Facebook’s Graph Search is a Powerful Alumni Networking Tool

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“Show me any of my friends, or friends of friends, who graduated from my college and work at IBM.”

That’s an example how you could use Facebook’s new Graph Search to build relationships in Facebook in order to be introduced to hiring authorities.

phone bookFacebook is the equivalent of a global phone book.  If you are not listed, you don’t exist.   When it was founded nearly 10 years ago, few thought it would become the defacto online community for over a billion users worldwide.

Because of its enormous growth– growth that is unlikely to be matched by any other online entity in our lifetime, Facebook has the potential to bring together people who have the same likes, interests, hobbies, business connections, career aspirations and (similar) goals.

One of the reasons Facebook has been able to snag a huge user base and keep folks using their free product is because they are constantly innovating, designing new services, and incorporating tools and ways their product can “change the world” and “change your world.”

Few people realize how much data and information they give about themselves on Facebook and on sites that use Facebook Likes, Recommendations and Comments.   Now that Facebook is about to have its 10th birthday, it’s accumulated a whole lot of data that has been sitting dormant– only available to organizations willing to write applications to data-mine it and repurpose it to provide new and innovative user experiences.

However, starting Monday, July 15th, Facebook is giving all BILLION users a new search tool that offers them the ability to data-mine nearly a decade of information their friends and friends-of-friends have shared.  The tool is designed to help people learn more about their friends, build new relationships and provide a fun way to “kill time”!

However, there is a serious side of this new tool that many will miss.

Facebook’s new Graph Search is a FANTASTIC new career and professional network tool!

Before we get into the details and practical ways you can use Facebook to build your professional network, let’s explore why we need to spend 80 percent of our time building our professional networks.

You have probably heard that as many as 80 percent of us get jobs through friends, and friends of friends.   Yet, did you also know the average job seeker will spend 40 hours a month posting his or her resume on the 50,000 job boards out there?   Did you know that only 12% of jobs offered originated from a hiring manager grabbing the candidate out of the electronic job board pile?

But wait! There’s more proof about why you should be focusing on developing your network:

  • According to the New York Times, referred candidates are twice as likely to land an interview.
  • Referred candidates are 3-4 times more likely to be hired according to CareerXroads.

And, here are a couple reasons why hiring managers like referrals:

  • According to Jobvite, 46% of referrals stay 3 or more years, vs. only 14% hired through job boards!
  • 46% of all hires at top-performing firms come from referrals, according to Sullivan & Associates.

Ok!  So are we on the same page?

Networking is THE single most important activity anyone can do to advance his or her career!  That brings us to why we are focusing on the new Graph Search today.

Tips to use Graph Search in the job search:

The new Graph Search tool is a powerful addition to the free tools Facebook provides users and will enable them to search based on gender, relationship, employer, current city, home town, college, major, degree, graduation date and friendships.  Users can also search based on Likes, Recommendations and posts –not just on Facebook but any website that uses these to build engagement!

Facebook’s new search tool offers an easy to use way for your alumni to drill into the data created and shared by students and alumni in order to find fellow alumni who:

  1. Are working at a specific company
  2. Have a specific major, job title or skills you need with which to network
  3. Live in a town to which you are moving
  4. Are connected to someone in a company where you want to get a job with which you want to do business.

Let’s take a look at this from a different angle. 

By now you know I’m a Kent State University grad.   Here are a couple ways I’d use the new Graph Search:

First, let’s look at how I can use Graph Search to find “friends, and friends-of-friends” so I can reach out to see if they are hiring at their firm/department or if they might introduce me to the hiring authority.

To accomplish that I’d simply type into the search box now provided to find people who:

  • Went to Kent State, who know the person that will be interviewing me.
  • Went to Kent State, who work at American Greetings, IBM,  Red Cross, or any company for which I am interested in working.
  • Majored in business, prior to 2003, with a specific title like, “Vice President of Marketing,” that would likely be in the department into which I want to be hired.
  • Live in the town I’m moving to, so I can reach out ahead of time to get suggestions about which companies to apply to.
  • Liked a fan page of a company for which I am interested in working and who are employed by another company and graduated before 2000.

Next, let’s find information about the person that is interviewing me at the company.

My first step would be to search through my network to see if someone is connected to them that might be able to put in a few words prior to our interview.

Then, I’d use the search tool to see if I could learn more about the interviewers’ interests, hobbies and activities.   Remember:  People do business with people.  Sales people are taught to look for points of interest on the desk or walls of the person they are meeting and to comment on those.  Using the electronic data points, one can pick up conversation starters to break the ice in the initial or follow-up interviews.

Are you beginning to get the picture?  

The new search tool is very flexible, easy to use and, and very powerful!  While it takes only minutes to learn how to use the search tool, it will take considerably more time to learn how to not only use it strategically, but also to build a habit of using it based on an overall career plan and goal.  Let’s explore both.

Building a strategy to use Facebook’s new Graph Search:

Now that you have an idea of what Facebook’s new Graph Search can do for you, you will need to develop your own strategy.    While everyone’s goals and overall strategies will be different, we can all start out with a few steps that will help us build a successful Facebook job search strategy.

To get your alumni started I’d recommend they:

  • Identify the companies that are hiring positions for which they are interested
  • Search for people who are friends or the friends-of-friends of their friends
  • Review available information and/or job titles
  • Reach out and friend those who look like they could be good resources
  • Like the Fan page of the companies at which you are looking and search for employees who have also Liked the pages to continue to look for “friendly” faces and people that will act as inside “champions” for you


Changing your behavior to implement your strategy:

Now that you have a solid understanding about how to use the tool, and strategy to use it, you’ll have to change your behavior!   You can’t expect to jump into this tool just once and see results.  Like anything else, you will need to add it to your daily schedule.

Get out and try the new techniques and see for yourself!

What do you think?  What are additional ways you see you could use Graph Search to get a job?

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Don Philabaum
Love to find ways to use technology help more grads and alumni develop successful career strategies.
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum

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