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Jack Causa

More Employers Turning to Social Networks As a Channel for Recruiting New Talent

No longer the exclusive domain of young people connecting with their friends, social networks are quickly becoming a powerful medium for employers seeking to recruit much-needed talent for their organizations.

July 24, 2008
Sponsored by The Mergis Group

by Jack Causa, senior vice president and group executive, The Mergis Group

The concept of professional networking is as old as the cocktail party, but the leveraging of online technology for this purpose is still growing in popularity. Originally launched as a means of social interaction between younger audiences, Web-based social networks have now achieved status as a great way to share more sophisticated content with others and stay connected to peers on the Internet.

For employers, they also offer a strategy for coping with the current economic pressures and ongoing talent shortages. These challenging times are forcing employers to be more creative in their recruitment efforts in order to find the best possible candidates for their organizations. With more employers turning to social networks as a recruiting channel, they have become a terrific medium for building your career.

Social Networking and Career Development

Social networks provide a fresh avenue for professionals to make new contacts without the time expenditure incurred attending mixers or scheduling lunches. That's because they offer the ability to reach a universe of individuals who might be able to make valuable introductions or recommendations for you.

Instead of hunting for a specific job, members of the network look to reach out and expand their network — in turn expanding their job opportunities. Often, building connections with other members result in accessing top jobs that aren't published in classifieds or traditional job postings.

The concept behind using social networks to find a job is easy: The more connections you make within the network, the more friends-of-a-friend you can meet and the better your chances of finding an employer or key contact who can make an introduction that might result in an employment opportunity for you.

Three Social Networking Sites to Explore

If you have not already done so, there are three major social networking sites you should explore right away if you are serious about expanding your network of professional contacts and building your career development options:

  1. LinkedIn

    Take a few minutes to search LinkedIn and I'm sure you'll find lots of contacts from your current and prior employers, clients, vendors and schools. All those contacts have the potential to help you grow your career or find a new job. In addition, it can be a good source of employment references, as well as reference checking. You can also search the Jobs section of LinkedIn by keyword and location or used the Advanced Search option to search by more specific criteria. The truth is that LinkedIn has reached a point where it's almost unprofessional not to be on LinkedIn; there are members from all 500 of the Fortune 500 companies in 130 different industries.
  2. Facebook

    Social networking is not only a great way to market yourself — it's also a great way to learn about prospective employers who are seeking to find you. In fact, you might be surprised at some of the companies that have Facebook corporate profiles. Ernst & Young, for instance, has an extremely robust presence on Facebook, which offers accounting professionals a wide range of valuable information "on topics such as applying and interviewing for careers" with the global firm. As with other major accounting employers, they are cognizant of the fact that they need employees and they are willing to think outside the typical recruiting box to attract this generation of job seekers. These Facebook profiles will provide you with specific information on how to contact the employer or recruiter if you wish to create a dialogue.
  3. MySpace

    In addition to companies that use career networking sites, like LinkedIn and Facebook, to recruit, there are employers who use MySpace to scope out candidates for employment. These companies look through the right lens, understand the communication skills of this generation and are willing to set aside their biases in order to find a terrific candidate. Don't worry about scraping personal interests or hobbies from your profile (assuming there is nothing offensive or inappropriate) because most employers look holistically at the entire candidate and are interested in what they can learn about you as a person. For example, a cutting-edge employer, especially in less traditional industries, may not mind a creative profile and will understand the distinction between that person's private life and the employee they may hire.

Conclusion

As with traditional "cocktail party" networking, social networking works best when you don't really need it to pay off for you — as a long-term career development safety net, rather than a tool for a quick-hit job offer. So forward-thinking accounting professionals won't wait until they need their social network to get it started; embrace this exciting technology wave and build yours now.

Jack Causa, CPA, is Senior Vice President and Group Executive at The Mergis Group. Causa is responsible for the management and operations of The Mergis Group, a division of Spherion that provides specialty professional recruiting and placement services across a range of professional disciplines, including finance and accounting, information technology, engineering, sales and marketing, legal and human resources. Causa has more than 25 years of experience in the professional recruiting industry and joins Spherion from Callaway Partners, a professional services firm, where he served as the partner responsible for the company's staff augmentation business. Prior to that position, Causa held leadership roles at Jefferson Wells, where he was a managing director and Kforce, where he was president of finance and accounting. He began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers.