LinkedIn, the social network for "professionals", could actually be benefiting from the downturn, says the BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones. That's because the site's value proposition really kicks in for those that have or fear that they might be about to lose their job.
The site provides a simple way to publish a resume online along with references, as well as sophisticated tools for networking in order to make new introductions, check out potential new employers, and get spotted by recruiters.
Referring to LinkedIn's job hunting utility, Cellan-Jones once jokingly called it a "Facebook for losers". But in this time of economic uncertainly, LinkedIn, and other sites like it, could turn out to be the real winners.
Boasting 28 million sign-ups, perhaps unsurprisingly, LinkedIn has seen an influx of new members from the financial sector, reports Cellan-Jones.
The numbers joining from investment banking have doubled, and it's pretty clear why. LinkedIn conducted a poll and found out that 42% of its members felt that the current economic climate made their jobs less secure. In other words, they fear the axe is about to fall and they think that being part of a professional network could help them find another job.
If that's true, then LinkedIn won't be the only online property to benefit, with traditional job sites such as Monster.com also likely to see a spike in interest, along with direct competitors such as the lesser-known Xing, which is number one in its native Germany and is aggressively expanding throughout Europe and elsewhere.
Interestingly, an ad campaign currently running on some of London's more prominent underground stations takes a thinly disguised pop at LinkedIn. The slogan reads: "Start Networking - Not Just Linkin'" (see photo top right). It might equally apply to Facebook of course.
However, while a downturn may increase LinkedIn, Xing and similar sites' utitily, leading to more time spent on each site and new members, the online ad market will likely suffer in return, and crucially, new company hires will dwindle. And it's recruiters who are paid members, through which LinkedIn et al. make most of their money.
Photo credit: Nick Burcher