Business-specific social networks have the attention of both employers and job seekers, and millions are using the sites.

LinkedIn, the best-known career social network, reported 89% growth in members from 2005-2006. The site has grown from 85,000 members in its first year to over eight million members.

Members of LinkedIn Social Networking Web Site, 2003-2006 (thousands and % increase vs. prior year)

Some large US employers are conducting searches on social networking sites to recruit highly qualified prospects that may not be actively job hunting. Today’s job hunters are not only looking at online classifieds, but also are likely to view themselves as brands to be marketed online.

Young workers in particular use business-oriented social networking sites for career development, according to a survey by SelectMinds. For young workers, these sites function as a "job search engine," providing them with career information that is pre-qualified by its users and, therefore, credible.

Young workers are more likely to view career networks as beneficial. Nearly three quarters of GenYers said they viewed these networks as very important, compared with 66% of workers age 30-39 and 61% of workers age 40+.

eMarketer senior analyst Jeffrey Grau notes that "the proliferation of social networking sites, blogs and online discussion groups organized around niche topics enables employers to find job candidates with specialized knowledge and skills."

Profiles of Five Major Business-Oriented Social Networking Web Sites, 2006

Mr. Grau added that the rise of business-specific social networks "does not reduce the importance of job-hunting sites. Besides the large, general job boards, there are a host of niche sites that specialize by, among other things, industry, geographic region and occupation. Niche sites such as these are ideal arenas for online advertisers looking to target their messages."

Via eMarketer