Network Your Way to the Best Job Candidates

Wednesday Mar 2nd 2005 by Dan Muse
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Looking to fill a key position? LinkedIn says why take chances. The social networking company wants you to use the power of its two million registered uses (and connections you trust) to find the right person.

Let's face it. When it comes to doing business, most people prefer to work with someone they know — or at least someone who knows someone they know. That's the concept behind LinkedIn and other companies that specialize in social networking.

LinkedIn now lays claim to a community of 2 million registered users, according to Konstantin Guericke, the company's vice president of marketing. Guericke said that since the company's launch in May 2003 it has been adding bulk and now has the critical mass needed to launch its first for-pay service. That service, announced yesterday by the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, is LinkedIn Jobs, which the company describes as the Internet's first relationship-powered job network.

You can post a listing, which runs for 30 days, for $95 per job with a 50 percent discount for the first job posting. There is also an option to promote jobs on the LinkedIn home page for an additional fee. Subscription packages are available for HR departments and recruiting firms wishing to purchase listings in bulk.

Battling Monsters
Is this really a better way to find new hires? Guericke points to research from CareerXroads that shows that 28 percent of new hires come through referrals. That compares to only 2.8 percent that come through Monster.com. For small businesses looking to recruit for a key position, LinkedIn Jobs holds promise. "I think it fits best with small businesses, Guericke said, "large enterprises have recruiters and big HR departments." Small businesses tend to rely more on knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone.

SMBs, LinkedIn says, benefit because they have access a network of referrals and references for candidates. Managers can go beyond what they can glean from resumes and interviews by getting feedback on the reliability and work habits of the candidate. For potential job candidates, Guericke has this warning: "If you have something to hide, it's not good," Guericke said. "It's like the concept of peer review in science."


LinkedIn Jobs
Looking to offer a "relationship-powered" job service, LinkedIn — a leader in social networking — announced LinkedIn Jobs

The foundation of social networking services such as LinkedIn is that you create an extended network based on current contacts and past colleagues similar to the way real business in done in the real world, Guericke said. That is, someone you know makes an introduction to someone you may have an interest in contacting regarding a product or service.

The connections are established only when someone who has a relationship makes an introduction. The number of introductions needed to reach the intended party depends on the "degrees of separation" between you. For example, three degrees of separation means going through to two intermediaries. At the heart of social networking is the premise that you set up connections only with people you trust and can vouch for. For that reason, Guericke said, 83 percent of requested contacts are granted.

Free Job Connections
In addition to its paid service, the company also announced LinkedIn JobsInsider, a free browser companion tool that informs job seekers of inside connections they have to employers when they browse major Internet job boards.

LinkedIn reports that JobsInsider operates in the background and is activated only when users search major job boards. At that point, a research pane opens on the left-hand side of the browser showing inside connections the job seeker has at the company posting the position.

All employees listed at the target company through JobsInsider are registered LinkedIn users who have indicated that they are willing to help job seekers by providing them with additional information about the position or referring them on to the hiring manager, according to LinkedIn. Job seekers can then choose which of their own contacts they would like to make the introduction. LinkedIn claims to have already aggregated more than 300,000 job listings and expects to reach a million listings this summer.

While the company won't make any money from its free JobsInsider service, Guericke said, LinkedIn realizes that it's part of "earning your keep" as a provider of a social networking service.

While the company generates revenue from advertising and, as of yesterday, a paid job service, Guericke sees LinkedIn's role as being about more than profits. The company's vision is that if people are aware of how connected they are, they may perform better and treat people more professionally. "If you realize everyone you work with is a reference, it could affect your behavior."

Dan Muse is executive editor of internet.com's Small Business Channel and EarthWeb's Networking & Communications Channel.

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