Facebook Graph Search Is Awesome, But It Cuts Both Ways

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Jun 21, 2013

Facebook Graph Search is awesome. If you don’t yet have it, it’s a very powerful tool that gives you access to the billion plus profiles on Facebook through title, company, location, age, sex, likes, and many more criteria. For sourcers, the ability to find people who fall outside of LinkedIn/Google Plus mega sites is an exciting new pool of talent.

Don’t believe me? Do a google search for CNC Machinists who live in Connecticut on LinkedIn. I get 804 results, which can include duplicates and false positives. Then do the same for Facebook. I count 1821 profiles. Anyone work in manufacturing?

As we get used to using Graph Search, we’ll have to remember two things. One, it’s not a comprehensive search, anymore than Boolean searches of the LinkedIn database. There are people who don’t enter their information, or hide it, or just fall through digital cracks because of our sourcing blind spots. We are still dependent on what the public enters into their social profile. Let’s not get complacent and assume everyone is on Facebook. The second concern doesn’t affect sourcers who build lists, but it certainly impacts the recruiting process as a whole.

Most candidates don’t want you near their Facebook profile. Anyone who looks at the Profile Also Viewed By section of LinkedIn can tell what people are looking at. Click the profile of a pretty blonde, and you’ll get 10 more from the LinkedIn algorithm. Now imagine that alongside the photo section of Facebook and you’ll quickly get a sense of why candidates might be creeped out about employers looking through their personal profiles. Did you know that you can search by political persuasion? Sort your friends by whether they liked Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. Do you think candidates want to turn their Facebook profiles into public billboards of their political beliefs, right next to bikini summers and pictures of the car they drive?

So yes, Facebook Recruiting is going to be different, as we adjust to NSA level snooping into our personal lives in the job search. Don’t tell me that this has been going on for a long time. Our executives don’t fully understand the level of detail we can find about candidates, mostly because those skilled at digging information are disciplined enough not to scare the public. But what happens when every junior recruiter or Boomer manager discovers they have unprecedented access to candidate social profiles? I’ve heard horror stories of managers printing out page seven Google Image results. I shudder to think what happens when they start accessing Facebook through Graph Search.

We’re going to have to learn how to address people on Facebook. We’re going to have to learn how to reach out to them in a way that doesn’t get our profiles banned and our companies blacklisted (just wait until you get a few complaints). And we’ll have to remember that anything your dumbest hiring manager can do, a candidate can do. Are you building a large network of Facebook friends? Do you have a public profile so people can find you? What happens when the public begins targeting recruiters? What happens when candidates dislike your pictures? Or your “likes.” Or your check-ins? What happens when you change your profile picture to support a political cause? Or like a saucy Facebook page for a funny post, not recognizing that the rest of the posts are NSFW?

Yes, Facebook Graph Search is awesome, but there are significant roadblocks in our path. Are you preparing to both get maximum use from the platform, while protecting yourself and your client in the process?

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