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Thinking about social stuff and job search

So perhaps you saw that LinkedIn has updated/upgraded its job search functionality? They sent me an email inviting me to give it a whirl, so I did – and it got me to thinking about social stuff and job search.

First, LinkedIn: the job search is nice, and it’s something that they should have done a while ago – but better late than never. You can search, easily see who is related to or in the companies you discover, follow companies, save jobs and searches, and generally do the basic stuff you would expect a job search to do.

Ok, good enough. But where does the ‘social’ come in? It seems that LI is content at this point to simply show you who you know and what your degree of separation is. The catch is, sites like SimplyHired have been doing this with LI data for a while already. Services like StartWire take it even further by integrating data from Facebook, other job boards, and the job seeker’s personal activity. I’m sure LI has more rabbits up their collective sleeve – but for the time being, ‘social’ is pretty limited.

So what would a more social job search look like? Well, it probably helps to think about what makes anything social:

  • Friends /colleagues: if it’s just you on your lonesome, it ain’t social. You need some other folks to make it work.
  • Interaction: It isn’t a party if everyone is standing in different corners of the room. You need to step up, chat, and interact. Watching a movie together is social; playing a game is more social; and diving deep into conversation is most social, at least in my book.
  • Structure: Sure, completely random interactions with friends at odd times can be social – but interacting in a more structured way (like a game) or environment (like a party) can enhance your social enjoyment.
  • Discovery: Think of this as the ‘meet someone new’ factor. Sure, you can spend the rest of your life hanging out with your two best buddies from high school. But sooner or later you’ll be itching for some change. In other words, you can discover new potential friends in a social situation.

Facebook famously launched their social job search with very little regard to the above. LinkedIn comes a bit closer. But I don’t think we’ve yet seen a fully social job search service. Some are closer than others. Twitter is a platform/channel, not a job search tool – yet it’s a great place to connect with like-minded folks, interact in real time, and discover new stuff. Structure? Well, not so much. Facebook has potential – but it’s the WalMart of social networks and is perhaps too big and cumbersome to work efficiently for job seekers and employers.

Perhaps what’s coming are niche networks combining the interaction features of Facebook, the structure and discovery of LinkedIn, and the intimacy of a good dinner party or professional gathering. We see aspects of these in such sites as StackOverflow and Railyo. Geolocation could come into play here, as well as intelligent use of big data. And, of course, somewhere in there are the actual jobs (my eternal question: will job ads ever become innovative and involving?). Some would argue talent communities are the answer, but I don’t see it, given their focus on a single company.

Nonetheless, you know what? It sounds like evolution to me.

Have you seen a truly social job search? Tell me about it!

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