A Facebook Job Board — Yawn

Someone I know who works for a struggling social media company recently asked if I’d heard about the excitement in the space. Not sure what he was referring to, I asked, and he mentioned Facebook’s plans to launch a job board. Oh, that. Yes — very exciting. I’m ecstatic — haven’t slept properly since I read about it. In case you missed the announcement, the board “will aggregate the job postings of third-party providers, making them available for search by Facebook users.” What an original idea. It’s not like one can find another site that aggregates jobs. Who says innovation is dead?

Given the less-than-stellar performance of Facebook’s stock and limited potential of the site to generate revenues, a job board looks like an easy solution to mop up some dollars that would otherwise go elsewhere. Given the perceived reach of Facebook, a job board is guaranteed to garner some interest from employers. The question for Facebook, or for that matter anyone posting jobs to it, is will it work?

What most recruiters know is that job boards are good for generating resumes, not necessarily filling jobs. The effectiveness of job boards is difficult to gauge, since there’s no hard data on just how many jobs posted on any board get filled by candidates who came to the board, or even the number of views of any posting. There’s no reason to believe it would be any different on Facebook, and a board may be even less effective than other boards, given how few people respond to ads on the site. The social media ad platform company Mediabrix estimates that the click through rate for ads on Facebook is just 0.05%. One way Facebook can counter this is by putting postings directly in users news feeds — presumably based on data in their profiles and timeline that suggests a particular career choice or skillset.

The Challenge for Facebook

Being able to match user profiles with job postings is difficult at best. Facebook profiles are not like those on Linkedin. The information that’s included is sparse, incomplete, and often does not indicate much about a person’s professional skills and interests. As an example, I looked for nurses in Minnesota — a very well-defined job with clear barriers separating the qualified from the unqualified. There are currently about 2.6 million Facebook members in Minnesota, or approximately half the population. There are about 56,000 nurses registered with the state. One would expect that about half of those are members of FBacebook, but the site can only identify about 1,840 members as nurses, and some of those may be false positives. If that’s how ineffective the site is for a job like nursing, it’s not likely to be much better for jobs that are less rigidly defined.

Obviously users can be encouraged to improve their profiles or upload resumes, but given Facebook’s propensity for abusing privacy such efforts may not be well received. But even if that worked, integrating job postings into users news feeds can become an irritant. This is the fundamental problem for Facebook: the site exists to promote social networking, which can include finding a job, but it is not the primary reason most users go there. Job postings would be intrusive in most conversations, and most people don’t “Like” them. If they’re off to one side, they may just be ignored, the same as most other ads on Facebook.

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And then there’s the problem of the content created by users on Facebook: most of it is unrelated to people’s professional interests. We’ve all read stories of how candidates have been excluded because of material they posted. Whether that’s appropriate or not is another matter, but the simple fact is that Facebook can very easily get a candidate kicked out of a recruitment process. I doubt that any design of the job board on Facebook will include a feature to block out content that doesn’t relate to the job. And it’s not inconceivable that Facebook will broadcast job hunting activity to one’s friends; we’d see notifications like “Lisa just applied to the job of Registered Nurse at Overcharge Memorial – 9:03 a.m.”

The Me-too Board

It’s difficult to imagine what Facebook could do that would improve on the job board model. Some things are not meant to go together, and social media and job postings are one such combination. What attracts people to social networks is content, much of it spontaneously generated from people they know. Nothing in that describes a job posting. A lot of people use their social networks (online and offline) to connect with people at employers, and a Facebook board could show connections in a person’s network who can connect them to a job — much like on LinkedIn and other sites, but Facebook connections are only one level deep. The technology to show multiple levels of connections can be built, but that fundamentally changes the perception (illusion) of the site as a place for friends to connect and share with each other.

So the Facebook job board would rely on the hope-and-pray model — hope that candidates see your postings and pray that qualified ones apply … the same as on any other job board. They should name it Jude — after the patron saint of desperate cases.

Raghav Singh, director of analytics at Korn Ferry Futurestep, has developed and launched multiple software products and held leadership positions at several major recruiting technology vendors. His career has included work as a consultant on enterprise HR systems and as a recruiting and HRIT leader at several Fortune 500 companies. Opinions expressed here are his own.


20 Comments on “A Facebook Job Board — Yawn

  1. Great article with thoughts to ponder.

    I just had a great webinar and phone call with a guy from Identified Employer Solutions. They have launched The First Professional Search Engine for Facebook and it actually sounds quite impressive! (If, of course it works). The platform is very similar to Linked In Recruiter, but they say that FB is 4X stronger than Linked In. There are some great features and reporting functions. They have a search engine tool as well as a job posting tool, which posts your company’s job postings on a customized careers tab right on the corporate FB page.

    Re/ the appropriate or not-so-appropriate content on one’s personal page that can be held against them, Identified seems to have created a search function that only pulls one’s professional information, that would pertain to a career. You can’t view one’s entire page or see any content other than their professional information.

    Worth checking out!

  2. Guess time will tell, but my initial thought is that too of a “Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnn”. This concept doesn’t overly excite me other than to see if this job board concept actually turns users away who want to stay away from jobs and headhunters and simply use Facebook for social networking purposes.

  3. I think it can become something big actually. There are 900 million people on the site spending an incredible amount of their online time right there on FB. FB is not just being used for sharing your holiday pics but more and more (at least in my experience) used to be a convenient place where I see posts for NYT, CNN, brands I like etc etc. Why not stay up to date on jobs that might interest me?

    The concept of the job board is not revolutionary of course but the potential to unlock access to 900 million people is big.

    I totally agree that the moment FB tries to show me matching jobs based on a clever algorithm it will fail. There has to be an opt-in and the user needs to select the jobs he wants to see. Then those jobs can show up in my timeline (only visible to me).

    I doubt that FB will force me to actually apply online with the potential of giving access to unwanted personal information. Don’t you think it would make more sense to have those jobs ultimately link to your ATS where you would apply? Like any other job board.

    As well, think about the potential power of sharing some jobs with friends etc.

    As long as they put the user in control of what is shown to me and if they protect my privacy (not their best thing I agree) this might be interesting.

    If the rumors are true of course

  4. Great article Raghav. Facebook has had one original idea and the rest is them swimming in the red ocean and hoping (I’ve said for years “hope” is never an effective strategy) they can generate enough interest to earn money…

    One item I’d like to ask about is your comment, “What most recruiters know is that job boards are good for generating resumes, not necessarily filling jobs.” Do you really think that most recruiters know this? I’m not so sure…

  5. 901 million people hold a lot of potential. What’s wrong with the ability to find a job on Facebook? The biggest companies such as McDonalds, Starbucks, and HP all have Job Posting Apps on their pages. Companies like Taco Bell and Boeing even have a separate Careers Pages for their Talent Community. (Check out the Ten Facebook Career Pages with the Largest Talent Communities: bit.ly/NIEQMT) More and more companies are recruiting through Facebook because of the amount of real networking that occurs. LinkedIn can often feel stale in its “social” aspects.

    I work for Identified and as Nancy Benford stated, Identified is one of the companies that has taken advantage of such large networks. The potential is there and more and more people are coming around to using Facebook as a viable platform to recruit.

    Check out employers.identified.com for more info

  6. Let’s face it, it could be either big thing OR a no thing.. It depends on how they execute it. If they go anywhere near their “opted in by default” approach, it will cause huge problems and lead to turning people off – but I doubt they will go this route. It will more likely be like the Marketplace, which you can turn to if you wish (for active job seekers in this case). I fully agree though that having an audience of nearly 1bln people, with many using it now as a portal to all the web makes for great potential.

    An interesting middle ground is if they can find a way to use the brand advocacy, interest and location based information they have on users to give people a choice to receive “lifestyle” related job matches – but I can see that being VERY difficult to get working nicely. Interest in a career area does not equal skills to do the work of course, so they would have to give opportunities to add more info in there – But I somehow just can’t imagine them yet going after LinkedIn territory to the extent of having a full professional profile and skills listings on there. I could be wrong though..

  7. I see this as yet another great opportunity for organizations with savvy marketing and recruiting leadership to increase their spend in digital profiling to crowdsource until the cows come home. FB will pirate out the most scalable and appropriate functionality of all of their alleged social competitors in the space and provide talent gatherers with more ways to build talent pools. If it wasn’t for the “me too” competitors out there, the spend for digital profiling would escalate exponentially. Please, by all means, bring on another “me too.” Formula One’s like LinkedIn will always capture the poll positions and checkered flags to gain the well deserved market and revenue share they are due. When the “me too’s” sell their data for a fraction of the price, I’m happy to savor occasional wins having adding them to the portfolio.

  8. Raghav – what a cogent well thought out article! Your example of finding only 1,800 nurses in MN with FB accounts is priceless and condemning for FB…


  9. News flash – Facebook is already being used as a job board – just as LinkedIn was long before they started charging money for it. PS: The entire twittersphere is one big job board. Yawn is right.

  10. I think facebook hasn’t really put much thought into a jobs board, at least not yet anyway. I feel it’s the peer pressure from Rick at Branchout in Zuck’s ear trying to get him to help with a failed system. Anyway maybe they haven’t figured it out yet but with the size of their audience I am sure they will, one day.

    BTW, a location based social jobs board featuring a mashup with facebook and google maps would be nice. Something like this perhaps, https://www.socialjobsboard.com/main/index/empty/3/0 where recruiters could find job seekers based on their geographic location and talk to them in real time via facebook style chat.

  11. Well put, Raghav, and I could not agree more (which should not surprise you). All in all, it shows very little in the way of innovation. And regarding Nancy’s plug for Identified, the same barriers and problems apply relative to incomplete profiles and lack of professional data. Thanks for the thoughtful posting Raghav!

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