In my career I’ve had the opportunity to hire quite a few great people, and the one thing that I can say for certain about the hiring process is that it takes a lot of time. Any kind of filter be it background checks, personality tests or interview gauntlets are a drain on resources. So when it was reported this weekend that Facebook is going to develop a job board to compete with LinkedIn my immediate reaction was, “wow, THAT could be a disaster.”
Facebook could be entering the job search business for two reasons: #1 to drive traffic to the site (which is pretty unlikely given that they are well-off in this area) or #2 to sell employers access to some cohort of the prospect’s personal information. Given all of Facebook’s
desperate post-IPO recent monetization efforts this seems most likely. There’s no benefit to a recruiter to post a job on Facebook if there isn’t an organic vetting mechanism, and Facebook has shown increasing willingness to leverage data for dollars.
Here’s the problem: Facebook has more personal information about people than any data repository in the world save Google. Where LinkedIn presents a very polished, professional view (most of the time) of any candidate, Facebook houses a raw, unrefined snapshot. Conventional wisdom is that a person who posts or says disparaging things about their job could become likewise negative about a new job. Facebook is where is that discontent is most likely to be articulated online. Nevermind the fact that quite a few businesses treat their employees shabbily – if you’ve ever said anything negative you could be a non-viable candidate for a job. Photos, posts from friends, post timestamps within in the work day – the list of “legitimate” discriminators is vast.
And what about illegal discriminators? Ask about religion, age, marital status, children, politics, et cetera in a job interview and a business could face potential lawsuits – but Facebook has all of that and more. And they could conceivably have your purchase history from Amazon (and bevy of other online retailers) and your search history if you connect your social profile to Bing.
Of course Facebook won’t give employers access to all of the information that they have, but in all likelihood they’ll make employers privy to some of that data. The question in human resources will be how do you sort through that personal information and will traditional discriminators still apply when there is a confluence of subjective data to scrutinize? And will there be legal issues for employers that use Facebook to vet candidates?
With one company, I spent five months hiring for an open position. In that time, I found a litany of qualified people that I really would have enjoyed working with (including a PhD candidate). The reason I couldn’t hire any of them was that they had to fit a personality profile in order for me to extend an offer. I ended up hiring a young woman with a opiate addiction who lied about her physical capability to do the job. But she had a great personality (test).
I suspect job boards and candidate vetting will continue to be the bread and butter of LinkedIn, but there is probably a cohort of companies that will leverage Facebook’s database to vet candidates for open positions. The one common denominator for those companies will probably be that you wouldn’t want to work for them.