— Do job seekers need yet another social networking site? Maybe.
It’s probably the last thing you want to hear since many of you already have enough to deal with figuring out what you should and shouldn’t post on Facebook, whom to linkup with on LinkedIn and whether tweeting is really going to land you a dream job.
In comes Google with its own social networking site Google+ to make your life even more complicated. But it may be worth considering, especially if you’re in technology, marketing, social media or anything to do with the Internet. That is, if you can score an invite.
The site already has 20 million users and is creating buzz, with a lot of the grumbling about how unsocial the service is initially. You can’t get in without someone inviting you, unless you were one of the elite few that Google+ rolled out with. But don’t get put off by the nightclub-bouncer approach. Google+ is emerging as an easier-to-use alternative to many alternatives and could prove to be a job hunter’s hot spot as more people enter the Google+ tent.
“If you’re looking for a job you should use every tool in your belt, and Google+ should be in there,” said Tony Lee, publisher of jobs website CareerCast.com, adding that it’s about reaching as many contacts as you can. “If Google is doing this, then you know it’s going to be incredibly popular and used by lots of people.”
Aside from the projected popularity, many career experts also pointed to Google+ “circles” concept as one of the site’s biggest pluses.
Unlike so many other social networking sites, Google+ allows you to easily segregate people in your network. For example, you can have a circle for friends, another for family, and another for job contacts. You can quickly decide which circle sees what content right before you post a photo of your vacation, or a link to your resume.
“The magic of Google+ is the idea of social circles,” said William Weaver, a professor of Integrated Science, Business and Technology at La Salle University. “Job seekers can ‘follow’ industry professionals and eventually businesses as with Twitter but will have a deeper interaction with these entities similar to the experience of Facebook.”
“The difficulty with Facebook,” he continued, “is that a follower must be ‘accepted’ as a friend while a follower in Google+ is one-sided and can be initiated by the follower.”
Separating contacts and the back-and-forth of information lessens the fear of having something personal exposed that could impact your job search.
“It reduces risk,” maintained Sam Levine, management partner of the Buttonwood Group, an affiliate of recruiting firm MRINetwork.
“Google+ has the very useful feature of allowing users to easily select who gets to read a particular status update,” Levine added. “That allows job seekers to crow about their latest professional achievements to industry contacts and then go on to privately groan about their boss to your friends.”
But you still have to be careful when you post the groaning. When you’re about to post an item, there will be a listing of all your circles. That could pose problems if you rush through the process and end up checking off the box for a business associate instead of a family member. With Facebook this is less of an issue because you typically post comments and images to one set group.
Not for every job seeker
The site, however, isn’t right for every job seekers, he stressed. “Would I tell you an occupational healthcare nurse has to jump on Google+? I would say, not right now.” While people looking for jobs in healthcare, finance, and education might find the site helpful, the biggest gains right now are for people in high tech and the Internet, he advised.
Samantha Esterman, who was laid off from her marketing job in March, started using Google+ a week after it came out, in addition to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. She doesn’t see it yet as a great job-lead generator.
“It seems like the people I’m connected with are building profiles on it but they don’t update their status,” she said. But, she maintained, “I’m in public relations. This is something I’d be crazy not to be involved in.”
In order to find work, however, she said, “I’ve been using LinkedIn the most.”
Indeed, for now, most job-hunting experts advised staying with the social networking tools you use currently and checking out Google+ as a compliment to what you have.
Clearly, Google+ is still very new and lacking some of the features found with other services, including for example LinkedIn’s job listings. Last week, LinkedIn introduced another service that enables job seekers to submit their profiles directly to employers’ websites.
When asked about job listings, a Google spokeswoman said: “We're still in a limited field trial, so this is just the beginning. We hope to add lots of features over time, but we don't have any specific plans to share.”
Given that many of the Google+ early adopters seem to be the top of their fields in technology and social media, joining early may prove a career boon.
“Google+ invitations are currently scarce, so active users are generally well-connected. In my use of the service, it seems that the vast majority of early adopters are people related to the technology industry and Silicon Valley,” said Jon Burgstone, founding faculty chair, Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, University of California, Berkeley. “I expect job-seekers, at least for now, would find more and higher-quality opportunities on Google+ than LinkedIn.”
Eventually, he continued, Google+ will appeal to “a broader population. People who should know, report that Google+ has a very, very large number of people waiting to be invited to user the service. If accurate, Google+ could grow very quickly.”