profile before your new boyfriend sees that loved-up picture of you and your ex-boyfriend as the page-wide, headline photo at the top of your profile.

Facebook will automatically create a profile out of the information available, then you can go through and hide or highlight anything you want. Then, go through your control settings to set who can and can’t see your information, posts, photos, etc.

The changes are certainly not all bad – there are some fun, new features like the ability to play music through your profile (Anyone getting a wave of MySpace nostalgia?) But as with any change, it will take some adjusting but more importantly it’s an all-too-important reminder to THINK BEFORE YOU POST!

It’s certainly not the first time you’ve heard it but because it can lead to some serious consequences it’s worth repeating. The virtual world has a memory like an elephant and Facebook’s new design is a flashing reminder of this fact. Just because you’ve forgotten about that vicious post about your old boss, boyfriend or BFF when you were less than cool, calm and collected, doesn’t mean Facebook and the online world has! Once it’s online, it’s like writing in indelible marker so be careful what you post, tag, like and check into (Remember that day you told your boss you were sick but you went to Big Day Out instead? Yeah, he’d be able to see that.)

Does it mean you have to completely neuter your online profile? No. Just be smart. If you’d be embarrassed for your grandmother or your boss to see it, delete and de-tag!

Like Facebook says, this is where you can tell your story from beginning, to middle, to now. What do you want your story to be?

Employers – Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Oh, how tempting! With the advent of social media and the eagerness people have in sharing the most inane and personal details about their lives on the world wide web, it’s a hiring manager’s dream to be able to find out who the person behind the CV really is before they offer them the job. But, don’t go forth without caution.

With the introduction of Facebook Timeline, you can find out even more about those candidates with juicy profiles but legal experts say the easier navigation shouldn’t be taken as an invitation to completely vet a candidate’s history because it can provide more downs than ups.

While having an inside peek into a candidate’s social networking profile is certainly going to give you more insight into their personal life, background, social circles, and so on, the underlying risk is a big anti-discrimination lawsuit that awaits if you reject a candidate based on information found.

The danger arises when the issues you find information that could be the basis of discrimination. And the scary thing is, even if it has nothing to do with your decision! If a rejected candidate can prove you used their Facebook profile in the recruitment process and they can link their sexuality, race, age or other attributes that could provide a basis for an anti-discrimination lawsuit, you’ll have a heap of trouble on your hands.

Workplace experts say just don’t do it. Resist the temptation and vet your candidates the old fashioned way.


With over 800 million active users throughout the world, Facebook is slowly introducing Timeline. Since it was first announced in September 2011, over a million people have signed up for the developer beta to access Timeline. The official roll out has started this month in New Zealand (the much-loved test bed for such changes) but Facebook Timeline will eventually go live for everyone, whether or not the user has taken the time to prune their profiles. So it’s best to be proactive and make sure what people will see is what you want to be seen.

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