Yes, I'm a bit late to the game on this one (okay, a LOT late to the game). But I'm guessing a significant number of my readers aren't familiar with a really useful piece of technology offered by LinkedIn, one of the most popular business social networking sites (11+ million members), called JobsInsider.
What is it? It's a free browser plug-in/toolbar (for IE or Firefox) that serves several purposes. One is simply as a quicker way to access LinkedIn content. But the much cooler feature is that when you're looking at jobs on Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs, Craigslist, SimplyHired, Dice, or Vault, a separate window comes up that notifies you if anyone in your LinkedIn network works for the organization and allows you to contact them to help with making the right connections.
Let's look at an example. I went to SimplyHired and looked up jobs working for Apple in Sacramento, CA. When I click on any of the jobs that come up the JobsInsider window pops up and tells me 207 people in my LinkedIn network work for Apple, and two are friends of my connections. I can click on the link and it takes me to a description of those people. Click on any one person and it tells you how you're linked to that person. Here's what it looks like:
Not only that, but (at least with SimplyHired), when job search results come up, you can click on "who do I know?" for each position to have LinkedIn search your network.
Pretty nifty, huh? So why do we care, other than it being a nifty little piece of technology?
For one, it's another reason to be a member of LinkedIn--at least if you're interested in being contacted by applicants. Given the choice between pursuing a job somewhere where I don't know anyone and a place where I can make a contact, I'll take the latter.
Second, it's a good way to double- (or triple-) check credentials of applicants. Most of these networking sites strongly encourage you to put in your educational background and job experience. If what's listed here doesn't match the resume or application they submitted to you, that's something to follow up on. Could be a simple explanation, could not be.
Finally, another reason to care about this is it's likely a sign of things to come. With meta-people search sites like ZoomInfo out there, and ones like Spock coming on board, we need to be very comfortable with our on-line identities and understand how they link to other people.
One last cool feature of the LinkedIn toolbar. When you open an e-mail in Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, MSN Hotmail, or AOL, you automatically have the option to get someone's LinkedIn information or invite them to your network. In fact there's even a tool that will do the same thing for your Outlook mail.
Happy Memorial Day!