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Clash of the Titans: Facebook v. LinkedIn for Social Recruiting

February 14th, 2012 by Kat Jenkins

Clash of the Titans: Facebook v. LinkedIn for Social Recruiting

LinkedIn has long been the established leader in social recruiting, with 150 million+ members and an ever broadening range of tools for recruiters and job seekers alike—but Facebook may have something to say about that.  At more than 5 times the user base of LinkedIn, Facebook is well positioned to challenge the conventional wisdom that LinkedIn is for professional life and Facebook is for the personal.

It’s not just the compelling size of the user base—it’s the level of engagement.  Facebook is the second-highest trafficked site (only Google gets more traffic) and 74% of Internet users are on Facebook every day (note that’s 74% of Internet users—not Facebook users).  And users themselves are open to Facebook for job hunting; according to JobVite, 48% of job seekers have completed a job search-related task on Facebook in the past year.

Tools like eQuest and Work4Us enable fans to see and apply for jobs at companies they already have an affinity for. New functions recommend potential matches for a job based on a user’s friends, taking the power of referrals to a whole new level.  These tools are robust and full-featured, and connect seamlessly into candidate management and tracking tools like Taleo—making Facebook as seamless a platform for recruiters as for job seekers.

Recent real life examples have proven Facebook to be an effective recruiting tool for hourly and entry level jobs especially.  Hard Rock Café managed recruiting for its recently opened Florence, Italy location entirely through Facebook, staffing the store cost-effectively and creating a positive user experience and affinity for the company even among candidates who didn’t land jobs.  More recently , Macy’s, Inc. has had great success recruiting through Facebook for a range of positions, including college internships, beauty careers, and seasonal workers, showing Facebook is a truly viable platform for this type of recruiting.

Now Facebook has stepped up to tackle the power of LinkedIn head on, adding its own new Social Jobs platform.  The massive social network has partnered with the US Department of Labor and other agencies to provide advice and tools for job hunters as well as tools for recruiters.

Facebook also has the advantage of size—at more than 5 times the size of LinkedIn’s network and continuing to grow.  But size alone may not be enough of an advantage – a key issue is the different ways users think about the two platforms. As we said before, LinkedIn is clearly establish and perceived as a professional network, and users have geared their LinkedIn profiles accordingly.

Facebook is a much more personal platform, where users tend to share aspects of their lives at a deep level –personal  details, photos, location , etc. . New features like Timeline and frictionless sharing (which lets apps share everything from what music you’re listening to to what article you just read on Yahoo!) and Facebook’s penchant for changing privacy settings exponentially increase the content users are exposing—often unwittingly.   This creates potential risk not only for job seekers (who will need to be extremely careful about privacy settings as well as the content they choose to share), but also for employers, who will have to carefully walk the line in terms of how they use the information they can find on Facebook.

Is Facebook an incredibly powerful tool for recruiting? Yes, absolutely, and well worth exploring.  But there’s also potential for an incredibly powerful backlash—so proceed with caution.

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