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How to Source Candidates on Facebook

Sourcing featured

LinkedIn might be the first port of call for recruiters, but if you're struggling to fill a role it's worth trying to source candidates on Facebook.

Recruiters might feel more at home on LinkedIn, but it could be the opposite for socially aware job-seekers. 76% of social job seekers found their current position on Facebook!

Facebook Sourcing - Job Seeker Chart

Facebook profiles don't provide the same kind of online resume as LinkedIn profiles do, but it's much less crowded. Almost every recruiter relies heavily on LinkedIn - by trying Facebook you're guaranteed to uncover fresh candidates that no one else is talking to.

If we can overcome our fear that candidates will think it's creepy if we find and message them on Facebook, it can become a great resource for sourcing candidates.

Why source candidates on Facebook?

What if I could lead you to a secret sourcing grotto with more than 15 times as many monthly active users as LinkedIn - would you be interested?

Sourcing on Facebook - Facebook Users vs LinkedIn Users

* Figures from 2015

Now at 1.65 billion active users, Facebook is a social behemoth. It's stuffed full of candidates that fit your culture and roles, you just need to find them!

The answer? Facebook Graph Search.

It's not particularly well known, but Graph Search is the key for anyone who wants to source candidates on Facebook. You can unearth people who have specific professional experience or information listed in their profiles, or even find people who share content about topics that you're interested in.

How to source candidates on Facebook

Facebook is not the same as LinkedIn when it comes to recruiting. Finding and contacting candidates requires a different approach - for starters, Facebook is generally perceived as a 'private' social network so you need to be careful with the way you source.

So how do you run a successful search and source candidates on Facebook effectively?

i) Searching for candidates on Facebook

Sourcing on Facebook starts with finding the right candidate.

Facebook "search" is very powerful. You can use natural language queries (i.e. search in real sentences not Boolean) to narrow your hunt and find the right talent.

Here's an example of a search for female software engineers in New York from sourcing maestro Glen Cathey to illustrate this:

Facebook Graph Search Example

There are pretty much limitless possibilities with natural language search, so you can get creative in your hunt.

Here are a few other sample queries to get you started:

  • [Title] who live near [Location]
  • People who work at [Competitor] and like [Job function]
  • People who like [programming language] and live near [Location]
  • [Title] who live near [Location] and speak [Language]

When sourcing on Facebook, you're not just restricted to the office. Fire up the Facebook app on your phone to take your search mobile!

Another example from Glen Cathey below:

Mobile Facebook Sourcing

If your fingers are feeling tired you can even speak your search into the text field, (natural language search definitely has it's positives!)

Pro tip:

Everyone's Facebook Graph is different, so searching from a colleagues profile will yield different results. To take advantage of this, we recommend the occasional "sourcing party".

This is what we do at Beamery to make sure we're tapping into our entire company network when we're sourcing.

We sit down with a specific team that we're trying to hire for, (recently it's been our engineering team,) order a few pizzas on a Friday afternoon and comb through their network on Facebook and LinkedIn to see if there is anyone that they can refer.

This works well because people often can't think of friends or acquaintances that might be relevant until they're prompted.

ii) Reviewing Facebook profiles for recruitment

Reviewing candidates on Facebook is slightly different. Whereas LinkedIn is stuffed full of professional achievements and work experience, on Facebook you're more likely to find selfies and Instagram-style pictures of food!

That said, Facebook can be useful for gauging cultural fit. It's a good place to establish a candidate's interests, the causes they support and any major passions they might have.

Keep in mind that some people keep their Facebook profiles pretty private, (ironically to stop potential employers looking at them), so the amount of information that you find will vary.

To build a complete picture of a candidate and work out whether they're a good fit, you'll ultimately need to cross reference anything you find with LinkedIn and other social networks. Facebook can provide helpful insights but it's limited.

iii) Messaging candidates on Facebook

Should you contact candidates on Facebook or not? Is it creepy? Will you be perceived as a 'stalker'?

Well first off, sourcing is stalking, so there's not much you can do about that one! Second - before you even think about what to say in your message, you run into another stumbling block pretty quickly.

If you send a message to someone that you're not connected to, it will most likely end up in the dreaded 'other' folder.

This probably consigns it to being unread forever, most people don't even know that they have an 'other' folder and there are no notifications for these messages.

The way to avoid this fate is to pay $1 to ensure that your message is delivered to the candidate's primary inbox. The recipient will be notified that you've paid to get into their inbox, but at least they'll see it!


Pro tip: What should you say?

Let's say that you get over your doubts about messaging candidates on Facebook, what next? Well you have two main options when it comes to the content of your message:

1. Business as usual

You can ignore the fact that your sourcing on Facebook and send candidates the exact same content that you'd use in an InMail or email. (It goes without saying that your message should be personalised and relevant).

The advantage? There is significantly less recruiter noise than on LinkedIn so your message will spark curiosity and stand out. Also, just because we view Facebook as a more private social network doesn't mean that candidates won't be receptive to a targeted job proposition.

2. The confession

Shannon Pritchett advises that you use your first message to come clean and confess that Facebook isn’t the most appropriate platform for a professional, work-related conversation, admit to stalking them on LinkedIn and suggest carrying the conversation on via email.

This level of honesty will give you a great chance of earning a candidate’s trust and is a great move for building a good relationship here.

Here's an example of what could work well if you choose the confession tactic:

Facebook sourcing template


Play your cards right and sourcing candidates on Facebook can be a great tactic to find quality candidates and build your pipeline.

Make sure you remember that it's not LinkedIn, there are different rules and tactics that work well and you should find success.