Alumni Networks Meet Affinity Circles

The next time you get one of those whiny alumni spam pitches for money, pause for a minute before tossing it. It just might be hiding a slick social network-powered backchannel to get your next job.

Affinity Circles provides white-label social network sites for over 140 universities and various professional and fraternal organizations. It’s an effective way to layer an online social network onto one of the most ubiquitous traditional offline social networks – alumni associations.

The company’s social networking engine makes it easy to not just find out the usual alumni events and such, but to connect with other alumni online who share an interest, job function or city. Want to know what it’s really like working for a certain company, or doing a particular kind of job function? Hit up your online alumni network.

Today, Affinity Circles took the wraps off their new job service/recruiting service where Fortune 500 employers can reach out to alums of specific universities and offer not just jobs but career paths – and those same alums get red-carpet consideration not afforded the horde.

From an alum’s point of view, it’s the online version of the old boy (and girl) network for getting a foot in the door to places that don’t need to advertise. Talk to other alumni at that company to get the scoop on what it’s like there. For the 20 or so companies now participating, it’s a way to reach desirable hires in the labor market who may not be actively looking for a job.

Companies can cast their offer as broadly as recruiting to all Affinity Circles’ networks, or as narrow as say graduates of Santa Clara University, Class of 2001 who are interested in a particular corporate career path composed of specific job openings. While the employers get aggregate data about the number of potential applicants, they only get personal data when you choose to raise your hand online.

“There’s about 15 million people who could be using this tool, and only about 650,000 currently levering this tool,” said Chuck Taylor, Affinity Circles’ VP for Marketing. “So there’s a lot of people, especially in this economy, that have a competitive tool, and don’t even realize it.”

So, if you happen to be eligible to join the online social network of one of this companies client schools, you may have a pragmatic reason to join now than just wanting a discount on logo-ed hoodies at the online student store.