Facebook Inc. is ready to friend more recruiters.
Linked-In Corp. has long been the more dominant professional-networking site, where recruiters can buy access to the professional résumés of 120 million professionals. Although Facebook itself hasn’t created its own system to allow recruiters to search for job candidates based on work history or education, independent developers have moved in to fill the void.
Attracted by Facebook’s 800 million users, these developers have started to create software for recruiters that makes it easy to find candidates on Facebook. And some resourceful recruiters are coming up with their own ways of exploring the potential gold mine of talent on the site.
Here are five tips to get the most out of recruiting on Facebook:
1. Use professional-networking apps built for Facebook.
A number of companies have been building Facebook apps that allow people to create professional résumés on the social network. Recruiters can then gain access to those résumés and search for job candidates based on the people’s entries about their work experience and education. Thanks to such applications, posting and perusing job openings is now an option for Facebook users, too.
BranchOut Inc., for example, is a start-up with a Facebook app that invites anyone to sign up for its professional-networking services. Users can give the BranchOut app permission to access their work and education histories and contact information, and those of their Facebook friends who choose to share such details on Facebook. All of their professional information is then displayed on pages separate from any personal material, so that recruiters won’t see items from a user’s profile page.
“The concern would be, ‘I don’t want a potential employer to be able to see my personal information. I don’t want to connect with a recruiter on Facebook because they’ll see a picture of me at party or with my children,’ ” says BranchOut Chief Executive Rick Marini.
This month BranchOut launched RecruiterConnect, a tool that lets recruiters pay for access to potential candidates’ work histories, education and recent professional activity. It also helps recruiters accurately match job candidates with available positions.
Caroline Betts, CEO of San Francisco-based Betts Recruiting LLC, says BranchOut lets her search for Facebook users based on where they work, years of experience, where they went to school and their job title—all details that previously weren’t searchable on Facebook.
“Efficiency is one of the most important things about recruiting,” Ms. Betts says. “How do you get the largest response from the quality people?”
Another software developer, Jobvite Inc., based in Burlingame, Calif., just launched a Facebook app that allows companies to post jobs and lets users discover and apply for those postings privately within Facebook. Jobvite uses its matching software technology to connect employers and job seekers through Facebook.
2. Ask employees to contact their Facebook friends who they think would be good candidates.
Recruiters say companies need to explicitly ask their employees to post job openings on Facebook or find friends who might be right for a position at the firm. Companies also should reward those who bring in new talent—not just with recognition and thanks, but with money.
Because you are asking people to tap into their own social networks, says Dan Finnigan, chief executive of Jobvite, “you’ve got to have a commitment that genuinely and authentically rewards people. Recruiters have got to tap into the employees’ authentic power and generate enthusiasm to participate.”
3. Don’t spam people.
Facebook users are very wary of spam. Recruiters run the risk of being blocked by users if they post every job opening so that it constantly shows up inside a user’s news feed.
“I don’t want to annoy my friends by every 30 seconds having a new update about every job because they will just block me in their Facebook feeds,” says Ms. Betts, who says she posts jobs a few times a week and tries to vary the content.
Holly Casey, a recruiter at Insight Recruiting, San Francisco, recommends avoiding posts that say simply that a job is available. Be creative. Entice friends to check out your postings by linking to interesting articles or quotes so that people aren’t just inundated with job descriptions. She also suggests limiting postings to just a few times a week.
“You want to be targeted,” she says. “You want what you’re doing to be noticed, and it’s got to be a little different.”
4. Follow the same rules of behavior on Facebook that you use offline.
Don’t ask someone to make an introduction for you on Facebook if you wouldn’t ask them to do it in person, recruiting experts say. Before you approach a potential candidate, or someone who is friends with a potential candidate, be sure that you are close enough to the intermediary to ask for the introduction. Don’t assume that Facebook behavior is different from regular social interactions, experts say.
Ask yourself, “Is this person somebody who I would pick up the phone and say, ‘Will you make the introduction?’ ” says Ms. Betts. She gets upset when people ask her to make an introduction or a recommendation when she has had minimal contact with the person.
5. Let your employees use Facebook at work.
Many companies maintain a Facebook fan page and want to recruit talent through the social network, but then ban the use of Facebook in the workplace. Recruiters say this is a no-no. Employees need to feel comfortable using Facebook as a professional tool where they can build professional connections.
Not allowing Facebook at the office “only makes you look stupid and out of touch,” says Mr. Finnigan, who notes that if employees can’t get Facebook on their work computers, they can usually access it on their smartphones anyway.
“You have to not only participate on it,” he adds, “but be comfortable that your employees are building connections.”
Ms. Raice is a staff reporter in The Wall Street Journal’s San Francisco bureau. She can be reached at email@example.com.