Facebook Timeline

We’ve all heard about the potential pitfalls of having an open Facebook profile when looking for a job, with a brilliant interview seemingly easily ruined by unappealing photos, a status update about calling in sick when you’re really hungover, or fan page likes which do not fit in with the ethos of a company you are trying to join.

Facebook’s timeline rollout, which is due to happen this week, could leave users without a good understanding of their account security settings with a completely open profile – and one which stretches right back to the day they signed up for the site.

So what are the implications of this?

Writing on the Guardian’s work blog, Philip Landau points out that once Timeline has been enabled on your account, you have seven days to review all the information you have ever posted before it is set live.

“But this is a positive security step you need to take. The default position is that Timeline will lay bare your Facebook history,” he warns.

Even the most security conscious of all of us will have no doubt failed to make a couple of photo albums private, or forgotten to only show our status updates to a custom audience, but this can prove bad news if you are on the job hunt.

In January last year, figures released by Careerbuilder.co.uk found that 53 per cent of employers use social networking sites to carry out research into candidates. If you’ve recently applied for a job and your Twitter followers list has jumped one up, then your prospective boss might be one of the four per cent of employers who said they use the site to find out about job seekers.

Unsurprisingly, 12 per cent of employers use Facebook to check up on people looking for a position, with more than 40 per cent carrying out simple search engine queries to gather information.

There are two steps which can be taken here, Landau writes. Either swot up on your security and make sure your

Timeline is only available to your friends, or look on it as an opportunity to impress a potential boss.

“A candidate who comes across as shy and retiring at interview but is able to present their “real self” online could find this acts as an extended CV, especially if their blogs are well-written and show positive interests,” he points out.