The good thing about the internet is that it offers a vast amount of information to jobhunters, especially once they have secured an interview. Glassdoor.com, a website launched in 2008 that now covers more than 120,000 companies worldwide, lets employees (anonymously) share information about firms, ranging from what people think about the boss to salary levels and details about the interview process.
Last May LinkedIn became one of this year’s hottest initial public offerings, with its share price doubling on the first day of trading, because the social-networking site for professionals started in 2002 has become an integral part of the job market, useful for jobseekers and recruiters alike. It has around 120m members, more than half of them outside America and many of them professionals earning $100,000 a year and above. The website enables them to identify mutual contacts who can introduce would-be employees and employers to each other. Such personal recommendations are thought to have a better chance of success than applications or job offers to total strangers. BranchOut, a start-up launched last year which mostly deals with less exalted jobs, is trying to do something similar, using people’s networks of friends on Facebook to fill the jobs it lists.
Using these social-media tools to find a job is just the first step. According to Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, the site is increasingly becoming a peer-to-peer career-development network. In future, he predicts, members of LinkedIn doing similar sorts of work will “trade intelligence” about professional best practice with each other. “It will be a way to upgrade yourself constantly by trading intelligence, on, say, how to do my job as a product manager better.”
She argues that the pace of change will be so rapid that people may have to acquire a new expertise every few years if they want to be part of the lucrative market for scarce talent. She calls this process “serial mastery” and notes that the current educational system in most countries, from kindergarten through university, does a poor job of equipping people for continuous learning.
According to Ms Gratton, people will also have to invest more in their personal “social capital”, which will involve three elements. First, they need to build themselves a “posse”, a small group of up to 15 people they can turn to when the going gets rough, says Ms Gratton. They should have some expertise in common, have built up trust in each other and be able to work effectively together.
Second, they need a “big-ideas crowd” who can keep them mentally fresh. This echoes the discussion of “managed serendipity” in last year’s business bestseller, “The Power of Pull”, in which John Hagel and John Seely Brown argued that the successful worker of the future will live in clusters of talented, open-minded people and spend a lot of time going to thought-provoking conferences. Third, they need a “regenerative community” to maintain their emotional capital, meaning family and friends in the real world “with whom you laugh, share a meal, tell stories and relax”.
In a world where more people may work from home, there is a danger that they will become isolated. One remedy is the emergence of “collaborative workspaces” or “hubs” in big cities around the world. These are often more than shared offices with hot desks for people who prefer to be with other people even if they are not working for the same employer. The hub operator may also organise courses for professional development—on marketing or taxation, say—and social events.
Workplaces are changing fast, from landing jobs to having fun at work. Marx will be proven more wrong in the future about capitalism.