While we in Spain are celebrating our fine football win in Euro 2012, the sobering prospect of our unemployment - with one in four out of work, the highest in the Eurozone - remains a major cause for concern.
Although it is somewhat insulated from the Eurozone, unemployment in the UK is at its highest in decades with over one million 16-24 year olds out of work. Many young as well as experienced professionals are pulling out all the stops to find work, acknowledging the imperative think outside of the box and find new ways to stand out. With so much competition out there for each job, it's necessary to do whatever you can so your CV is capable of propelling you off the pile and into that all-important interview. Many job seekers are actually turning to Facebook as a new way in. Yes, you heard that right - Facebook.
They are actually using the social media giant to gain ground professionally. Some use the banner image on their timeline to showcase their employment experience, converting their personal profile into a kind of social CV. Others have used status updates as a sort of help offered ad; alerting friends that they are currently out of work and would appreciate any leads. Even more useful are Facebook applications and websites specifically designed to help job seekers use the social network to advance their career.
While you may know everyone you are friends with on Facebook, you are unlikely to know or remember where each person works; and, you definitely don't know where each of their friends works. This is where a new generation of apps and websites are coming into their own, and leveraging those valuable connections to your job-hunting advantage.
One of these apps is our very own jobandtalent, a professional networking site that we have just launched in the UK following considerable success in Spain. Founded on the principle, "with a little help from my friends," this app allows users to see where they have Facebook connections inside companies where they are applying for jobs, from a range of more than 1,700 employers. This gives users the chance to obtain valuable recommendations, the inside scoop on company culture and politics from their friends working there, and to demonstrate their connectedness to the companies where they are looking to get hired.
These new tools benefit the recruiter as well as job seekers, as they can see the professional details of Facebook friends of registered candidates, enabling them to reach out to the all-important "passive" jobseeker market - those not currently looking but who might have the necessary talents to prove ideal company recruits. And job seekers shouldn't worry; using a tool like jobandtalent only allows your professional resume to be accessed, not the details of which football team you're a fan of or those embarrassing snaps of you and your friends staying up late and partying - your personal details are totally secure and only professional information is shared.
Now connecting over 900 million users, Facebook has the potential to reinvent the much maligned recruitment sector. This was originally dependent on help wanted ads in newspapers and then later moved online with websites such as CareerBuilder and Monster, with recruiters now just beginning to discover the potential of sourcing talent via social media. With one in five users on Facebook adding academic and professional information to their profiles, recruiters (together with tools/apps that protect users' personal information) are able to identify potential candidates, who may or may not be job searching. Many companies - including Starbucks and L'Oréal - have migrated their recruitment pages from the company website to a Facebook page dedicated specifically to showcasing career opportunities to attract bright new prospects. Although many recruiters are still a bit wary of the protocols and potential pitfalls of this new frontier, the trend appears to be growing and with more candidates scouring Facebook for job openings, companies are starting to investigate how they can also get involved.
Although Facebook is the largest and most far reaching social network right now, it is not alone in tapping into career development. Recruiters and jobseekers alike have started to use Twitter to recruit and be recruited, marshalling hash tags to sift and focus their searches. Job seekers have been tweaking their profiles to demonstrate a keen interest in different sectors, articles, and movements. Twitter users can indicate their interests to future employers by the type of articles and posts they have been sharing. Users are also utilising the small character space in their profiles to promote personal achievements such as, "PHD Philosophy Grad available for new career opp." Recruiters can both advertise jobs in tweets as well as spot candidates who have optimised their profiles for recruitment purposes. The challenge or limitation of Twitter is how it forces employers and candidates to be creative in a high-paced and limited character set.
LinkedIn may have been the recent top choice among social media for companies hiring directly, and many recruiters still swear by it, but it has only around 160 million members. Facebook is not only the fastest growing social network but users typically sign in every day, while LinkedIn users sign in on average once a month. The average age of LinkedIn users is 44, while 60 percent of Facebook users are under 30. This allows companies to connect with a larger and younger job-seeker demographic using Facebook. Graduates and those relatively new to the jobs market, with little experience and few work contacts, find an uphill struggle to get established on LinkedIn. They certainly can't do this straight out of the gate.
What Facebook offers (and where Twitter, for example, falls short) is the possibility to harness personal relationships. Facebook friends will include old school pals, trusted teachers, cousins, second cousins, old roommates, work colleagues - people who form part of a user's real life in various ways. These also comprise the friends who you would most trust to ask a favour, for example to make a job referral on your behalf. Just think about it - if you had a job interview this week and you had to ask a friend for a referral - would it be someone who forms part of your social community? The answer is most likely going to be yes.
The accepted belief that you should keep your social network and professional sphere quite separate is quickly fading as the lines increasingly start to blur. This does not mean anxious job seekers should sacrifice their privacy in order to ingratiate themselves with potential employers. It does mean however that users need to be well informed as to how to use appropriate tools and apps to leverage social contacts professionally. In this way, Facebook is becoming an increasingly powerful tool, not just one that is advantageous to shareholders and advertisers, but also for those of us out there who could really use a helping hand in navigating today's tough job market.
Spanish internet entrepreneur, 31-year-old Juan Urdiales, launched jobandtalent in Madrid in 2009 with co-founder and co-CEO Felipe Navío, now aged 28. Newly established in the UK with a base at London's Moorgate, it is online at Spanish internet entrepreneur, 31-year-old Juan Urdiales, launched jobandtalent in Madrid in 2009 with co-founder and co-CEO Felipe Navío, now aged 28. Newly established in the UK with a base at London's Moorgate, it is online at www.jobandtalent.com and is on the verge of expanding into other countries in Europe, including Germany.