Why Facebook Will Stink As A Recruitment Tool

Reports are surfacing about Facebook poised to jump into the #HR and #recruitment game by becoming the newest job posting site in coming months. While this may be causing tremors among the executives at LinkedIn and Monster.com, the ones who should be most concerned are Facebook users who will likely be risking their personal and private information if they choose to conduct their job search via Facebook.

 

The move toward recruitment has been piloted since last October when Facebook announced a partnership with the U.S. Labour Department and other partners to provide job-hunting resources. At the time of the announcement, Facebook stated, “[T]he partnership will explore and develop systems where new job postings can be delivered virally through the Facebook site at no charge.”

 

At least three companies are already working with Facebook, namely BranchOut (aren’t you now glad you ignored those invitations to join?)  Jobvite, and Work4Labs. It is speculated a launch could come as early as August and pose some difficult business dilemmas for LinkedIn.

 

Jobvite, currently the leader in job recruitment platform software for the social web, recently published statistics that “[n]early 9 out of 10 job seekers (86%) have a social media profile. Facebook has the majority with the 84% job seekers, followed by 39% using Twitter and 35% using LinkedIn. Nearly 1/3 of job seekers (31%) have a profile on all three networks[,] […] and 18.4 million Americans credit Facebook as a source that led to their current job.”

 

So what does Facebook taking on a recruitment angle mean for both employers and potential employees? There are a number of consequences and not many fall in the favour of job seekers. For instance, in a job interview it’s illegal to ask any questions about marital status, age, religion, or politics (among other things).  However, many Facebook profiles already contain this type of information and could possibly incur prejudices against job seeking candidates and essentially pre-screen them from the hiring process. Some might be naïve enough to think employers would look past the profile picture—but if your face (attractiveness does factor in the hiring process according to this research) or skin colour doesn’t match the recruiter’s expectations there are a number of ways one could be pre-screened out of the full hiring process before even getting started.

 

Most of us use Facebook primarily for friends and family. Even if you manage Brand Pages on Facebook, your personal profile is just that—personal. As Seinfeld’s George Costanza once emphatically declared, “Worlds cannot collide!” Can you imagine a scenario where a potential employer already knows which NFL team you love AND whom you’re voting for in the next election? Let’s think on that for a minute. Even if on the off-chance things happen to be the same do you really want to take a chance? And let’s not even think about the implications of all those pictures and inappropriate (for business) quotes and “inspirational” sayings you’ve posted and shared publicly.

 

What happens when your current employer sees that Jane from Company X sent you a job posting via Facebook? Will your boss then freak out because he didn’t know you were looking (you’re not, Jane sent it to you to see if you might know someone perfect for the job)? Or will your coworkers now suspect your “dentist appointment” was really a job interview for the job posting featured so prominently on your Timeline last week (even though you thought you had deleted it)? Are the margins of error here just too cringe-worthy or what?

 

These areas also pose great risks for employers whose HR departments could face scrutiny and even lawsuits if they are suspected of using personal information to screen out potential candidates. The risks are broad and offer too much potential for abuse. Facebook is not exactly in business to protect users’ privacy and personal information so there exists potential for Terms of Service changes swinging even further away from protecting the information users voluntarily upload.

 

Yes, it is a tough job market out there. Yes, we are becoming a more social society. But boundaries must be maintained. If anything this news is a huge wake-up call for LinkedIn, Monster.com, Workpolis.com and other websites dedicated to job seekers and employers. It is also a wake-up call for companies who utilize social media to recruit candidates.

 

Now boasting more than 150 million users, LinkedIn should have seen this coming and had a strategy in place to nip this challenge to its authority in the bud. Here are some quick stats about LinkedIn and its users:

  • The standard user of LinkedIn is male (57.9%) and aged between 25 and 54years (67.7%); compared to the previous year, the percentage of teenagers (18-24) has grown more than other age groups.
  • The industries with the highest concentration worldwide are High Tech (14.3%), Finance (12.4%) and Manufacturing (10.1%) with significant gap according to areas, while industries with lower concentration are Service (2.3%), Legal (1.9%) and Agriculture (0.5%).
  • The job functions with the highest concentration worldwide are Entrepreneurship (10.8%), Sales (9.5%), Operations (8.3%) while functions with lower concentration are Purchasing (0.7%), Product Management (0.7%) and Military and Protective Services (0.6%).

And the one of the most revealing stats is:

  • 39% of the members is a Manager, Director, Owner, Chief Officer or Vice President.

 

This basically translates into having the ears, CVs, and networks of some of the world’s most connected and social executives. And LinkedIn, thanks to its (mostly) useless “Premium” level of membership has neglected to leverage these users and their usage of LinkedIn. Moreover, LinkedIn’s fee structure is prohibitive in today’s “free” social media world. It’s an archaic approach serving only to discourage adoption and participation, and creates a two-tiered system where one would be much more user-friendly and simple instead.

 

LinkedIn leadership needs to heed the rallying cry of the masses preferring to keep photos of their summer vacations and the intricate details of their resumes apart. Here are 3 easy moves they could make right now to solidify their position as THE place to connect professionally:

  1. Eliminate the pay-wall and open up the supposed ”Premium”  features of LinkedIn to all users and position LinkedIn as the online venue where one can find the right candidate or be the right candidate.
  2. Establish partnerships, linkages, and reciprocity agreements with the Big Names in job search, namely Monster.com and others in regional markets where applicable.
  3. Enable the sharing and posting of jobs easier for both recruiters and job seekers. Right now most of this occurs within the Group feature of LinkedIn. This works but it could be much more efficient if profiles (both personal and Company) were maximized to invite connection, introduction, and sharing among networks and connections.
  4. BONUS: Upgrade site security. After last month’s fiasco where more than 6 million LinkedIn accounts were suspected of having been hacked, the holes in LinkedIn’s internal security were cast into the glaring light of the viral internet. Secruity needs to be beefed up and user-trust restored.

 

We all know the benefits of social media for business and pleasure.

What are your thoughts? Do you see any benefits to Facebook expanding its services into recruitment? Would you be comfortable if a potential employer contacted you via Facebook?

6 thoughts on “Why Facebook Will Stink As A Recruitment Tool

  1. Wow Susie, how do you really feel about this? I think you bring up some really great points both about the intrusiveness of Facebook and the short-sightedness of LinkedIn. It will be interesting to see how this plays out!

    • Susie Parker says:

      Hi Jim! I had to write a catchy headline! 😉

      It will be very interesting to see how it plays out. LinkedIn should be capitalizing on Facebook’s lack of positioning as a professional networking site. Thanks for stopping by, Jim. Always a pleasure!

  2. Colin Finlay says:

    Great post Susie! A lot of HR professionals that I know just stay clear of social media when it comes to assessing candidates. However they can be sometimes used to advertise effectively.

    • susieparker says:

      Thanks, Colin! The negatives far outweigh the positives for candidates for sure.

  3. Candice G. Ball says:

    I would be nothing short of horrified if a potential employer contacted me through Facebook. I hope LinkedIn steps up its game because I regard it as the only exclusively professional social media website.