I will admit openly that I am in the midst of a job search, but this looked to be the perfect moment to take some time and figure out the best way to integrate new modes of seeking out your career through the vast, interconnected tubes of the internet. I will also admit, I am in the midst of this search; so, none of what I am describing has yet worked for me. I will post an update, should the need arise.
Of course, most of us have heard of the job searching megaliths of Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, TheLadders.com, and their ilk. I don’t actually know anyone who has had much luck with these sites, and I am sure resumes and applications sent to these firms are actually used to stave off the unending appetite of some kind of job-search black hole, keeping the denizens of the recruiting community safe from oblivion for one more peaceful day. In truth, the recruiting industry is worth a significant chunk of change, and the recent IPO of LinkedIn stands as a testament to the unbelievable amount of money investors believe their space in the market is worth. LinkedIn is a relative newcomer to the online career search market, as compared to Monster.com and its founding in the 1990s, but the successful integration of social networking into the LinkedIn model has made them stand out against the back drop of the established firms in the market space.
Social recruitment, or rather recruiting using social networking and social media models, seems to be the current arms race in online recruiting, with the San Francisco Chronicle reporting on this past Friday regarding several firms with new and interesting ways to get their share of the investment goldmine LinkedIn has discovered. I decided to get my feet wet with the sites mentioned in the article and see for myself what kind of experience those of us on the outside looking in could expect from this brave new world of social recruitment.
Of course, I am on LinkedIn, and I love it there. I see companies I recognize, and the site is even kind enough to help me figure out who I know at those companies to ask about the company culture, the recruitment practices and anything else my little heart desires. I even had the opportunity over the past few days to track down some people who I either tangentially know, or don’t know at all, in order to ask them about their industry, what sort of interesting business lessons I could learn from their firm, and if they were hiring. Oddly enough, I have not heard back from anyone, but this is not consistent with my experience of LinkedIn. For the most part, the people on this site are professionals, and they remember what it is like to be adrift, in a job or without a job, and they genuinely want to help in any way they can. The LinkedIn community seems to be set against the Hobbesian assumption of human nature, though there are certainly going to be some people on the site who are nasty, brutish and/or short.
The first of the companies I had not heard of before the article was Gild.com, and I absolutely had to try them out. The SF Chron article speaks of games, puzzles, and gadget give-aways. A nouveau technologist like myself would be salivating with just the talk of puzzles and games, but the gadget give aways gave Gild.com all I needed to bite down long enough for them to set the hook. Gild.com is good about allowing you link to existing profiles through LinkedIn and Facebook, meaning you do not have to go through the arduous step of repeatedly entering the same information you have input at hundreds of Taleo powered recruitment pages, and you can get started customizing your online profile, seeking jobs, and getting to work on some serious puzzles. Truth be told, the puzzles are nothing more than high level standardized tests, but the best of the best of the people who take these tests are rewarded handsomely with iPads, external memory drives, and jobs. This is a site where you can settle in, take a test, and earn a job through out-competing other candidates in real-time, on a level playing field, with reasonable transparency. The site is more geared toward coders, engineers and other computer techies, but I still found it edifying to compete head to head with them as a marketer, strategist, and technology fan-boy. Will I be receiving a Nikon camera or DSlite from Gild.com? No, not hardly, but I did hold my own against the number and code crunchers of the job market and that felt pretty good. Confidence is a good thing to have on a job hunt, but I found no jobs that I am suited to as an MBA. None, and that’s really not the sort of thing that will get me to come back very often.
Branchout, which I had actually already had a chance to play with before reading the article, is a plug-in for Facebook, which means you get to job hunt from the same online portal where you post pictures of your fraternity brothers leaping onto your back and riding you like a bull back when you were in college. Yes, I have that picture deep in the annals of my profile. Branchout is interesting in that it takes on your true, socially driven social network to come up with your links to jobs, but for the most part Branchout is still reliant on the old-school job board, Indeed.com. The application itself has an interesting call to action on the personal dashboard for every user, asking you to determine which of your friends is better for some task or another, but this is mainly to get you to post content to their feeds, annoying them with you and gaining Branchout new users of the ilk that are susceptible to the next FarmVille. The bottom line is that there are few jobs for most people, even though the jobs at VMware look to be fairly excellent, and this site has yet to develop into the RecruitmentVille it will soon be. I would prefer to waste my time with something that will at least reward me with another crop of carrots, because at least I can be sure there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
TopProspect.com is worth looking at for most individuals who will read this. Whereas most of these social recruitment firms are looking to build a social add-on to the pre-existing recruitment model, TopProspect has even decided to crowd-source a significant amount of the recruitment activities to job-hunters. This site integrates with Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to fill in your details and network, which I genuinely support despite any and all privacy related complaints, saving set-up time for job hunters who want to get in and start looking. This is where the really interesting part begins, once you are part of the pool, you are given every opportunity to recommend your friends and the people in your network for the jobs TopProspect has available. If your person wins the job, you get bank. Most of the positions I saw could net the recommenders $10,000 in good old-fashion America-bucks. If you don’t get the job you want, maybe you can find someone else for a different job, and end up getting paid anyway. I genuinely do not believe most of the people who try this know the right people for the right jobs, but the recommendation system will at least help the back of the house recruiters get to passive searchers and cut down on some of the spam applications, resulting in faster turn-around times to get more concise pools of candidates to bring to their clients. As a general site, I think TopProspect has embraced the truly social nature of this technology. They will compete to bring more jobs to your eyes, and get you to be more active in thinking about how you leverage your personal network in terms of job searching. I found a job for which I was well suited and recommended myself for it. I also found one that was good for a friend.
Roundpegg.com, on the other hand, was the most curiosity inspiring and the least helpful in terms of what I am trying to do. Roundpegg.com creates profiles reflecting your personality, culture and communication preferences to tell you what kind of teams and organizations you fit best with. I am hesitant to refer to Roundpegg.com as a career search site as I was unable to find a job or search mentioned anywhere on the site. I can see how this would be akin to social HR, perhaps even an interesting way to do personality testing online as a pre-hire screen, but more than anything this company looks to be trying to help you figure out team dynamics as a factor of hiring rather than the nuts and bolts of actual recruitment. The tests were interesting, but in the end I found little use for this site from the job hunting front.
There are some companies that are doing better jobs than others in the social recruitment front, but I have found the most happiness in getting nowhere from LinkedIn because I can use it for other tasks. One other site, not mentioned in the article, but certainly part of my hunt: Readyforce.com. The site features multimedia descriptions of featured jobs, very quick feedback (but don’t believe the 24 hour response for a moment, at least not yet), and a somewhat transparent process. Readyforce.com represents what the Monster.coms of the last era of online recruiting should have been: regional, responsive, and seemingly fair–at least Readyforce provides the surreptitious coaching of asking candidates why they are good for jobs.
I am curious to see how anyone else has fared trying these sites out, and if someone out there has actually ever managed to land a job from an online board I would like to know about that also. In the mean time, I’m going to get back to leaning on my over the phone and instant messaging social network for leads. So far, this has been the best strategy for me in terms of getting interviews.
One last detail, credit for the title of this post belongs to the friend I recommended for that position on TopProspect. It looks like I am taking advantage of him twice today. Best to you, buddy. You know who you are.