There are a billion people on Facebook, yet it has not made the impact that LinkedIn has as a candidate sourcing tool.  Are employers wasting a billion opportunities to find the right talent?  And why haven’t recruiters and talent acquisition specialists been able to harness the potential of Facebook sourcing?

  • While LinkedIn is a network geared toward professionals, Facebook is for everyone – from your kids to your grandmother.  This means that it takes a little more work to filter down to viable candidates.

  • Facebook tends to lack meaningful data.  That is, a Facebook profile might indicate a love of Game of Thrones and a “complicated” relationship status, but it won’t reveal which degree was graduated with or what core skills are used daily on the job.  The lack of detailed education and career information makes it difficult to sift through the enormous amount of data at hand.

  • You don’t “connect” on Facebook.  You “friend.”  And while “acquaintance” may be a better word for most of your Facebook “friends,” there is a different set of expectations.  A friend hooks you up with a sweet gig.  A recruiter or hiring manager makes a balanced decision about the value you can add to an organization.  In talent acquisition, a friend request is not a promise to place in an opening.

The weighted expectations of a friend request is particularly an issue for a companies employing many young professionals, like KellyMitchell.  It can be difficult to navigate the line between the personal community created in high school and college and the professional network that is being built today.

Should talent acquisition specialists and hiring managers be transparent, yet professional on Facebook?  Or should they set up a separate recruiting-focused account?

 Glen Cathy at Boolean Black Belt weighs both sides of the debate over on his blog.  He leans toward maintaining one “Profersional” (professional, yet personal) account, assessing that:

  • Technically, Facebook terms of service allow users only one profile each.

  • Social recruiting is about being transparent and personable.  Maintaining a single profile is more authentic than hiding behind a secondary profile.

  • Whether you have one or two profiles, “friending” candidates gives them a particular impression of your relationship with them.  Connecting with candidates on LinkedIn or Twitter draws a cleaner line between a professional business relationship and friendship.

  • Privacy settings give you some control over what can be seen by your inner circle vs. the rest of the world, eliminating some of the reasons why you might want a separate account.

  • Keeping up with one profile on Facebook is enough work, and it can be difficult to split your profile and manage two versions of yourself.

Whether you decide to maintain one profile or two…

Don’t forget about the lurkers.  

Candidates may be searching for you more than you think, whether they look you up after you left a message, met you at a conference, or are connected to you through a friend.  Social networks have a huge influence on search engines, so it is most likely that a search for your name is going to pull up your social media profiles in the first few search results.

Even if you do not focus on making professional connections on Facebook, know that your profile is highly visible to anyone.

Don’t give up on Facebook sourcing just yet.

The workforce is changing, and, as KellyMitchell CEO, Cassandra Sanford, articulates,

“Career paths are more like jungle gyms today rather than ladders.”

Instead of working their way up a highly organized structure, professionals are increasingly pursuing independent careers as contract and freelance workers.  This trend is unlikely to change as Millennials pour into the workforce.  These Gen-Yers desire flexibility and tend to blur the lines between work and play.  They want to work with their friends, and hang out with their coworkers after work.

As work continues to get more personal, both candidates and recruiters are going to get better at blending the personal and professional in real life as well as in their virtual presence.

Facebook may not be the data gold mine that sourcing pros would like today.  However, the world is changing.  We are going to share more about work with our friends, and more about our personal lives with the people we work with.  Facebook is still an essential avenue for attracting candidates, and there are a billion reasons why it can’t be ignored.

Image from Rafiq Phillips

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