Facebook vs. LinkedIn: Which is Better for Professional Networking, Job Hunting and Collaboration?

Facebook vs. LinkedIn: Which is Better for Professional Networking, Job Hunting and Collaboration?

This in-depth review investigates how the two social networking sites compare for business purposes

Which site is better for professional use, by both companies and employees: LinkedIn with its focused approach, or Facebook with its multitude of applications

Social networking is no longer the Next Big Thing; it's now as much part of our Web experience as search engines. Previously considered the province of kids who wanted to keep up with class gossip, social networking services are being co-opted by grownups who are examining ways to use them both within and outside of their places of employment.

At least one social networking site, LinkedIn, has been vying for an adult usership since its introduction in 2003. LinkedIn allows users to create and maintain a list of their professional contacts (and friends as well); the purpose is to be able to network to have access to your contacts' contacts, and in that way further your professional outlook. You want to find a job? A new sales opportunity? Information about a client? Here's a way to do that.

LinkedIn has remained remarkably stable in its services. It has made some concessions to Web 2.0 expectations by adding a job board as well as areas where you can find recommendations for service providers or answers to questions. It also offers premium services that allow users to access more information and the ability to contact second- or third-degree contacts (in other words, friends of friends of friends). However, it has not swerved from its original mission: to be a business-only service rather than a more generalized social networking site.

There are few other sites that are as focused as LinkedIn, but at least one has moved from being only for socializing to being a business tool as well. Facebook began in 2004 as a site for college students — ie., people with university e-mail addresses — to socialize online, and was only opened to the general public in 2006. Since then, it has rivalled MySpace as the place to hang out, but it has also attracted an increasingly adult audience who want to use it as a means to discuss their professions rather than their latest crushes.

Facebook has a much wider range of services than LinkedIn — mainly because of the large number of third-party applications that people can install and use — and so it is a more flexible medium of communication. It may also be an advantage to companies to use a service that employees are probably already familiar with.

However, the use of Facebook as a means for business networking has been controversial. Companies that want to use Facebook to keep their increasingly mobile employees in touch are concerned — not without reason — that all those games, social groups and quizzes ("Can you name the Muppet characters?") can distract people from actually doing work.

So which is actually better for professional use, by both companies and employees (and would-be employees): LinkedIn with its focused approach, or Facebook with its multitude of applications?

To check this out, we came up with six familiar business scenarios and asked two of our writers to solve them: one by using Facebook, and one by using LinkedIn. Sometimes it was clear which service could do the job better, but sometimes it was difficult, or impossible, to choose a winner.

It turned out, in fact, that there is no absolute winner; both Facebook and LinkedIn excel in different scenarios. It all depends on what you need to do.

Which would you choose? Check out our six business scenarios, and see what you think. You may decide to pick one over the other, or may simply decide to join both.
— Barbara Krasnoff

1. Look for a job without your boss knowing.

You've just about had it. You work 10 hours a day, you make about two-thirds of what your best friend makes doing the same job at a different company, and you are close to murdering the client who can't grasp the difference between a browser and an operating system. It's time to find another gig, but although you know that networking around the Web is a good way to go, you don't want your boss (who is, unfortunately, not a total dweeb) to find out before you give notice.

Ready to head for the door but don't want your boss to know you're eying the exit? Facebook makes it relatively easy to look for work. To be sure that your boss won't find out that you're looking, though, it's a good idea to create a new Facebook identity before going on your job hunt, and use that identity as you search.

After you do that, head to the Facebook Marketplace and click on Jobs. When I checked, there were 1262 available, and believe it or not, many were real jobs, not work-at-home come-ons promising $US4,000 a month for working in your pyjamas. The more than two dozen Systems/Network/IT jobs, for example, appeared to be the real thing. And there were 80 Software/QA/DBA job postings, 71 Web development and design jobs, and various other ones, such as in customer support and sales.

Also worth trying is the Jobster Career Network Facebook app. It ties directly into the Jobster job-finding site. Tell it what kinds of jobs you're looking for, and it e-mails you about relevant ones. You can also browse through jobs via the app. The application also lists all of your friends by the company they work for, and lets you ask them questions about the company, either individually or en masse.

An important note: When you add this application, make sure to uncheck the boxes next to "Put a box in my profile," "Place a link in my left-hand navigation," "Publish stories in my News Feed and Mini-Feed" and "Place a link below the profile picture on any profile." That way, if your boss somehow manages to find your profile, he won't know you're hunting for a job.
— Preston Gralla

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