Last week, #CareerGravity co-founders Brent Skinner and Jon DiPietro gave a joint presentation to an audience of job seekers at Manchester Community College’s Workforce Development Center. As we stood in front of the audience waiting to begin, I eavesdropped on several conversations. Some of them were typical of what I hear on a very regular basis. They go something like this: “I hate Facebook. I use it as little as possible but when I do sign in, all I see are game updates and pictures of what people had for dinner. The last thing I want is to connect to people I work with.”
When it comes to most of those complaints, I get it. It’s a common issue for people who aren’t familiar with the tools and tricks inside Facebook that allow you to hide and filter some of the nonsense. But it’s a shame because Facebook really is a powerful personal branding tool and is increasingly becoming both a hiring and job seekers goldmine.
According to statistics from recruitment platform iCims, 14.4 million people used social media to find their last jobs. Additionally, 33 percent of recruiters and 50 percent of companies use Facebook. Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer of iCims says that more people are tying their Social Apply application to their Facebook pages than their LinkedIn profiles. Surprisingly, she claims that Facebook has actually been more popular than LinkedIn for these job seekers:
As much as people think of LinkedIn for hiring — they’re obviously popular with white-collar hiring, and most corporate employees are familiar with LinkedIn — the reality is that there are tons of tons of submissions where candidates are not on LinkedIn. Health care and retail are two of our strongest verticals. If you think of retail associates, part-time workers, they’re not on LinkedIn, but they’re definitely on Facebook.
Additionally, you’ve probably heard us quote the statistics from the annual Jobvite survey before: 89% of companies surveyed said that they were either actively recruiting via social media or planned to do so in the near term. Of those, 55% said that they use Facebook and 63% of them said they had successfully hired a candidate through social media. When rating the quality of candidates by source, job boards came it at the bottom of the list while referrals came in at the top. HR technology companies have seen this coming and are providing solutions to companies that allow them to use social networks as a way to find quality referrals at scale.
If you’re not part of those social circles, you’re missing out. It’s that simple.
I’ve done a lot of public speaking and workshops over the last four years on the subject of social media. Most of my audiences have skewed toward the older end of the age demographic. More recently, I’ve been involved with colleges and young professionals. My observations are that there are challenges at both ends of this spectrum.
Professionals in their 40’s and up tend to look at social media with great skepticism. Sometimes, even with great hostility. In some cases, it’s because they simply don’t understand it. In others, they are extremely uncomfortable with the entire concept of sharing information. When they do embrace Facebook, they tend to do so in a very private manner with family and friends. They also tend to lurk more than engage, being overly cautious in many cases.
High school and college students, and even young professionals, tend to engage – often with reckless abandon. They’ve grown up in this age of sharing and since they have never been in the professional world, they tend not think about the professional ramifications of their posts and interactions. They don’t think very strategically about their personal brand or their use of these networks.
And so what I see are two mirror images. An older generation too uncomfortable with social media to use it for professional development believes that it’s inappropriate to ask them to mix personal and professional interactions. And a younger generation too unfamiliar with professional development to take advantage of social media believes that it’s inappropriate to ask them to mix personal and professional interactions. Both groups have the same basic issue for opposite reasons.
Both groups need to come to grips with it because it’s the reality of today’s job market.