Whether you want it to or not, Facebook is switching layouts again. Beginning in December 2011, users have had the option to switch over to the new timeline view, which replaces your profile and your wall with a reverse chronological virtual timeline of your life.
While the new layout was originally and still is optional, it will become mandatory for everybody at an undisclosed time in the next few weeks. The events begin when you started using Facebook, but the page dates back to your birth. Literally, everything you have ever done on Facebook is easily viewable for anybody who cares to look. For students, this can be both a good thing and a bad thing.
The beauty of a timeline is that it’s more user-friendly. Instead of comments and threads being interspersed around the page, it’s set up so every connection you make with a friend is right on the page. The new view is also more photo-centric, especially the large cover photo dominating the top of the screen. Some people say they don’t want to switch layouts, and they are sick of how often Facebook changes. This is a big change compared to the previous smaller, more incremental changes. The new layout is more people-oriented. It’s designed to feel like your own online scrapbook. The ease of accessibility to every post, as well as the nostalgia factor of being able to scroll back through those awkward middle school photos, is making the new layout a favorite.
Concerned about your profile automatically switching over anytime soon? Don’t be. Users will have a seven day “clean up” period before the new profile goes online. With the old version, it was much harder to find the posts and pictures from years ago. Users are going to get a temporary grace period to delete all of the things that were posted before Mom, Dad and Grandma got online.
This may be a smart thing for college students to do. Now that Facebook and social networking have become the standard for business connections, potential employers are much more likely to research a job candidate to make sure there are no skeletons in the closet before they hire.
Senior Oliver Housman said that while Facebook is a great way to connect with the younger demographic, employers will certainly use it as a background check.
“There’s a certain transparency to it, a lot easier to look back at a specific day,” Housman said.
He said that while the best way to make sure you’re safe rather than sorry is to not post anything inappropriate, but if that has already happened, keep the privacy settings for your page turned on.
“That way, your employer has to friend you to see everything, which gives you control of who sees what,” Housman added.
Having a Facebook page shouldn’t by any means hinder a job search and often can significantly help it. Meryl Irwin, visiting instructor of rhetoric, said that it can be used to help make connections for professional businesses or academia. She added that “the networking potential is very real” in fields such as public relations and marketing.
Having a Facebook and using it to research businesses and make professional contacts is a great way to prove yourself to be on the cutting edge of your field. You can show exactly how involved and proactive you are. Irwin said that there is also value in the recommended friends tab as a great way to meet people. Friend a colleague or employer, and several more related ones will pop up. It’s a great way to get your name out to some of the higher-ups that you might not ordinarily meet in person.
“It’s nice to have professional contacts in my field that I look up to.” Irwin said.