What is Facebook doing? And why?

The past 12 months have been busy for those at Facebook who are working on their hiring offerings. The company is huge, of course, and I don’t have a clear sense of how many staff are attached to the hiring services initiative – but given the rate of announcements that have appeared during the past year, there must be a reasonable number. So what is Facebook doing in the jobs space? Let’s take a look at some of the developments:

  • Facebook Community Boost: About a year ago, Facebook began a ‘tour’ of cities ranging from Indianapolis, IN, to New Orleans, LA; in fact, the tour is still going on. The focus of the tour is two-fold: to get businesses to use Facebook for hiring and creating business, and to get job seekers to use Facebook for finding work. There has been an explicit focus on small businesses – which makes sense, given that many of them use Facebook as their primary online ‘retail face’. The tour will eventually reach 30 cities – which is pretty good reach for an offline event.
  • Job postingsIf you’re going to play in the hiring world, you need job posts – and in February 2018, after having already done so in the U.S. and Canada over a year earlier, Facebook formally rolled out job postings to 40 nations worldwide. The focus was – once again – on small businesses and the people who might work for them. The process of both posting a job and applying for one was purposely kept extremely simple.
  • Poaching talent: Facebook also kept grabbing talented people to fill out its hiring services team, including folks from Redfash (an coding interview practice startup) and eHarmony (which had launched and later sold the job matching site Elevated Careers). Expanding their team makes it seem like Facebook is in the recruiting biz for the long haul, doesn’t it?
  • Adding more featuresA few weeks ago, Facebook launched a new education portal, Learn with Facebook. It also expanded features for two services it had already launched that are adjacent to that, Mentorships and Jobs; mentorships will now be opened for users to make their own matches, and those posting Jobs will now be able to post them in Groups where they are members. These features mimic those found on LinkedIn, but differ significantly in scale and focus.

So a bunch of random announcements, strung out over the course of a year, start to look like a real strategy – at least to me. Facebook is targeting an audience that LinkedIn doesn’t: small and medium sized businesses, and those who would work for them. It’s courting them aggressively, both on- and off-line. And it’s gradually adding specific features that cater to these users. It’s an understatement to say that Facebook has been successful thus far – in fact, they’ve done well enough that they’ve drawn attention for allowing gender-based discriminatory ads. Ask Glassdoor – these suits are sometime the price of success.

Will ZipRecruiter – who is tackling the same audience – fend them off? Will Facebook stumble – again? Or will Google make Facebook’s efforts irrelevant? I have no idea. Guess we’d better stay tuned!

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