With the recent and ongoing changes to the structure and design of Facebook, students are quickly adapting to the ongoing collision between the personal and professional world, learning how to merge the two for their own advantage.
Now that employment history is both clearly linked to company pages and groups for individuals, the ever-decreasing gap between the professional platform and personal profile Facebook provides is more apparent than ever.
Now, users who list an employer that has a page on their profile have their profile linked to that page and have a list that shows news feed items from friends who also have that employer listed.
Executive director of the career center Carl Martellino said students need to edit their Facebook pages to use them as a networking tool.
“If you want to use Facebook more as a professional tool, you need to make it look more like your profile on LinkedIn because people are able to access your Facebook profile and make judgments about you,” Martellino said. “Who you are online, the profile you create on Facebook, is how you are going to be perceived, especially by employers seeking prospective candidates.”
Karen North, director of the Annenberg program in online communities, also said Facebook’s move toward integrating networking groups like LinkedIn and Twitter allows users to promote themselves professionally on their pages.
“Facebook has integrated these groups into the site, copying and integrating the tools these network groups use, including them in the site in order to … better meet the needs of [its] users,” North said.
Students said they have learned to embrace this closing gap between the professional and personal spheres.
John Tarver, a sophomore majoring in theatre, said Facebook’s changes self-propel its student users to show themselves in a professional light.
“Facebook is providing means to do so, the initiative and the drive [for students to market themselves],” Tarver said. “It is students saying, ‘I can use this to market myself.’”
Patrick Moynihan, a freshman majoring in theatre, said he created a Facebook specifically to network with potential employers.
“I’ve actually left my social Facebook behind and opened what’s basically a business Facebook account so that I could connect with people online in a professional context and keep up with people from various opportunities for professional networking,” Moynihan said.