Lots of us routinely make use of social networking sites to engage with our friends. In fact, many people have become hooked on them, logging in several times a day to see what our pals are up to even when we are out and about. But it seems social media is increasingly starting to take on a very different function these days.
Research by the Taleo Corporation has revealed that many office workers are turning to these outlets to see what career options may be available. Indeed, figures showed that 21 per cent are logging on to LinkedIn to find out more about possible job opportunities, while 20 per cent are doing the same on Facebook.
Nine per cent were said to be turning to Google+ to find ways up the career ladder and eight per cent are favouring Twitter. Meanwhile, figures indicated that nearly three-quarters of those polled access social networking sites once a month or more to aid their professional development.
While companies may not always use sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to post job advertisements, they do represent extremely useful sources of information for jobseekers. This may be particularly true for those who want to continue working in their current sector, as they might already have contacts and useful expertise that may help them switch to a new firm.
Taleo Corporation has said this continuing trend shows that Britain is starting to become a "nation of job flirts". Companies that want to hold on to their best employees have therefore been urged to make more effective use of social networking sites or risk losing their best people.
However, the group's research showed that only one-quarter of employees believe their bosses currently make use of their existing social network connections.
Dave Wilkins, vice-president of Taleo Research, commented: "Employers need to focus on building a strong employer brand and incorporating social media presence into their talent acquisition strategies.
"At the same time, companies need to do a better job in tapping into employee networks and self-identified areas of expertise without being perceived as overstepping boundaries."
Mr Wilkins said that if businesses can successfully "use social talent practices to harness the collective wisdom and expertise" of their workforce, they will be in a good position to succeed, as well as to connect with talented individuals at other firms.
He stated that social networking is "here to stay", which means businesses should not avoid using these websites to engage with their workforce and find out who their best performers are.
But the Taleo study showed that companies still often have a negative perception of social media outlets. Indeed, the group said lots of employers regard the sites as "mere distractions" for their staff, rather than a "tremendous opportunity" for their firm.
Taleo Corporation added that establishing a good social network and relating this to an effective talent management strategy needs to be at "the top of successful business agendas" over the next few months.
With people's finances and living standards coming under increased pressure all the time these days, it's understandable that many are looking for new opportunities to ease the burden and improve their lives. But with businesses also facing financial strain, it's foolhardy and counterproductive not to engage with workers on the outlets they typically use to connect with others.