By Juan Urdiales
They are using the social media giant to gain ground professionally. Some are using the banner image on their timeline to show off their employment experience- thus converting their personal profile into a social CV. Others have used status updates as a sort of help offered ad; announcing to friends that they are recently out of work and would appreciate any leads. Even more useful are Facebook applications and websites specifically designed to help job seekers use the social network to advance their career.
While you may know everyone you are friends with on Facebook, you don’t necessarily know or remember where each person works; and, you definitely don’t know where each of their friends works. Which is where a new generation of apps and websites are stepping in, to leverage that information and those connections to your job-hunting advantage.
One of these apps is our very own jobandtalent, a professional networking site that we have just launched in the UK following success in Spain. Founded on the principle, ´´with a little help from my friends,´´ the app allows users to see where they have inside Facebook connections while applying to job openings from more than 1,700 different employers. This gives them the chance to obtain valuable recommendations, inside tips, and to demonstrate their connectedness to the companies where they are looking to get hired.
These types of tools are not only a bonus for the candidate but also the recruiter, as they can see the professional details of Facebook friends of registered candidates, enabling them to reach the all-important “passive” jobseeker market – the people not currently looking but who might prove ideal for their company. And don’t worry, using a tool like jobandtalent only allows your professional resume to be accessed, not the details of which football team you are fanatical about or those embarrassing snaps of you and your friends looking a little the worse for wear outside a Wetherspoon’s on a school night – you remain in control of your privacy settings.
Now reaching over 900 million users, Facebook has the potential to reinvent recruiting. Once a sector that was based on the help wanted ads in newspapers and then later moved online with websites such as CareerBuilder and Monster, recruiters have just begun to discover the power of sourcing talent using social media. With one in five users on Facebook adding academic and professional information to their profiles, recruiters (combined with tools/apps that protect users’ personal information) are able to identify potential candidates that may or may not be job searching. Many companies – such as Starbucks and L’Oréal – have migrated their recruitment pages from the company website to a Facebook page dedicated specifically to showcasing career opportunities. Although many recruiters are still a bit wary of the protocols in this new territory, the trend seems to be growing and with more candidates mining Facebook for jobs, companies are starting to investigate how they can also get involved.
Although Facebook is the largest and most far reaching right now, it is not alone in tapping into career development on social networks. Recruiters and jobseekers alike have started to use Twitter to recruit and be recruited, using hash tags to prioritise and target their searches. Job seekers have been preparing their profiles to show interests in different sectors, articles, and movements. Twitter users can demonstrate their interests to a future employer by the type of articles and posts they have been sharing. Many users have also utilised the brief character space in their profiles to promote personal achievements such as, “PHD Philosophy Grad available for new career opp.” Recruiters can both advertise jobs in tweets as well as search for candidates who have made their profiles optimal for recruitment purposes. The challenge (or drawback) of Twitter is that is gives both employers and candidates a chance to be creative in a high-paced and limited character set.
LinkedIn may have been the traditional choice for companies hiring directly, and many recruiters still swear by it, but it has only around 160 million members. Facebook is not only the fastest growing social network but users typically sign in every day, while LinkedIn users sign in on average once a month. The average age of LinkedIn users is 44, while 60 percent of Facebook users are under 30. This allows companies to connect with a larger and younger job-seeker demographic via Facebook. It’s also tough for graduates and those relatively new to the jobs market, with little experience and few work contacts, to get established on LinkedIn.
What Facebook offers (and where Twitter, for example, falls short) is the possibility to harness personal relationships. Facebook friends consist of old school mates, close professors, cousins, second cousins, old roommates, work colleagues – people who form part of a user’s life in one way or another. These are also the friends who you would most trust to ask a favour, for example to make a job referral. Think about it – if you had a job interview this week and you had to ask a friend for a referral – is that someone who forms part of your community?
The common belief that your social network and professional sphere should be separated is quickly fading. This does not mean anxious job seekers should be sacrificing their privacy in order to get hired. It does mean however that users need to get informed on how to use the appropriate tools and apps to leverage social contacts professionally. Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool and one that is not only advantageous for shareholders and advertisers but also for those of us out there who could really use a break.
About the author
jobandtalent’s Juan Urdiales is a 31-year-old Spanish internet entrepreneur who launched the service in Madrid in 2009 with co-founder and co-CEO Felipe Navío, now aged 28. Newly established in the UK with a base at London’s Moorgate, it is online at http://www.jobandtalent.com and about to expand into other countries in Europe, including Germany.