“Huh?” I thought as I read the headline. What do you mean Facebook wants to be the blue-collar LinkedIn? Bad idea.
But there’s so much more to this story than my instant reaction and thanks to a few friends on Twitter, I’ve taken the time to actually sit down to write about it. About why Facebook’s brand is a roadblock for this journey. About why digital attempts for contacting blue collar workers have failed to date. About the flaw I see in this plan. And so much more.
So the premise here is simply, “because Facebook has built the Jobs platform and has millions of users, they will come.” LinkedIn just isn’t built to handle “these jobs.” What that really means is that LinkedIn has an attraction issue with different generational and economic segments – a concept so many recruiters simply ignore as they still post manufacturing and customer service jobs. That’s a fundamental problem with most recruitment marketing (but not the point of this post, so I digress).
The confidence in this move was confirmed via data point by Alex Himel, VP of Local at Facebook. He said, “One in four people in the US have searched for or found a job using Facebook (source).” I have some obvious questions like…
- How do you define “finding a job” – awareness or network? I.e. did they see a job on Facebook and that counts as “finding a job” or did they connect with someone who networked to make a connection?
- What’s the time period on this data?
- How many people did you survey? Were they on Facebook’s campus?
- How does that break out geographically?
- How does that break out in demographics?
The list goes on. It’s just hard to fathom that this many people have searched for a job on a site that didn’t even have formal job entries until last year. Especially considering the failure rate to date. My friend and journalist Michelle Rafter said it best: “Remember BeKnown? BranchOut? Nobody else does either.”
In fact, quite a few people on Twitter brought up the fail rate on this exact mission to date. A quick search shows multiple articles about “X wants to be the LinkedIn of blue collar jobs” since 2013, including 1 in FastCompany. The track record for work-centric apps on or for Facebook has been dismal to date.
Analyst Sarah Brennan reminded me that this has been done before. Facebook kind of tried this a few years ago via some well funded plug-ins. It failed and was a high visibility public loss for Monster. Surprisingly for me, especially based on that track record, was that about a half dozen companies are trying this right now, according to the go-to job board expert, Jeff Dickey-Chasins.
Going back to my recruitment marketing background, I also wanted to look into the marketing data around Facebook’s growth. There’s a question of if Facebook is growing enough in these demographics to make it possible. In fact, the story today is that Facebook’s usage has dropped about 5% in total amount of time users spend on the social network for the first time earlier this year (thanks for bringing that up Michelle Manafy).
The Need: Does The World Even Need A Blue-Collar LinkedIn?
These failures and declines lead me to one big question: Does the world even need a LinkedIn for blue collar jobs? Maybe not. I asked hiring leaders who are out filling these exact types of roles today to ask if they would consider using Facebook. While I promised to keep their feedback anonymous, they brought up some interesting points. The first of which was that Facebook has a reputation for ruining careers. “Blue-collar” people don’t trust that their privacy settings are stringent enough. The second, that Facebook doesn’t have the trust of people in general thanks to their recent bad press. The political headlines are a road block for trust.
The bottom line – they’re giving it a chance, but they have valid fears about if it will even work. So do I. Most specifically, I wonder how Facebook can transform their brand to build the trust required for someone to put a career in their hands rather than restricting is as a place for liking cat gifs and interacting with old fraternity friends.
I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next, that’s for sure.