Do Job Seekers 'Like' Facebook?
The answer may depend upon whom you ask. But experts indicate most job hunters still prefer to keep their personal and professional lives separate, and, at least for now, Facebook seems to remain more of a branding and informational tool for companies.
By Mark McGraw
Two recent surveys paint very different pictures of the role Facebook plays in job seekers' employment search.
One such poll, conducted by San Mateo, Calif.-based Jobvite Inc., garnered responses from 2,135 U.S. adults, 1,303 of whom are currently employed. Among them, 86 percent indicated they have an account on at least one of the six online social networks included in the study: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Within that group of social job seekers, 76 percent said they found their current position through Facebook.
That particular finding, however, should probably be taken with a grain of salt, says Jamie Winter, manager of the selection solutions group at Pittsburgh-based Development Dimensions International Inc.
"It's not surprising," he says, "that Jobvite's results indicated that Facebook is frequently utilized by job applicants to find jobs."
"Jobvite offers two applications that leverage Facebook for hiring talent. ... If the survey respondents were identified through Jobvite's system based on the use of Facebook, of course the percentage that report using Facebook to find a job will be higher than percentages reported in other surveys," says Winter.
"Most other data suggests that people keep their social lives [Facebook] separate from their professional lives [LinkedIn]. For those passive candidates that are identified through the Facebook network, they may not view Facebook as the primary method for which they found their job."
[A Jobvite spokesperson says the survey respondents were not identified through the company's system, and that a third-party polling company fielded the survey to reflect nationwide demographics.]
A survey conducted by London-based social media agency Link Humans suggests as much.
According to a recent Link Humans poll, nearly 70 percent of employers surveyed say they have never turned to Facebook in search of employment opportunities, with almost 95 percent indicating they've never found an opening and subsequently been hired via Facebook.
Indeed, many professionals seem to use Facebook "primarily as a social network rather than a professional network," says Angie Salmon, senior vice president at Leawood, Kan.-headquartered CBIZ Human Capital Services. "So, most recruiters who are seeking experienced talent will not start with Facebook as a source, unless the search is specific to marketing, social media or technology, [for example].
"Often, companies are not necessarily looking for 'job seekers' when conducting a senior-level search, and instead are seeking passive candidates," says Salmon. "Many individuals who are not seeking a new position will complete their professional LinkedIn profile, but this is less typical on Facebook."
LinkedIn seems to remain the most popular social media site for recruiters as well, according to the Jobvite poll, which found 94 percent of recruiters citing LinkedIn as their go-to social network for finding talent.
Still, while LinkedIn may remain the preferred network for the vast majority of hiring professionals, experts say Facebook may offer those same recruiters an effective way to build the corporate brand and familiarize would-be job candidates with the organization.
For example, the Link Humans poll finds nearly 80 percent of job seekers saying Facebook has served as a valuable source of company information.
"The key for recruiters thinking about how to best use Facebook is tied to the size of its massive user population," says Winter. "Facebook now boasts 1.3 billion users, compared to only 277 million users on LinkedIn. While most people tend to use Facebook for personal [purposes] ... the social-media site can still provide recruiters with an excellent source of candidates through two avenues."
First, she says, "there are several applications [such as Shoutlet and Oneall] that gather LinkedIn-like profile data from Facebook in an automated fashion, so that recruiters can tap into those 1.3 billion users. This can be a very valuable tool, given that many of the most qualified candidates are not actively searching for a job."
As such, Facebook's "other great value" to hiring professionals is in "leveraging that same large network to enable the employee-referral process," says Winter. "Most data indicates that employee referrals are still the best source of qualified candidates. It is very common for people to stay in touch with their friends and acquaintances that could be potential referrals on Facebook."
"I don't think that Facebook should be ruled out as a recruitment tool," adds Salmon. "It is incredibly important for an organization to build an employment brand, provide company information and even share openings on Facebook."
While companies can spread the word about the organization and specific openings through the Facebook community, "utilizing Facebook as a recruitment tool for passive, more senior candidates is still likely several years away," she says.
Someday soon, however, "those who have grown up utilizing Facebook as a connection tool will be holding senior-level positions, and they may not be as shy about mixing their personal and professional lives."
For that matter, many job seekers are already using social media to research your organization, says Kim Shanahan, senior client partner and managing director of Los Angeles-based Korn Ferry's Human Resources Center of Expertise.
"Companies use social media to vet candidates, so it makes sense that candidates use social media to vet companies and their leaders. This includes [using] multiple social media outlets at once," she says.
"HR leaders need to assume their social media presence will impact the talent they are able to recruit. Therefore, employer branding and individual executive branding across the social media landscape is extremely important today."