Facebook’s Role in Social Recruiting

With nearly 900 million monthly users, it’s no wonder recruiters have gravitated toward Facebook. In a global war for talent, recruiters aren’t leaving any stone unturned. Unlike the more professionally prim and proper LinkedIn, Facebook’s audience reach is seemingly endless.

Recruiters have taken notice. Among all of the social recruiting platforms, Facebook experienced the biggest surge in use from 2011 to 2012, according to a social recruitment survey by software provider Jobvite. Roughly 66 percent of recruiters actively used the social network to find talent during Jobvite’s most recent survey period, up from 55 percent from last year.

“Facebook is different,” said Dan Finnegan, Jobvite’s CEO. “If LinkedIn is really strong with white-collar professionals, Facebook is, like, everybody. The reach of Facebook is so pervasive.”

Yet as social recruiting continues to shed off its new-car smell, how, exactly, are recruiters to maximize Facebook’s value?

LinkedIn’s use is clear — it was designed specifically for professional networking, sourcing and job posting — and Twitter has grown into a sounding board for new job openings, though the kinks here are also still being worked out. Through YouTube, both candidates and employers are able to harness video sharing capabilities — for some, as a sort of video resume.

What role does Facebook play in the social recruiting shuffle? The answer, industry experts say, isn’t entirely clear. Many are still experimenting.

What is clear, however, is that recruiters should not be using the social network solely for screening potential hires’ online behaviors. That is certainly an option, but it is also too reactive. And in some instances — say when a recruiter asks a candidate for their log-in information — Facebook’s screening capabilities may also lead to a legal nightmare, said Chirag Nangia, founder and CEO of online background screening technology firm Reppify.

The real key is for recruiters to take a proactive approach when using the medium as a way to build community and brand awareness long before an individual is considered a candidate. Elaine Orler, founder and chairman of the Talent Board, a nonprofit that specializes in recruitment studies, broke Facebook’s recruitment uses into two categories: push and pull.

The push is the act of using the medium to market information about the firm in which they are recruiting for. People want to work for companies because they identify with their brand, Orler said, just as consumers choose where to shop.

And Facebook is a central arena for brand presence, especially as it continues to strive toward being the all-encompassing hub for the Internet. “Fan pages [on Facebook] are an extension of career brand,” Orler said. “Not having one could be a disqualifier from the candidate’s perspective. They’ll search Facebook for that type of information before going to the company website.”

The pull — recruiters sourcing candidates for specific jobs — has yet to fully evolve on Facebook, however.

Third-party operators, namely BranchOut, have aimed to create a more LinkedIn-like experience on Facebook, hoping that users will gravitate toward the medium for professional promotion.

While some of these operators have experienced modest success, the idea has yet to catch on mainstream, said Anthony Andre, senior vice president of social media strategy at TMP Worldwide LLC, a recruitment advertising agency.

“Can Facebook be a sourcing mechanism? Absolutely,” Andre said. “But it will take a little while to get there.”

Or maybe it won’t take long at all.

Dow Jones, which owns The Wall Street Journal, reported in July that Facebook is planning to launch its own job board. Both BranchOut and Jobvite were named as firms involved in the service, the report said, along with Work4Labs, another social recruiting service. But a Facebook spokesman declined to comment in the report, saying that the company doesn’t comment on “rumor and speculation,” thus leaving the recruitment industry to wait and see.

Frank Kalman is an associate editor of Talent Management magazine. He can be reached at fkalman@talentmgt.com.