In the December 4, 2012 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a writer wonders about “social job hunting” on LinkedIn and Facebook. Is this a good new thing?
LinkedIn has recently expanded its job search functionalities. Facebook is also planning a job portal. What do you think about them? Do you see any value in linking job postings with personal social networks?
Filtering job openings using connections to people instead of keywords might give fresh ideas about where to work. An example of a simple filter: “Find openings where at least one of my contacts is working for that company.” If the search returns something interesting, there’s already an existing personal connection to someone who can help in the next step, which is finding out what the company is doing and whether it is the right one to apply for.
Do you think this topic would be worth an article in your newsletter or in your blog?
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It’s the three stooges of job boards. They’re all dopes. Compare the pitches. You’d never tell one from the other except for its name. LinkedIn sold out “relationships” for “jobs” when it launched its button.
These are database companies
I’ve been watching the moves by social sites into the jobs business. While at first glance it seems a natural thing for them to do, I think it’s more expedient than smart. They’re trying to find ways to generate revenue from their databases, and job boards are easy to add to any database model.
What LinkedIn and other social networks are avoiding is what’s far more challenging: adding more and better “social” to their models.
I think it would be more compelling for LinkedIn to use its social network to promote social behaviors that lead to job connections — without turning into yet another keyword-matching business. But it’s not.
I really haven’t seen anything smart come out of LinkedIn’s move. If anything, LinkedIn is now regarded as “the job board companies use.” Stealing Monster’s customers is an accomplishment, but hardly an innovation.
Sidetracked: LinkedIn turns to telemarketing job ads
LinkedIn had great potential to be so much more. Then the company went off on a side track that leads nowhere.
LinkedIn wisely hired some world-class “relationship builders” from top companies and paid them salaries to create a robust social-networking approach to careers. Then LinkedIn suddenly instituted a sales-quota compensation system — and told them to dial for dollars. A new management team hired telemarketers straight out of a sales boiler room (a job board) and booted the people who might have done something revolutionary. The new crew could be working at TheLadders, selling job postings.
Don’t limit yourself to links
That said, I think there’s tremendous potential here. Your idea of exploiting “links” to pursue jobs is a good one. But what concerns me is the premise: Asking the database for job openings where you know someone.
While it’s one logical avenue to follow, isn’t it incredibly limiting? This use of LinkedIn focuses on the low-hanging fruit — people you already know. In his book, Six Degrees, applied mathematician Duncan Watts shows that the most productive nodes in a network are the ones on the outer edge — in this case, people you haven’t met yet. On LinkedIn, there’s a great tendency to chase down nodes (database results) — and no compelling tools that actually foster new relationships on the edges of networks. (LinkedIn Groups are nice, but big deal. Yahoo! has those, too.)
The Zen of job hunting: Meet the people who do the work
My advice to job hunters is to “go hang out with people who do the work you want to do.” The object is not to link. (That’s too easy.) The object is to have shared experiences, so others can teach and judge you — and lead you to opportunities with others in their circles. You don’t need LinkedIn to do this, but it would have been a brilliant direction for the company.
So, maybe a smarter way to use LinkedIn is a Zen kind of approach. Don’t go searching for jobs through people you already know (your contacts). Go to the groups that are talking about the work you want to do. Go to the work. And meet totally new people. Make sense? Why limit yourself to where your friends work? Go to where you want to work and make new friends — who will get you in the door. This takes a lot more effort and probably more time, but I think you need to be clear about your goal — the work you want. Just don’t expect LinkedIn to help you with this Zen approach; LinkedIn is too busy counting job postings.
LinkedIn: Just another job board
I’d love to see LinkedIn get past “the database” and start thinking about how to foster experiences between its members. But LinkedIn’s myopia is seen clearly on its home page: It defines itself as a job board. Just read this claptrap from the leading “business network”:
Reach top talent with premium access: Find and engage passive candidates with premium search, full profile visibility, and best-in-class pipeline tools.
Gimme a break. LinkedIn is a job board and the world’s biggest resume repository. It can do far better.
As for Facebook’s foray into the job board business, can you spell ZYNGA?
How do you use LinkedIn? Is it just a fancy phonebook or rolodex? (I contend that’s all it is.) If you could take over LinkedIn, how would you change it, to make it a more productive tool for working with others? Join us on the blog with your ideas — or just to slap me around if you disagree.