Facebook experiments with job posting tab for employers

Will it upend LinkedIn’s domination of social media recruitment?

Facebook experiments with job posting tab for employers
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, speaks in Paris on Jan. 17. The company is entering the recruitment game with a new jobs tab. Philippe Wojazer (Reuters)

LinkedIn may enjoy considerable popularity as an employment-oriented social networking service, but it looks like Facebook is hoping to get in on the action.

The social network recently announced it would launch a new page tab for companies that want to recruit talent directly through their Facebook pages. The jobs tab quietly appeared late in 2016 in a test-run for the company.

“Based on behaviour we’ve seen on Facebook — where many small businesses post about their job openings on their page — we’re running a test for page admins to create job postings and receive applications from candidates,” said a spokesperson.

Employers can then add a tab and post available job openings, and the candidate can then apply to the jobs while logged into Facebook. The application is then sent directly to the employer’s page administrator via Facebook Messenger, according to those who have seen it in action.

“When you can apply, apparently you can pull your profile data in with you into the process of filling out an application,” said Michael Fauscette, chief research officer at G2 Crowd, an online consultancy company, from his office near Philadelphia, Pa. “It’s kind of like Facebook Connect.”

Potential upsides

In terms of reach and number of active users, Facebook is the largest of all social media sites, according to online statistics portal Statista in Hamburg, Germany.

As of September 2016, Facebook had 1.71 billion monthly active users, while LinkedIn lingered well behind with 106 million monthly active users.

“(With) LinkedIn, the average user time is something like 17 minutes per month, compared to Facebook, which is 50 minutes per day,” said Michael Soos, business development manager for the Canadian region at Recruiting Social, a Toronto firm that specializes in social media recruitment. “For a company who is looking at cultural cues about the employee, their life outside of work, I think Facebook is kind of the winner there.”

There are plenty of websites that allow job seekers to search for openings and submit resumés, but no sites command such a large presence as Facebook, he said.

“They have all the pieces there — they have the users, the information (those active users are inputting more information every minute of every day) — so it’s about bringing those pieces together, (but) will it work for business, will it work for candidates?”

For job seekers who are not actively searching for a new opportunity but are willing to listen to an offer, the social media behemoth could become a way to connect, said Soos.

“It’s essentially a way to attract passive job seekers, directly through Facebook,” he said.

“In terms of reaching candidates, I think it’s a great idea. You’re reaching candidates where they already are, and they are spending more time arguably than on LinkedIn.”

There are those who are on the fence, said Tamer Rafla, founder and CEO of Montreal-based software firm Klujo.

“They wouldn’t mind talking to a recruiter, they wouldn’t mind exploring other options. This is where Facebook becomes valuable, where you can target them using information they have in the profile.”

Potential downsides

But accepting multiple resumés from job applicants might not be so easy for Facebook administrators, especially for larger companies.

“When someone applies to a job which is on their Facebook tab, what happens is the recruiter gets a message on Facebook. So now he has to manually take this information, go onto his system, and fill it in manually. It might have some adoption issues,” said Rafla.

It could be tough to manage all those incoming applications, said Soos. “If it’s too cumbersome for a business to run, they are not going to do that.”

One of the secrets of a good recruiting tool is making the process work seamlessly on both ends, he said.

“If it’s too intrusive for a candidate — putting all that information into one single source — then that won’t work either.”

And Facebook might not be the ideal way to attract C-suite talent, according to Angela Savona, metro market manager at Robert Half Technology in Toronto.

“You might want to use a more traditional avenue for recruiting those individuals: They might use more of the traditional, professional kind of platforms,”  she said. “(But) if you are looking for a web designer or someone who is coming from a creative background, they’re going to be all over (social media).”

The Facebook jobs tab may become a way to find entry-level positions, according to Dan Ryan, principal at Ryan Search & Consulting in Franklin, Tenn.

“In some types of opportunities, it might be a good fit, but for organizations that are looking for a more serious component of their talent acquisition strategy, I don’t think the Facebook tab would really fit that niche,” he said. “They do have a big network, but there are so many other things going on in the Facebook world that are not necessarily what I would call business-oriented.”

LinkedIn doesn’t have to worry about its position in the market today (especially considering its recent acquisition by Microsoft) but, in the future, it might have to look more seriously at a competitor to its throne, said Ryan.

“LinkedIn is a very structured, business-oriented-type network, whereas Facebook is almost kind of a free-for-all,” he said. “If I were a job seeker who is looking seriously for my next role, Facebook wouldn’t be my first stop.”

“LinkedIn has a strong position but there is no doubt in my mind that something will occur that will change that, but I don’t think what I see from Facebook right now is a serious threat,” he said.

It’s a challenge for Facebook, said Fauscette.

“I don’t think it’s going to be the LinkedIn killer, at least not for the foreseeable future, because habits are hard to break,” he said, as most companies still post job openings on LinkedIn, so “you’d have a hard time breaking that process.”

Facebook will face the challenge of early adoption issues when it starts running it out to everybody, said Rafla. 

“Most Fortune 500 companies will say, ‘Why would you send a message to my recruiter on Facebook? I want them to come to my (online recruiting) system since I have paid millions of dollars, I want the data to be there.’”

Other options

Other social media companies are also dipping toes into the online recruiting pool: Twitter has cards, where rich media such as high-resolution images and videos can be added to outgoing tweet, and Google just implemented its jobs API (application program interface), according to Soos.

Google jobs API uses an algorithm to enhance a job search and “identify across the Internet in general how job descriptions are formulated,” he said, adding it helps the job seeker discover the buzzwords that are used in job search postings and then receive personalized job ads that are relevant. “(Google) wants the jobs to come to the users themselves.”

A lot of people in recruitment will tweet different roles they are working on or post a quick blurb on LinkedIn, said Savona.

“It’s definitely an avenue of outreach for maybe a quicker response from a larger group of candidates at any one time, as opposed to just going and looking at resumés and calling people one by one,” she said. “It’s a quicker response option to hit multiple people at one given time.”

Recruiters must expand their net on social media, according to Savona.

“If you’re only relying on one social media avenue, you’re only getting a portion of the top talent out there,” she said. “What if the top individual out there on the market isn’t necessarily always checking their Facebook page? Then you are missing out.”

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