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Finding a job often isn’t about what you know, it’s about who you know. Google is taking that concept to the extreme — and applying some computer science to it.

Google has come up with an idea for an automated system to analyze employees’ social graphs to help find top job candidates. The system would consider factors including the performance of the employee at the company — under the assumption that the friends of top performers are more likely to be top performers themselves.

Google describes the system in a patent application, made public Oct. 17, called “Identifying Prospective Employee Candidates via Employee Connections.” The filing shows just how sophisticated recruiting has become in the tech industry, amid fierce competition for engineering talent.

It’s not clear if Google has actually implemented this approach, or whether the company plans to. But one of the inventors listed on the application is Google VP Sunil Chandra, whose purview includes human resources.

This would be a logical approach for Google, which places a premium on its employees being “Googley,” by conforming to the values the company holds dear. It should stand to reason that if you know a certain population is the right fit for your corporate culture, someone who’s well-connected to those people may be better able to fit in.

As explained in the patent application, the system uses a “candidate identification engine” to analyze the social graphs of employees, identifying and ranking potential job candidates based on factors including the number of employees the potential candidate is connected with, and the strength of those connections.

The filing notes that the system “is advantageous as the employer can initially identify the candidate without involving the employee, and once identified, can then confer with the employee.”

“Moreover, using the top ranked employees to identify prospective employee candidates may produce a more reliable set of desirable prospective employee candidates,” the patent application explains.

So if you’re looking to snag a job at Google, you might want to find yourself some Googler friends. Just make sure they’re good at their jobs if you want to be considered seriously for an opening. And in the meantime, it seems we may have found an answer to the question “what is Google+ good for?”

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