Yeah, so I was that wannabe geek watching 60 Minutes on the other Sunday, hoping to get an eyeful of the new Facebook profile pages. It was a flash, just a moment on the screen, but I got my sneak peek. (Editor’s note – If you didn’t watch the interview, go here. Interesting glimpse into the real Mark Zuckerberg.) About 18 hours later my profile converted and it was nearly at the same time that I read this:
“In other words, Facebook will at least allow you the option to use it more as an online resume. Funny that’s exactly how LinkedIn is used. If you can list your jobs, key projects and work connections on Facebook does that minimize the importance of LinkedIn? There’s no ready answer to that query, but you have to wonder.” –Larry Dignan, ZDNet, Between the Lines
For me there is. But it’s based on how I use LinkedIn as a recruiting professional, and how I’ve tried to perform the same magic on Facebook. No, right now, Facebook can’t minimize the importance of LinkedIn. Here’s why:
Facebook relies heavily on user generated content, just like LinkedIn, but the intent of the site has always been to be social. I’ve got some friends and neighbors on the site and for the most part, none of them have filled out their work information on Facebook, many have separate and more detailed professional profiles on LinkedIn. But they have always felt that Facebook was not a place to fall under a potential employers scrutiny, it was not their job hunting site. And who can blame ’em? If I think of how I meet people in a professional environment and how I meet people at a party in my neighborhood, I introduce myself in two completely different manners. In fact, until recently, no one in my neighborhood understood what I did until I hired one of them to be my assistant. I’ve led two lives for a long time.
This leads me to Facebook’s heavy duty privacy features, almost encouraging users to not make their profiles public… where as LinkedIn has allowed users to claim their online stake – to get their name, job title, and professional experience in search engine results. LinkedIn users are pretty darn findable. You can find Facebook users via search engines and it is an excellent back-up when I need a Plan C to reach a candidate. But I’m going to find them by searching Google for their name, not by inputting “java software architect”.
And let’s talk about search functionality. Actually on Facebook, it’s a lack of search functionality. The Facebook of three years ago made it possible to find people using the internal search feature. Now it’s just an exercise in frustration. Sure I can find a bunch of people who work at Booz Allen Hamilton here in D.C. but I have to click on every user and reveal their profile and maybe see what they do, or maybe not.
But could Facebook take on LinkedIn? Definitely. There are more than 500 million global profiles on the site, and what recruiter doesn’t want a piece of that? Think about what would happen if Facebook allowed you to make a professional profile public? Even if it were just the work and education information with your name and geographic location! And what if Facebook aggressively pushed your profile out into the search indexing stream? Made it possible for a potential employer to contact you because you’re interested in “Career Opportunities”? What if they just made it possible to search the site internally? Screw degrees of connections, give everybody an opportunity, not just those who recognize how to work a system. Or what if they created a job board section better than Marketplace and a regular tab accessible to jobseekers on the Facebook profile options? It could be game changing for the recruiting industry. And it would be amazing. Oh the possibilities…
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.