Friday, February 3, 2012’s “Inside Connections”

Imagine a world without Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn – seems pretty empty, doesn’t it? Social networks have become so entrenched in our daily lives that they have transformed the way we interact with the web. It is rare to go a few hours without seeing a TechCrunch article or a popular meme on your Facebook news feed. Social networks are fundamentally changing the way we see information, creating opportunities for companies like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and now, to turn user data into useful features.

Whether we like it or not, our activity on Facebook changes the way Google and Bing see the web.  While it is clearly important for search engines to leverage the web graph in ranking web pages, another useful application of social data is the job market., a popular job listing and info site, has recently come out with its own version of social search: “inside connections.”  The new feature uses the Facebook social graph to provide users with information about job openings and possible references/information sources. Given Glassdoor’s wealth of data about various companies and jobs, the ability to inform users of opportunities in the context of their friends adds significant value to the site by personalizing the job search for each user.

After reading the article, it is logical to ask if this is any different from LinkedIn. The point of this feature, however, is not to copy LinkedIn: the key is to use the unique information provided by Facebook to improve the experience. LinkedIn and Facebook are fundamentally different products, and do not necessarily have overlapping users (800 million Facebook vs 135 million LinkedIn users). Facebook is the world’s most popular social network but does not have any business features, so it makes sense for Glassdoor to leverage Facebook data to give each user more relevant results.

We expect the resulting social-professional network combination to exhibit the following properties that are expected to appear in a LinkedIn-type graph. The users that are connected to well-connected people will have access to the most jobs. Also, the users with more well-rounded and diverse sets of friends will have access to the most jobs. There will, however, be some differences between this and a pure professional network such as LinkedIn - the fact that this network is built on top of the Facebook social graph creates some differences in the user experience. For example, on LinkedIn it is desirable to be connected to recruiters (since they are usually well-connected) but in the social context of this graph this may not be possible (being Facebook friends with a recruiter with whom you only interacted in a professional setting may be less desirable than being connected to them on LinkedIn). This exposes the issue that perhaps a purely social network is not necessarily the best foundation for this type of professional application, and a network like LinkedIn may be more successful in the long run.

It is great to see more and more web companies emerging into the social networking scene to take advantage of social data. Though LinkedIn already offers a successful platform for business networking, the Facebook graph is much more expansive and can provide very useful data to a site like While the social and the professional network are fundamentally different, it is clear that they both hold useful information for the other. Only time will tell if Glassdoor can overcome the above obstacles to get the best of both worlds.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure who the author of this article is but he/she has a great understanding of the issues we are facing at Glassdoor. We are just starting to explore an internship program for software developers. I'd be interested in talking to anyone that has this deep an understanding of the social fabric.

    If you, the author, are interested, in an opportunity at Glassdoor, please reach out. You can find us at engjobs at glassdoor dot com.

    Ryan Aylward