How to Recruit on Facebook, Part 2

In “How to Recruit on Facebook, Part 1,” I have discussed the importance of company branding, reputation, and the power of talent communities for building a strong talent pipeline. However, recruiting on Facebook doesn’t end there. Beyond active talent communities, Facebook allows you to graph search through public information on people’s profiles. To build a sustainable talent pipeline that keeps growing, combine Facebook graph search and talent communities.

On Facebook you can send message requests (kind of like InMails) and friend requests for free to anyone. However, message requests will end up in the hidden inbox unless the recipient is your Facebook friend. Recipients of message requests will not get notified of your message unless they manually click into Message Requests and select Filtered Messages. Only a fraction of people on Facebook check their hidden inbox. Your response rate will be comparable to LinkedIn InMail if not close to zero.

Advanced recruiters try to grab the person’s attention and increase their response rate by:

  • Pinging the person:
    • Connecting on LinkedIn
    • Sending a LinkedIn InMail
    • Sending an email
    • Looking up the person on Facebook by their email or phone number or full name
    • Sending a message request and a friend request
  • Waiting for response:
    • Waiting for a sign of activity like email read receipt or InMail response or connection request acceptance
  • Outreach:
    • Once a friend request is accepted, recruiting pros go to Facebook Messenger and call the person directly and leaving a message
    • Calling their phone and leaving a message

Pro Tip: You can verify or double check the owner of any email or a phone number by typing them in the Facebook search before emailing or calling

Pro Tip: You can find anyone’s [userID] email by noticing their [userID] which generally is a random string of numbers or a nickname and follows after and before any special characters like equal sign or question mark or ampersand, e.g. OR

Tanya Groups

Tanya Bourque’s Facebook Groups

Pro Tip of the Day — The Secret Facebook Recruiting Hack:

Go to any person’s “About” section. By scrolling down, find the groups they are part of because by default Facebook shows everyone’s public groups. Find a mutual group which will say “Joined” or request to join their group(s).

You will either be automatically accepted to the group or receive a notification of approval. Write something in the mutual group and tag who person you want to talk to. They will receive a notification about your post, and most people obsessively check their Facebook notification.

If the group posting requires an admin approval, simply comment on some really old post in the group tagging the person. If the recipients won’t check their notification, chances are that they have either email notification enabled or SMS notification enabled. They will eventually receive an email and/or a text message from you via Facebook, and that’s your gold. If the person is not interested, they can simply remove the tag which will show up as their name crossed out or grayed out and that should be a clear sign of no interest.

Pro Tip: You can find anyone’s public groups by typing[userID]/groups/

For example, if I wanted to hit up Tanya Bourque, the CEO of OpExpert.

I would go to and find a mutual group “Executive Jobs” and post: “Hi, Tanya Bourque, we should talk! Did you see my message request? :)”

FB Group Message

Pro Tip of the Day — How to Get Into Anyone’s Facebook Notifications

How to Search for Talent on Facebook

For those of you who would like to build your own Facebook graph search URLs, here is a complete and simplified template on how to build Facebook graph search URL:[year1]/after/users-born/[year2]/before/users-born/[friends OR …]/me/[females/ OR males/][females OR males]/users-interested/[single/ OR …]str/[keywords1]/pages-names/[employees/ OR …][present/ OR past/]str/[keywords2]/pages-names/[employees/ OR …][present OR past]/intersect/

Breakdown of the different parts:

Color coding explained: Strings in black are a must. Blues are your keywords. Red strings are required for each keyword. Greens and golds are optional usually used for diversity search or timeline requirements. Pay attention to slashes. Remove any brackets [a OR b] as they are only a visual tool for user input; pick one or leave empty if color coding is optional. — initiates Facebook search

(Below are profile conditions which will limit results a lot. Use sparingly. Not adding these condition will show all.)

[year1]/after/users-born/[year2]/before/users-born/ – shows people born from year1 to year 2

[friends OR friends/friends OR non-friends OR friends/friends/non-friends]/me/ — only shows your Facebook friends which you can message right away, or friends of friends, or non-friends or only friends of friends

[females/ OR males/] — shows only female or male (for diversity search)

[females OR males]/users-interested/ – shows interest in females or males (for diversity search)

[single/ OR in-any-relationship/ OR in-open-relationship/ OR married/ OR in-civil-union/ OR in-domestic-partnership/ OR engaged/ OR its-complicated/ OR widowed/ OR separated/ OR divorced/ OR dating/] – shows relationship status, not meant for sourcing

(START — a point of no return. The next five parts relate to one keyword.)

Article Continues Below

str/ — required prefix to every keywords. In our template this is a start of the first keyword.

[keywords1] — Your first keyword. All keywords must follow Facebook URL syntax. Facebook will recognize spaces automatically and convert them into %20. If you are having trouble with this step, I would recommend this free URL Encoder/Decoder.

/pages-names/ – required suffix to every keyword. (This field designates the keyword as a node in the graph. It’s graph theory which allows us to search people based on their connection and relationship to each node. Essentially, each node in this Facebook graph search is represented by a named page instead of UID, that’s why /pages-named/.)

[employees/ OR visitors/ OR students/ OR major/students/ OR speakers/ OR likers/ OR residents/ OR home-residents/] — Think of this field as the category identifier of the previous keyword.

For our use case, keywords fall into seven categories — company and job title, university, academic major, interest, language, and location. If the keyword is a company like Hiretual or a job title like software engineer, then this field should be employees/. If it is an educational institution like UC Berkeley, then the category identifier should be students/. If it’s an academic major like computer science, then use major/students/. If you are looking for people who liked Wells Fargo, then this should be likers/. If the keyword is a language like English or python, then use speakers/. If the keyword is a location such as San Jose, California, then this field should be residents/ or originally from home-residents/.

[present/ OR past/] – This is an optional time constraint for your keyword e.g. looking for present employees or past employees? Present or past residents? I usually leave this empty to include all.

(To add more keyword repeat from START until you have enough.)

/intersect/ – You can have as many keywords as you want, but the results will be none. I don’t recommend going beyond 2-4 keywords and conditions because results are from the intersection of all your keywords. In Boolean this means keywords1 AND keywords2 AND keywords3 … AND keyword(n)

Crafting Facebook graph search URLs is quite complicated, as you can see. In terms of difficulty, it’s a step above writing Boolean strings. For those of you who are truly set out to conquer the graph search, I would recommend checking out the white paper about “Unicorn: A System for Searching the Social Graph” (Facebook Research).

Here are some Facebook graph search examples:

  1. Search for female present or past Google employees AND present or past software engineer employees:

  1. Search for present Uber employees AND present or past data-science employees:

  1. Search for present or past Hiretual employees AND past UC Berkeley students AND present marketing employees: /intersect/

  1. Search for present or past Facebook employees AND past Stanford students AND present engineering majors AND present or past residents San Francisco, California:,%20California/pages-named/residents/present/intersect/

FB results

Facebook graph search results for female Google employees AND software engineers

Parting Thoughts

Will Facebook give LinkedIn a run for its money? Namely the 65 percent of the LinkedIn revenue that comes from Talent Solutions whose paying users are recruiters? Well, now that you are armed with Facebook recruiting superpowers, why don’t you try and see for yourself?

If you enjoyed or found this article useful please like and share. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Ninh Tran is the Chief Relationship Builder of Hiretual, a “Recruiter’s Best Friend” and an AI recruiting platform of choice, built by recruiters for recruiters, that continually proves to make the Internet recruiting friendly and your life easier. Ninh is also a SourceConERE Media, and author, and has spoken on various subjects such as “AI & the Future of Recruiting”, “Today’s Sourcing Technology and Skills”, “Recruiting Workflow Automation”, “Hacking Authentic Leadership for Growth”, and “Selling is Human in the Digital World” at University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and global TA conferences. As Cal alumni, Ninh founded Trucksome to help emerging local food economies thrive while creating thousands of jobs for the unemployed right here in the US. Then he went on to Google before co-founding an executive search firm HireTeamMate where he leads the business and recruiting operations that placed hundreds under one year before founding Hiretual.
Reach Ninh via Twitter: @NinhTran09 


8 Comments on “How to Recruit on Facebook, Part 2

  1. I might be missing something, but the “Secret Facebook Recruiting Hack” doesn’t seem like more than spam. If you join a group that I’m moderating and you do this, you can be sure you’re not going to stay in there for long. Getting someone’s attention is one thing, but this just doesn’t seem like the best way to start a relationship… but then again, it may just be me.

    1. Kasia, the unsolicited nature of the ping leaves me feeling conflicted as well, but I believe that it differs from spam in that it takes so much work to find these specific individuals and it’s not bulk or commercial. Another recruiter brought it to my attention that when someone wants to actively offer you the opportunity to interview for a job, one should feel complimented not bothered. That sentiment has largely held true from what friends, who receive frequent recruiting messages, have told me.

      1. “One should feel complimented”? Why? Someone’s just doing their job. They’re getting paid to find candidates, I’m not getting paid for being one of the candidates found. I just don’t see that attitude on the market, but maybe I’m just that unlucky 😉
        As for the group, I would certainly not allow this type of behaviour in a group I’m moderating. It’s either valuable content for everyone or you should find a way to communicate it privately. Maybe that’s just me though 🙂

        1. I’m just relaying what educators have told me, and it’s flattering to be individually sought out and courted no matter the context, especially when a recruiter goes to the lengths of investing time and effort to get that one candidate’s attention. It’s not tantamount to a generic email blast. Trust me on that.

          What’s more, that recruiter is only doing his/her job if they are finding qualified and experienced candidates, not just any Joe off the street. Knowing this, one can take comfort in knowing that an organization thinks you are experienced and qualified and might even pay you more for the same work you’re doing now. I don’t anyone who would get offended by the implications of that, but any group moderator is incumbent to protect his/her members’ privacy. On this point, I completely agree.

          1. Ok I think you’re right, if it shows the effort it would make people feel nice 🙂 Consider me convinced. That being said… I still wouldn’t allow it in my group 😉

          2. Kasia and Matt, thank you so much for this discussion. In short, I agree with both of you. Unsolicited messages are spam. The lines between what makes spam and non-spam is relevance and interest. Whether it’s email, phone calls, LinkedIn InMails or Facebook groups tagging, anything can become spammy.

            Essentially, if all that a message does is trying to grab people’s attention and offer a scam deal then the content is not relevant and not interesting and therefore spam. No one likes spam. In fact, average American is being bombarded by a ton of ads everyday that one could argue are spammy. I would recommend this quick piece to read further:

            Ads are not the same as InMails or Facebook tagging. Most of us have learned to effectively ignore the former, but the latter will send you an email or a text message and otherwise get in your face. That’s why InMails or Facebook tagging should not be treated as Ads, a good rule of thumb.

            Tagging people is a feature of Facebook and they know about it. There’s already a moderation system in place to prevent this getting out of hand. If that’s the only thing someone does on Facebook, then they will get restricted from tagging people for some time. This technique might be new for recruiting, but there is nothing new under the sun.

            Like the email system, if you tag people too much with non-relevant and uninteresting content then there’s a report button for that since these features are free. Facebook Ads and LinkedIn InMails are paid. Notice that there is no report button for them. Facebook itself is run on Ads. Nonetheless, Facebook tagging is one of the most powerful tools out there for grabbing people’s attention. Relevance can be gauged and controlled by the sender prior to sending the message. Interest can only be predicted by the sender and measured after a response or lack of it. Imagine a tool that could predict candidate’s interest.

            Facebook tagging is done by group admins themselves to encourage engagement within their groups. Talent communities welcome reputable recruiters to post jobs and engage with their members. I am not suggesting that admins want spam, of course not, but they do want more engagement and more members. When people get hired from the group, the whole group benefits and so do the admins. If you are new to a group try to build a reputation with its members and the admin before you start tagging people. I would recommend using the group search feature for any candidate posts or comments in the group and responding to them instead. This achieves same effect. Make sure the message is relevant and interesting. If you can’t find anything and you suspect that the admins doesn’t approve of tagging people, tag them both in a post to ask for an introduction or ask a question about ‘whatever is hot topic in the group right now’. Start a real conversation, be creative and forge good relationships with the candidates before a job pitch.

            I would recommend everyone to read How to Recruit on Facebook, Part 1 in full, especially my parting thoughts where I mention that “Technique matters, but that is only half of the story. Don’t fall into the snare of minimizing the human factor. Treating people with dignity and respect early in the sourcing, recruiting, and hiring process is equally if not more important to make successful placements.” (

          3. My problem with the tagging is that it is public. Maybe it’s just my European nature that is so concerned about provacy 🙂 but I wouldn’t start a recruiting discussion with a potential candidate in front of all group members and potentially everyone on the candidate’s network (if the group is public). I wouldn’t want someone to do that with me either. Most privacy concerned users will of course use the “allow” feature for any new tags but not all. Nowadays many people are connected to their colleagues and even their bosses on Facebook which doesn’t really make me comfortable with the whole idea.

          4. Ralitsa thank you for sharing your thoughts with us! Privacy is a concern everywhere. I think being courteous to the candidate is a good rule of thumb. Your senses are right. This is Facebook, you can discuss common interests or whatever you have in common with the candidate. The goal would be to become friends to direct the person to your private message or email that you sent earlier or will send later. 🙂 I hope this helps.

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