There is a lot of talk about Google Plus at present, the new social media thing from Google that will - according to some - not only rival Facebook and Twitter, but eventually kill them. Resultantly, particularly when it has grown to the size/scale of Twitter in less than four months, many are heralding the second coming of social media, and trying to find uses for Google Plus that other social media networks already hold - like job search.
The aim of this article is hence pretty simple, to answer the question: is Google Plus yet or ever likely to be the answer to your job search solution?
Google Plus: development in context
It will change and develop Any comments have to be taken into account of the scale of its present access and adoption
With regards the former issue, you can't presently easily integrate all your blog posts or other forms of social media; you have to manually repost. As an engineer I understand that, and as a launch marketing position I can accept that; but as a user, its seems like a gaping hole in the armoury.
On the second issue, then much as though its grown "bigger than Twitter in just four months" to quote an infamous Internet Marketer (actually, if he woke up, he'd realise that its a product development and not a company and product launch), then its still not open access to all. You can't just show up and register, you still have to be invited. This restricts the current users to active social media types and techno-heads, often based in Silicon Valley, more of which later.
Basic of Job Search and Social Media
Before I assess Google Plus as a job search tool, I'd like to cover a few basics of job search. Firstly, you have two ways to get a job: be approached by an employer, or approach them via either networking or direct application against a job advert. To then progress, you need an easily findable and inline with their SQE requirements social media profile, to pass a basic background competency check. Hence things like a LinkedIn profile and a Google Profile are basics in social media job search and application, because they SEO well.
Finally, the modern key to job search is that the internet allows you not only to research the company, but also the hiring manager. I'd go so far these days as a trained job interviewer, to say that it would be to your detriment just to read the front page of your prospective employers website, and their last five press releases: you have access to so much more specific information.
Google Plus is firstly based on your Google Profile, so you need a Google Profile to access and use Google Plus. Hence personally, Google Plus at best is at present a second tier tool to job search over a first tier essential, like a Google Profile is. Once you are on the platform, you can add people to circles, Google's form of groups. Now personally, circles are an interesting fail in the current form of Google Plus in terms of personal security. There is implied "friend approval" of a third party person, should they initially follow one of your friends, and then follow you. You then look at their profile and see your friends picture, giving implied social approval of that third party. Yet all they have done is added your friend to their circle. Secondly, what are you getting from adding someone to a circle? You see some of their feed of social media stream, and what they commented on. But remember, in the present beta development of Google Plus, that doesn't at present automatically include their own blog posts and tweets, so they only appear if that person chooses to re-post them.
Let's take one specific area of job search, finding and researching the hiring manager. Firstly finding, the only way to confirm that someone is the hiring manager is by researching a number of different sources, so Google Plus on its own - and remembering its based on Google Profiles - won't be able to fully confirm that that person is the hiring manager. Secondly, lets propose that you do confirm that that person is the hiring manager, unless they add you to one of their circles, then they won't hear you and your stream. Also, unlike Facebook - not that I agree with this tactic - you can't direct mail them.
Apply via LinkedIn
In contrast, if you know that that hiring manager is a member of a series of LinkedIn Groups, or you can seen that they are connected to you via so many listed people, then can connect to them by:
Posting questions in those groups to attract their attention Approach them via common connections
It should hence be no surprise that LinkedIn launched the Apply via LinkedIn button this week, which allows employers and job boards to add a LinkedIn centric button, which the job applicant can push to:
Create an instant CV from their LinkedIn profile data Find common connections to that employer
I don't see the Apply via Linkedin button presently as an ideal Job Applications solution. The basic problem is that a LinkedIn profile now has three purposes to fulfill: networking, sales, job search. When a networking profile should include all your positions, where as a good Professional CV should only include the positions and skills appropriate to that job application, there is already a clash. I'm sure they will listen to professional and job seeker feedback and adjust in time. In the mean time, they are offering HR managers the potential of picking up on all the passive job seekers in the market, which is the bigger corporate gain that this application aims to tap into.
Is Google Plus a Job Search essential?
So back to Google Plus: is it the ideal Job Search tool? I caveated this article with the fact that Google Plus is still in beta development, and open to invite only at present. So it would be foolish of anyone to say that it was the instant answer. Secondly you have to look at the flow of those invites presently across the world, which started in Silicon Valley and the social media elite, and still pretty much cores around those principles and people.
I saw a blog post and resultant series of articles recently, suggesting that companies in the Silicon Valley area were using Klout scores as a way of vetting job seekers. The reasoning was that an above 60 Klout score showed the person as an active social media user, which was essential in the current and developing market. I laughed at that suggestion, much as I laughed at the spam-based launch of Branchout on Facebook. The difficultly presently with Klout is that it tends to score highly on active social media - Twitter specifically - where as it finds it difficult to score depth and breadth of your network, and hence potential leverage.
I don't laugh at the people suggesting Google Plus is a good place for job seekers - particularly in the Silicon valley and social media/marketing sectors - to be and use. Going back to basics, there are two basic ways to get employed: apply, or be found. Does Google Plus presently help with either, accepting that its still in roll out? In theory, in apply mode it allows you to follow key individuals: but are they there, and will they let you listen? In find mode, then a Google Profile should be a stage1+ essential, as high as a LinkedIn profile. But after that it is much like every other SM network to a job seeker: a trail of evidence for a potential employer/recruiter. Google Plus threads don't SEO as well as say blogs at present, though that will change with time.
In the future, once Google Plus gets past beta development and allows open global access, then it will be a good tier one+ place to be and interact, personally one step behind LinkedIn. That's only because I conclude in the medium term, LinkedIn will still attract and keep online the highly influential and incumbent business people, where as Google Plus will attract a wider and broader global audience. I hence suspect to see Google Plus rival Facebook first as a place to undertake market research and product launch, before it steps in behind and rivals LinkedIn as a job search tool essential.
Ian R McAllister is the founder of a UK group focused on recruitment and employment in skills-short professional employment sectors, presently covering IT, telecoms and project management. The group also provides job applicant information and services via a series of online resources, engaging Professional CV Writers via their website at CV4.biz
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