Yahoo Kickstarts Business Networking Wars

MySpace and Facebook are the clear winners — so far — in the social networking wars, but Yahoo has fired an opening salvo in what may be the next heated skirmish: business and employment networking.

Yahoo’sKickstart is meant to help college students launch their professional careers.

“It’s based on the premise that everyone does have a network: the school you went to, the frat/sorority you were in, the professional/interest group you are in, the companies you interned or worked at,” wrote Scott Gatz, Yahoo senior director of advanced products, in his blog.

Job Sites Galore

To be sure, there are any number of job sites — fromCraigslist toMonster.com — already devoted to this purpose, noted Matt Goddard, a principal withR2i.

These sites increasingly are attempting to mimic Facebook’s approach to connecting job candidates with prospective employers, he told TechNewsWorld. At the same time, the social networking community is gravitating in their direction.

Social networks work both ways, Goddard pointed out. “People who are researching a company can read the profiles of those already employed there.”

New Models

It remains to be seen how this particular slice of the social networking pie will go over. Facebook, Goddard noted, “is trying to be all things to all people. The questions is, will participants want to link their personal profiles to the profiles they are presenting to their future employers?”

There have been enough horror tales circulating in the blogosphere about job opportunities lost after a potential employer found questionable photos or profiles online for that answer to be a resounding no.

Still, Facebook and its partners will certainly try to provide that type of service for its 50 million or so members.

Lawson Software, for instance, has introduced a new Facebook widget called “Come Work with Me.” Using Lawson Software Strategic HCM (human capital management), an employer can expose the widget to its employees to add to their Facebook pages, in the hopes that their friends and colleagues will apply for current openings.

Separate Lives

Momentum is undoubtedly growing for specialized online networks for job hunters.

One well-established example, of course, isLinkedIn, a network for building professional relationships.

Yahoo is targeting the lower end of the professional spectrum — new college grads — a strategy that could, in fact, result in greater takeup. The newly graduated are often at loose ends when trying to find a first job without an established business network in place.

Yahoo is presumably hoping that the just-out-of-college crowd will remain with Kickstart as members move up the corporate ladder over the years, instead of switching tomore-established sites, such as LinkedIn.

“I think Yahoo is definitely trying to give LinkedIn a run for its money,” Sue Spielman, cofounder ofbSocial Networks, told TechNewsWorld. “One thing they are counting on is that people want a more professional outlet for their job searches.”

No matter which end of the employment spectrum a site is targeting, though, it is clear that more jobs and professional opportunities are showing up online.Headway Corporate Resources, a full-service human resources support company, for example, routinely uses social networking Web sites, such as LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook, to recruit potential employees and help place existing clients in appropriate jobs.

Another example isPaul F. Davis — a worldwide speaker and author of 12 books, including Pulitzer Prize nominated Poems that Propel the Planet, who has been able to identify far-flung opportunities through online sources.

“As a worldwide speaker who has been to over 50 countries, I have often found jobs through social networking sites,” Davis told TechNewsWorld.

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