Neil McIntyre (a young aspiring future CA in Toronto) recently posted to his blog that many accounting firms in Toronto are using Facebook, the social networking site, to recruit staff and solicit referrals from others. He’s right to say that few public companies probably look for auditors on Facebook, but I think he sells the prospect short. New and recent college graduates have always been leaders in adoption of new technologies (for a host of reasons), and while he’s right that nobody’s going to pick a new auditor based on their Facebook page, I think he needs to also consider that recruiting and retaining qualified staff is one of the biggest issues facing CPA firms today. As such, any technology that lets a firm find candidates looking for positions inexpensively is probably a good thing for us (and a bad thing for recruiters). One example I found upon setting up my Facebook account was a CPAmerica facebook identity for “CPAmerica International Careers”. While anybody who suggested that this would have been an effective recruiting strategy when I graduated from college 15 years ago would have immediately been laughed out of town, this isn’t costing a lot in time or fees, so why not try it???
Another site I’ve used is LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) , a social networking site where people “link” to each other and can help others meet other people of interest online. Where the introduction to an associate was a “push” transaction in the past (e.g. the referrer somehow divined that you needed to meet someone in their network and set up lunch for the three of you), LinkedIn makes it possible for the person looking for referrals to query the networks of those linked to them for introductions. Where Facebook was created by hipsters looking for a date and for ways to interact with their friends online, LinkedIn is a hard-core business machine designed to help you extend the reach of your personal network. I was introduced to LinkedIn by a friend from church who was in a top Executive MBA program a couple of years ago, and have been amazed by the people you can meet by just logging in periodically. All of the recruiters I know use sites like LinkedIn to find mid-career candidates for open positions, so if you’re looking for a job (or looking for people looking for a job), this may be a good place to spend a little time. The above-mentioned Neil McIntyre also compares Facebook and LinkedIn in an earlier post.
So if you’ve had your head down and elbows out working for the last few months, you may do well to come up for air and take in some of the new social networking sites for you and your firm. Just as social events helped us with perspective on our education in college, social networking sites may help us with perspective on our careers, and others we meet on these sites may help our careers, job searches, and firms more productive and profitable. (Who knows – you might even get a date!)