Facebook and Google Invest More Deeply in Job Search

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer December 13, 2016
Facebook and Google Invest More Deeply in Job Search

Recruiters will soon have new tools and technologies to help match candidates with open positions, based on recent announcements from tech giants Facebook and Google.

Both companies made it known in November that they are in the early stages of staking larger claims in the talent acquisition space and disrupting the status quo.

Facebook is blurring the once-indelible line between personal and professional networking by adding a job-posting and application-collecting functionality to Facebook Pages.

Talent acquisition professionals already use the ubiquitous social media site for sourcing, branding and posting paid ads.

[SHRM members-only how-to guide: How to Use Social Media for Applicant Screening]

Facebook is testing a new option that allows employers to share specially formatted job openings in the company's status update box as well as in a separate, dedicated jobs tab on the company page. Ads can also be promoted to target specific users by education, geography or other criteria allowable by Facebook's advertising settings. An interested job seeker can click on an "Apply now" button to launch an application form prepopulated with information from the user's public profile. The form is then delivered to the page administrator as a Facebook message. This is just one of a number of recruiting features Facebook is experimenting with, the company said.

"It was inevitable, as Facebook attempts to get more into people's lives," said Martin Burns, a strategic consulting leader with Boston-based HireClix, a digital recruitment advertising agency.

Other vendors offer services to build jobs pages on Facebook, but this announcement formalizes postings for employers directly through the site.

"Past attempts to plug in mini careers sites onto Facebook pages haven't worked very well in terms of traffic and conversions," Burns said. "I wonder if that was because they were third-party apps or [because] people don't want to look for jobs while they are on Facebook. The idea sounds good in theory, but it hasn't really worked."

Manually posting jobs and dealing with applications sent as Facebook messages will be challenges for large employers that rely on automated job postings and delivery of applications into their applicant tracking systems.

"Whether or not Facebook users can upload a resume or use their LinkedIn profile is unknown, but this might be the hard part for many employers to swallow," said Joel Cheesman, a recruiting technology industry veteran and the founder of Ratedly, which monitors anonymous employee complaint websites.

"If you're the Facebook admin for a Fortune 500 company, good luck," Burns said. "They will get slaughtered. They will have to watch that channel carefully and filter it and make sure only the right folks see the ads."

Both Burns and Cheesman said that the tool may be most appealing to small and local businesses and companies that have hard-to-fill positions.

"This could be a market for companies who need a version of a LinkedIn corporate page but lack the budget to pay for it and don't want the restrictions that come with it," Burns said. "It may work for a facility in eastern Kentucky or northern Minnesota, where an Indeed posting doesn't really convert folks for jobs in call centers or as forklift drivers."

But the experts agreed that Facebook has the potential to improve engagement with the much-sought-after passive job seeker. Facebook offers demand generation potential, organically reaching people going about their daily life. "Facebook's professional-oriented groups are getting better engagement than LinkedIn, and if employers were able to start running job ads targeting groups, that could really hurt LinkedIn's model," Burns said.

"If at some point Facebook users are able to add a professional profile that complements their already-available personal pages—which, let's be real, is eventually going to happen—and attach that profile to a job opening, and companies can manage and search those profiles, then I think they're really onto something," Cheesman said.

Google's New Jobs API Aims to Make Hiring Smarter

The world's most popular search engine has developed a new tool with the potential to greatly improve hiring. The Google Cloud Jobs API (application programming interface) uses machine learning to understand how job titles and skills relate to one another and which job description, location and seniority level are the closest match to a job seeker's preferences.

The goal of the API is to address the disparity among job titles, job descriptions and the skills needed that "comes from a lack of industry standards to define and describe occupations and how they align to specific skills," according to Google.

The company compared the new tool—currently available in alpha testing—to Google's translation API, which translates text into many different languages. "Cloud Jobs API understands the nuances of job titles, descriptions, skills and preferences, and matches job-seeker preferences with relevant job listings based on sophisticated classifications and relational models," wrote Christian Posse, group data scientist with Google Cloud in this blog post.

At the core of the tool lies two proprietary galaxies of 250,000 specific occupations and 50,000 hard and soft skills, as well as relational models between them that encode the popularity and specificity of each skill for any occupation. For example, the relational models that encode JavaScript, HTML and CSS are skills related to the occupation of user interface engineer.

Posse explained that before the tool spits out a match, job posting titles are standardized and "cleaned" of any language not directly related to the occupation definition, including location, employment type, salary information, company name, marketing lingo and administrative jargon.

The tool is intended for job boards, careers sites and applicant tracking systems, where it will sit in the cloud, allowing partners to call on Google's algorithms only when needed. Early adopters include job boards Dice and CareerBuilder and Jibe, which develops careers sites for clients.

The eventual outcome of this tool, powered by Google's data, is that the jobs will find the people, Burns said. "That's the way it should be. It's the idea that you can visit a job board or careers site and be automatically served up appropriate career options based on your online browsing activity, geography and job title. Employers wouldn't need a recruitment marketing platform that captures your data. That step would be eliminated."

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