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Facebook is often dismissed as a social network that has little to no value to recruiters. But the fact is, with more than a billion users, Facebook has the largest database of candidates available.  I don’t need to tell you how valuable a large recruiting database is in our industry. And while Facebook is still far from being the perfect sourcing tool, it is increasingly becoming a good arrow to have in your recruiting quiver.

Sourcing candidates on Facebook for your contract assignment

This is particularly true with the network’s Graph Search function that was launched in early 2013.  The search is limited, because you can only find information that is shared publicly or by friends. But that’s not all bad because it tends to produce more relevant results. Moreover, Facebook is unique because the search engine is built around natural language rather than keywords.  Here are some common searches recruiters might run:

  • Job title + location. Example: Developers who live in Seattle
  • Job title + employer. Example: Developers who work at Facebook
  • By education: Example: People who graduate from Yale in 2014

This allows you to find candidates with very specific criteria, which can be useful when you want to find someone for a certain position who also works on contract. Here are some examples of searches you can run to find contract candidates:

  • Engineers who work in contracting in California
  • Programmers who are contractors
  • Contractors who are nurses

Then there are hashtags.  Hashtags are created by adding # to a keyword phrase. They are added to posts on social networks, particularly Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, to make those phrases searchable.  When recruiting on Facebook, you may want to try searching on hashtags you think your ideal candidates may be using.  Some candidates make it easy, using #hireme or #needajob or even #resume hashtags. Also, think about what phrases are popular in the industry for which you are recruiting.

How do recruiters find candidates, and get them to respond? Contacting the people you find can be a tricky because they are often more reluctant to connect with strangers on Facebook. You could send them a message, but if you are not Friends with them, the message will hit their semi-hidden “Other” box.  One way to get around this is to send a paid message.  For around $1, you can send a message to someone you are not connected to, and it will go into their main inbox and likely pop up on their smartphone screen.  If they are a friend of a friend, you may be able to get an introduction.  Once you have their name, you could also try finding them in another network, such as LinkedIn®, where they may be more receptive to making profession connections with people they do not know.

You can also use Facebook help candidates find you.  First, make sure your firm’s business profile is highly searchable. Just as you are using Facebook to search for candidates, they could turn to Facebook to find a recruiter.  Your profile should contain the keywords they are most likely to search for, including the types of positions you place.  And be sure to mention that you place contractors because more and more, workers are choosing contract staffing as a lifestyle and need recruiters who can place them in contract positions.

Don’t forget that you can use hashtags, too.  Tag your job posting with #jobs or #jobposting or with phrases relevant to the industry you are targeting. But you will want to post more than just jobs.  Post relevant articles that people will want to share. Images really standout in the Facebook news stream, so be sure to include eye-catching photos in your posts as well.

Will Facebook replace LinkedIn as a candidate source? Probably not. But you may want to give Facebook a second look as it could become a valuable additional sourcing tool.

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