Peter Morgan is the Director of Communications at Rolls Royce – and he is not a fan of social media. Indeed, at a recent corporate communications meeting he largely said it was a waste of time. He was scathing about the potential of social media to alert corporates to problems and he said that social media hadn’t affected share prices. Perhaps someone ought to mention “BP” in his ear…? Or the Hudson River airline crash? Perhaps, of course, he might know I am talking about him if he were to use social media – but my guess is he doesn’t know I am saying any of this.
In which case he could be in for a shock in the years to come. His next job might not be easily won and when he does get it, the chances are his salary will not be as high as he might like. This is because a new study from the Department of Management at the University of Wisconsin shows that users of social networks are more likely to get a job and when they do get the job they get higher starting salaries than people who do not engage with online social networks.
True, this research has some flaws – it was theoretical, rather than based on actual job applications in real situations. But, nevertheless, it shows the way hiring managers think. When faced with job applications that show a clear use of social networks they said they favoured such candidates over applicants who had no use of social networks. And when it came to salaries they were prepared to pay the social networkers more money than the people who did not use the likes of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
There was a twist in the study; the social networking profiles were written in three ways. One group of profiles were business-like, another were focused on friends and family, while a third group concentrated on the alcoholic exploits of the candidates…! Needless to say, the alcohol-related applicants were rejected – but the other two were treated equally. This squashes the myth that you should separate your social networks into one for friends and another for business. Employers, it seems, are just as happy to take you on if your profile is family related.
Why? Well, the clue is in the name – “social networking”. Business depends upon people who get on with other people. If you are employing someone, yes, you want their technical skills or specialist knowledge, but you also want to be sure that they will fit in, that they will be able to get on with others in your organisation and outside. Evidence of a good online social network suggests that these potential employees have the networking and social capabilities a business requires.
As ever, it is not what you know – but who you know. Demonstrating to potential employers that you know plenty of people suggests you are social, that you get on with others and that you put the networking work in. That’s highly attractive to potential employers.
It is also what customers want to hear from potential suppliers; if a company bidding for some work appears to know lots of other people in a sector, they must be more valuable than a company that doesn’t know anyone outside it’s immediate circle. Even though you may know plenty of people in your industry, having an online social network presence confirms that to potential customers or employers. What this new research suggests is the possibility that social networkers will earn more than those who do not engage with the online social world. They will be able to gain bigger salaries or charge higher fees. And that, surely, must be a good reason for joining in the world of social networking.
Even if Rolls Royce’s Mr Morgan cannot see the point of using social media in his company, perhaps he might see the point for boosting his take home pay…? But there again, we may never know, because he probably isn’t reading this.