Facebook announced its long-awaited job board this week, ushering in a new era of online recruiting and, eventually, what’s likely to be an important new source of revenue for the company. After a yearlong “Social Jobs Partnership” with the U.S. Department of Labor and other government agencies, the company released the Social Jobs Partnership application today, an interactive job board that aggregates 1.7 million openings from recruiting companies already working on the platform, including Work4 Labs, BranchOut, Jobvite, DirectEmployers and Monster.com.
Though a spokesperson for the company insists the announcement does not mean Facebook is entering the recruiting industry, that statement appears far-fetched given the capability of the application. The page allows users to search for jobs by location, industry and skill, apply to them directly through Facebook, and then share the jobs to their social network. Its developer partners also believe Facebook is making a clear statement of its intentions. “Facebook is launching a jobs page within Facebook,” notes Stephane Le Viet, founder and CEO of Work4 Labs. “This is a very big disruption in a very large space.”
The company’s own blog post reveals some telling statistics about the potential for recruiting over the platform. According to Facebook, half of employers in the U.S. use the social network during their hiring process. Of those companies already using Facebook to engage with customers, 54 percent anticipate using it more heavily in their recruitment efforts in the future. Given those numbers, the lucrative nature of the recruitment industry and the success of companies like Work4 Labs—not to mention increasing pressure from battered shareholders—it appears likely that Facebook will seek monetize recruitment efforts at some point soon.
Le Viet surmises that the current application is just an early, lightweight version intended to test recruiting on the platform. It also serves to trigger a PR push letting the general public know that the social network is now a place to find jobs. A more robust version may eventually mean users will see more recruitment-related activity on their newsfeeds.
The Social Jobs Partnership was meant to serve as a consortium to guide the company’s recruitment offering.
Given the announcement, does November 14, 2012 mark the beginning of the end for LinkedIn? The varied demographics of Facebook certainly differ from LinkedIn’s 175 million older, university-educated users. Le Viet’s Work4 Labs acknowledges this reality, focusing on entry-level and hourly positions rather than the salaried openings for which LinkedIn provides candidates. And as Forbes contributor George Anders noted in a July cover story, LinkedIn Recruiter, the company’s enterprise recruitment tool, is the company’s core business. They have a three-year head start and a product with cachet among recruiters said to rival the Bloomberg terminal for traders. LinkedIn is also a trusted, professional brand created for the explicit purpose of business networking. Older employees may not feel comfortable mixing work with a social platform better known for party photos.
The sheer size of Facebook’s user base however, means that the company can slice the population a number of different ways. Though only 22 percent of users are above the age of 45, that’s still 220 million people–more than LinkedIn’s entire platform. And Facebook has already been shown to be highly effective in recruiting lower-skilled workers. A foothold in the lower end of the market could serve as a nice starting point for moving upstream and eating LinkedIn’s business. The twenty-somethings who tend profiles on both LinkedIn and Facebook may not care where their next job comes from.
It is certain that traditional online job boards like Monster.com are on the way out. While Monster has seen its market share and stock price plummet in recent years, LinkedIn has soared and Facebook’s developer partners–Work4 Labs, BranchOut and Jobvite–have raised tens of millions of dollars to pursue social graph-based recruiting models. The future of recruiting is decidedly social.
Though Forbes staffer Eric Savitz noted that the lockup agreement covering 777 million Facebook shares ended this week, the company’s stock is up nearly 8%.