Career Advice: Facebook’s Timeline

If you are like me, you are on Facebook, but you don’t go there very often. If that is the case, you should read this article with care!

In early February 2012, all Facebook users were put on the “Timeline”, a visual representation of all of the Facebook activity that you have ever posted since joining Facebook. This visualization replaces the old “stacked” view, where the posts would crawl down the page until they were off the screen and you had to keep clicking the “More Posts” button to see older information.

The Timeline is quite attractive and makes it easy to see all your post without having to scroll through pages of posts – it is like flipping through a picture-book of your past posts, which may be a pleasant way for someone to spend some time getting to know you…including current or potential employers.

I found that most of the posts that I had previously hidden were now visible again, not that I had a lot to worry about, but nevertheless, I had to review everything and reset what can and cannot be seen. You can set visibility on a post-by-post basis, or on an overall basis. I chose the post-by-post basis – it allowed me to tell a story about me, but limit posts that were either repetitive or frivolous. I also limited who could see when I added my friends.

Facebook’s “thing” is sharing – it is in the chat and sharing business, so it wants everything to be out there. Some have raised privacy concerns, others feel pushed around by Facebook, but that is a subject for other discussions. Timeline is here and you should deal with the implications for you.

The Harvard Business Review’s post (http://blogs.hbr.org/samuel/2011/09/facebooks-timeline-will-impact.html) is a good read for those who want to understand the impact on careers a bit more. The HBR notes that Timeline tells a more compelling and readable story about you, and that the boundary between personal and professional life (was it ever there, really?) is blurred or even removed.

The advice is clear – know what story you want to tell about yourself (or at least what stories you don’t want told!), then review your Facebook posts and set security accordingly – to tell the story you want told!

On your page, click on the activity log and you can select which individual posts to hide, or go to your security settings and set an overall rule for who can see what. Some more advice and information is available at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2393464,00.asp.

It takes time to set the review your posts and set the security you want, but as an employee, or a potential employee, you can either let your past posts tell their own story, or make changes that tell the story you want told. And if you are the boss, your employees may see a whole other side of you!

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