But can social media giant match LinkedIn’s success without infuriating its nearly 1 billion users?
By Harpaul Sambhi
For the past week, rumours have been swirling that Facebook is set to enter the recruitment industry.
This isn’t the first time the spectre of the social media giant friending the recruitment field has come up — I heard similar rumours in late 2011, when Facebook partnered with Direct Employers and the United States Labor Department.
Generally, it’s a positive step. But many HR tech experts are wondering if Facebook is equipped to provide valuable insights for employers without upsetting its nearly one billion users.
LinkedIn, which has been very successful in the recruitment realm, is a “professional network” — profiles generally don’t feature information about a user’s 3 a.m. activities with additional photos and videos to boot.
Facebook will have to segment this personal information from employers, but it will have one nasty time getting its user base of 910 million people on board.
I’ve long believed social networks have a great ability to help employers recruit. Personal opinions aside, social networks are making every user that much closer. We are all just an Inmail, tweet or poke away from being connected to a celebrity we once thought would be impossible to communicate with.
For employers, recruitment used to be about attending job fairs, posting ads in newspapers and using job boards to lure candidates. But, with social media, the game has changed.
With US$101.5 million, or 54 per cent of LinkedIn’s last quarter’s revenue, coming from Hiring Solutions, it is easy to see why Facebook would enter the US$120 billion recruitment market. However, Facebook’s involvement will be small and simple at first. It will likely be looking to launch a job board in the next few months allowing candidates to apply to opportunities, much like LinkedIn’s job board. Whether this job board is integrated with a company’s page is unknown — if so, it will likely be a future iteration.
I cannot see Facebook putting much emphasis on recruitment until it segments a user’s profile. This dovetails into some of my concerns with Facebook entering the market.
Can it protect and ensure users’ data is safe from the prying eyes of potential or current employers? How will it deal with human rights concerns by removing the personal data associated to a profile?
My personal impression would be Facebook’s job board would be more of an aggregator that redirects applicants to an employer’s website or page. It would have to invest a lot of architectural redesign to divide the grey area of personal and professional life. However, Facebook should first consider whether its users even want this.
I’ve spoken to 4,500 HR professionals and CIOs at conferences in the last year, and I’ve consistently heard: “Facebook is personal. I don’t want my employees to see what I’m doing or what I’m doing on the weekend with my kids. With LinkedIn, I’m fine connecting with my colleagues.”
Assuming Facebook can replicate LinkedIn’s previous quarter’s result without the infrastructure and recruitment solutions LinkedIn possesses, it would amount to just 9.2 per cent of Facebook’s revenue (Facebook posted US$1 billion revenue in the first quarter of 2012).
The natural negative reaction Facebook may receive from users, unless it completely redesigns its profiles, plus LinkedIn’s momentum indicates to me Facebook’s focus on recruitment won’t be as heavy as its investment on mobile or the core focus — advertising.
Nonetheless, this will be another option for HR to choose from when it comes time to spend their recruitment dollars.
Harpaul Sambhi is the CEO of Careerify, a company that develops social recruiting tools focused on employee referral programs with offices in Toronto and San Francisco. He is the author of Social HR, published by Carswell, which sheds insights in how social media is impacting human resources. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (416) 840-6216 or visit www.careerify.net for more information.