Thursday, June 16, 2011

Branching out from LinkedIn...

There are two assumptions that we should address in regard to using social media in the job search:
  1. Not all job seekers feel as if they have an adequate professional network or work experience for LinkedIn.
  2. Utilizing a Facebook job app in the job search is not necessarily detrimental.

A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to interview a recent graduate concerning social media use and the job hunt.  She had received her undergrad degree in 2010 and had just completed her first full year of work.  When asked about her LinkedIn usage, she said that people in her age group usually do not feel at home on LinkedIn.  They view LinkedIn as a network for people who have been out in the work force, have proven themselves, have secured recommendations, and have connected with other professionals.  Instead of LinkedIn, many prefer to use Facebook to connect with family, friends, and other acquaintances.  This brings us to the topic of Facebook.

Since most college students and recent grads have a Facebook network, why should they not use this network in a job search?  Probably one of the largest hesitations – at least from some university career staff – has been the fear that what is on Facebook will find its way to the employer if a student utilizes a Facebook job app.  This is not necessarily so.  Chances are that a Google search will turn up more detrimental information than any social media job apps that utilize LinkedIn or Facebook information.

There is no better fail safe for a social network user than awareness.  Any social network can be abused, and we certainly should always be aware of what an internet search might reveal.  It is incumbent upon every user to manage his or her online reputation.  In addition, privacy settings must be controlled and actively monitored for any changes that might be made in the network such as Facebook’s recent facial recognition ability.  That said, we must also be aware of how applications might use our personal information. 

I had the pleasure of speaking with the marketing manager at BranchOut earlier this week. We discussed the advantages inherent in our Facebook contacts and the social media practices of recent college grads.  Further, he explained how BranchOut works and alleviated my concerns about what it can access.  He also provided a list of  universities that are utilizing the application and a privacy information link.

BranchOut is a job search application that will import the user’s professional information from LinkedIn but matches Facebook contacts with available positions for the actual job search.  The application also has some interesting Facebook-type abilities that might appeal to a certain demographic along with the ability to connect with others without “friending” them.  BranchOut only captures work and friend information.  It does not capture status information or photographs.  Read more about BranchOut privacy here and review their video introduction below.  

More startups are realizing the value of using Facebook contacts in the job search.  The Wall Street Journal mentioned some of them, including BranchOut, in their May 30, 2011 article entitled Start-Ups Tag Facebook for Career Networking.  So, with startups entering this space, how long will it be before companies do the same in earnest?  Some believe that personal contacts are just as viable as professional contacts, if not more so, in the job search.

In conclusion, Facebook is the social media space where younger adults maintain most of their social network.  In addition, other adults maintain their closer, more personal associations there.  This leaves us with some compelling questions.  1) Who is most likely to be of assistance in the job search, personal or professional contacts?  2) Could the utilization of Facebook contacts enhance the job search?  The answer may be different between job seekers.  As such, we are curious as to your thoughts, so please take a moment to provide your feedback on Facebook job search apps at this link.


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