It’s not just an escape from work anymore. In fact, it could lead to work: Facebook is entering the job market. Or the jobs listing market, to be more specific.
On Wednesday, the world’s largest social network (1.01 billion users and counting) launched a new Web application — the “Social Jobs App,” a way for users to search for over 1.7 million jobs originally posted on other websites including Monster.com and US.jobs, but without leaving Facebook to do so.
“The new SJP app is a central location where recruiters can share open positions with the Facebook community sorted by industry, location and skills,” read a Facebook press release.
Indeed, the app allows users to narrow and filter their job search by keywords, preset occupation categories and subcategories, and location.
The app is actually the first tangible product from a new Facebook private-public partnership that was conceived last year: The Social Jobs Partnership (SJP), first created in October 2011, involves Facebook, the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), DirectEmployers Association, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), with a goal to “pursue a number of initiatives designed to more effectively leverage the utility of social networks in the job market.”
Aside from the app, the SJP also says it will conduct “in-depth” research on how Facebook users are taking to the website to find work, create and disseminate educational materials on how businesses and job seekers can best maximize their potential on social media, and create other “viral” ways to share jobs through Facebook “at no charge.”
Facebook also released some statistics on Wednesday in an effort to bolster its image as a serious recruitment tool, quoting the findings of a June 2012 survey of the hiring practices of 530 businesses carried out by The National Association of Colleges and Employers, a survey commissioned by Facebook.
As Facebook was careful to point out, the NACE survey found that just about half of employers (Facebook rounds up to 50 percent, the survey was 49.6 percent) “use Facebook in their hiring processes.” Further, the NACE survey discovered that 88 percent (Facebook rounds up to 90 percent in its post) of those surveyed said that their costs of print advertising for the purposes of recruitment was down due to their use of Facebook.
However, the same NACE survey found that of those surveyed, 38.6 percent thought that Facebook’s role as a recruiting tool would stay the same over the next three years, while another 17.5 percent thought it would become less important. In contrast, 43.9 precent, a minority, said they thought Facebook would become more important to the recruitment process over the next three years.
An earlier NACE survey from 2011 found that when it comes to job seekers in college, only a fourth of those with Facebook were using the website as a job searching tool. That survey also found that Twitter and LinkedIn were more preferred job searching tools (70 with either account percent reported using them for their job hunts).
The surveys, even the job app itself also call into question the practice of employers scanning prospective hires’ Facebook pages and using those to decide their fitness for a job. As the 2011 NACE survey noted:
Furthermore, although the majority of seniors remain unhappy at the prospect of employers viewing their profiles as part of the candidate assessment process, there has been movement toward acceptance. Approximately 34 percent of the current class thinks employers should view student profiles as part of the process, up from 29.4 percent in 2010 and 26.7 percent in 2009.
Following a rash of reports in early 2012 that employers weren’t just viewing publicly available Facebook profiles of employees or prospective hires, but actually asking job-seekers to turn over their Facebook passwords to recruiters so they could snoop on a user’s account, or have users log-in and go through their own accounts while a supervisor looked on, a number of states passed legislation to outlaw the practices and Facebook itself threatened what sounded like legal action.
Still, Facebook’s move on Wednesday to enter the job listings market — armed with some of the bigger names in the space, namely Monster — was interpreted by many as a clear shot across the bow of LinkedIn, the career-focused social network, which has also been rapidly expanding its own features lately in an effort to become the one stop-shop for employers and employees to connect.