Economy

How spending the day on Facebook can help you land your next job

Facebook's new features connect businesses with jobseekers, simplifying a tedious process and possibly changing the way people think about the job search.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., in March 2013. As part of its ongoing mission to connect the world, Facebook, which had 1.23 billion daily active users in December, added new job search features on Wednesday.
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There’s no denying it – finding a new job can be slow, tedious, and downright frustrating. But as Facebook turns its attention to forging connections between individuals and businesses, can it change the way people think about the job search?

On Wednesday, the social media giant announced new features that will integrate the job search into the existing Facebook platform. US and Canadian businesses will be able to post jobs, which will show up in users’ News Feeds. Users will then be able to apply instantly, adding a personal comment about their qualifications for the job to a form already populated with information from their profile, like an email address or phone number. (Companies do not have access to anything else on a user’s Facebook page that is not publicly available.) The whole process could take as little as five minutes.

For Facebook, which has built its reputation on connecting people, the new feature is a way to leverage their existing expertise and add value to the platform. If it’s easy to use, observers say, it could be the solution weary jobseekers have been looking for.

“People don’t like it if there are a million things they have to fill out,” explains Miriam Salpeter, owner of Keppie Careers and a social media strategist, to The Christian Science Monitor. “A quick and easy interface has a lot of potential.”

Using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn can help jobseekers demonstrate experience, expand their network, and draw people to them who might have leads on possible jobs, says Ms. Salpeter, the author of "Social Networking for Career Success." Businesses also post job openings on their social media pages.

Facebook’s new approach is a response to that trend, and goes one step further, seamlessly linking businesses with jobs to offer and the people who could be interested in applying. It's designed to improve the user experience, explains Emilie Fetterley, a Facebook spokesperson. 

"Last October, we set out to answer, 'How can we make Facebook more useful in your everyday life?' " she writes in an email to the Monitor. "Job posting and application is one of the ways we’re doing it."

The focus, Ms. Fetterley adds, is on helping small businesses fill low- and middle-income roles.

Unlike more traditional approaches, there's no job hunt – the jobs are on users’ News Feeds whenever they log on to Facebook.  And users can apply on Facebook itself, which is quicker and easier than linking to an external job site or company website.

“This new experience will help businesses find qualified people where they’re already spending their time – on Facebook and on mobile,” the company said in a news release. The average user spends 50 minutes on the platform daily, The New York Times reported in May.

Social media giants are constantly looking for new ways to keep more users on their sites for longer – and the expansion may help Facebook achieve it. Other recent efforts have included LinkedIn selling educational online courses, Twitter offering live video, and Snapchat exploring ways to share original, short-form video programming. 

Having the jobs show up in users' News Feeds gives Facebook a couple of advantages compared to other job sites. Businesses can reach people who aren't specifically looking for jobs, giving them a broader applicant base and presumably improving the overall quality of those applicants. And it helps people who don't feel they have time to engage in a more targeted job search find new opportunities.

“Two-thirds of job seekers are already employed,” Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s vice president of ads and business platform, told TechCrunch. “They’re not spending their days and nights out there canvassing for jobs. They’re open to a job if a job comes.”

This approach allows Facebook to leverage its existing expertise and massive user base while making users’ lives easier. It may also turn out to be lucrative: If businesses like what they’re seeing, they may take out paid ads in order to reach more people.

In the future, Facebook may expand its jobs features to direct businesses to people who might be a good fit, or allow applicants to upload additional media, like a video or resume, in support of their application.

Some observers have raised concerns about privacy, pointing out that many jobseekers are already concerned about would-be employers scrutinizing their online presence. Nevertheless, there was “overwhelming enthusiasm” for the project during the development phase, Mr. Bosworth told TechCrunch.

And if the company can bring its signature straightforward approach to job applications, eventually sharing it with Facebook’s 1.23 billion daily active users, Facebook could become a job-search staple.

Whether Facebook’s jobs features are a complete answer to the perennial challenge of matching jobs with workers, or just another piece of the puzzle, it reinforces social media’s role in the job hunt. And even people who don’t plan to take advantage of the new features should consider leveraging their Facebook profile to their advantage, says Salpeter.

“Use Facebook to illustrate your positive characteristics,” she advises jobseekers, saying they can help would-be employers get the best impression by setting posts that might make them a more attractive applicant to “public.”