boy standing and juggling with social media iconsSeventy-two billion dollars: that’s what corporations spend to find, hire and manage talent, according to a May Forbes article—and the worldwide number is likely three times bigger.  That’s a lot of money. And there’s literally tens of thousands of job boards, ATSs, CRMs and RPOs out there that are clamoring for a piece of the pie.

LinkedIn has quickly risen as a major player. LinkedIn reported 2nd quarter earnings of $205.1 million in recruitment revenues, up 59 percent from the same time period a year ago, quickly blowing past the other publicly traded stalwarts like Monster ($200.1M), CareerBuilder ($173.0M), and Dice ($52.0M). With features like LinkedIn Recruiter, Job Postings, Employer Branding, and Talent Pipeline offerings, their revenues have grown rapidly. A recent Bullhorn user survey of over 160,000 users indicated that 97 percent use LinkedIn.  Facebook?  Just 22 percent.

Shot across the Bow

But, the game is far from over. Facebook is quietly continuing to blur the lines between personal and professional. And now, with the ability for Facebook users to add professional skills to the “Work and Experience” portion of their profiles, Facebook has inched just a little bit further into LinkedIn territory.

The change is so simple you could miss it:  a new skills box in the “Work and Experience” section.  When a user adds a skill to his or her Facebook profile, it automatically searches for similar skills and allows the user to choose from a list; it then displays the people you know who also share the same skill or talent. Why should recruiters care? Well, for starters, it feeds Facebook graph search, giving employers more skills to search. Second, it creates more targeted advertising opportunities for sponsored feed, display and direct message targeting.

Time to Wake Up

A message for those naysayers who believe that social and professional will never collide on Facebook:  keep your head in the sand. In the not-so-distant future, we’ll look at Facebook as more than just a platform for interacting with our friends and family; we’ll be interacting with potential employers too. With 1.1 billion members worldwide, Facebook is a recruiter goldmine.  And we’re not just talking professionals. All socio-economic classes use Facebook, making its talent pool substantially more diverse than LinkedIn. But, as employers wade into the murky waters of recruiting on Facebook, they’ll need to be thoughtful, as most Facebook users are still uncomfortable when business intrudes on private.

With this newest feature, Facebook has tipped their hand as a clear indication of “game on” for using Facebook to find talent. It started with the no-so-well received Facebook Social Jobs Partnership. It continued with the launch of Facebook Graph Search; recruiters can now perform sophisticated social searches for the first time in the history of mankind (“friends of friends who are java developers and work in Philadelphia at Comcast and like sushi”). Then, continued enhancements to the “Work & Experience” section to make it more “resume-like” and featuring where you work on your profile. And now this.

What About the Rest of Us?

For us players in the online recruiting and sourcing marketplace, what does all this mean? It means that it’s time to innovate. The job boards, career sites, and sourcing tools out there need to think outside the box. Clearly define our value proposition in the marketplace. Create an amazing and different user experience. Devise new, unique, and exciting initiatives to serve our constituency and add value in ways that the big players aren’t. I work for Beyond.com, and our Career Portfolio and Work with Friends app, as well as our heavy investment in mobile, are some of things we’re doing to try and carve out our niche. Our industry is evolving, and the companies that survive will be the ones that continue to evolve their model to provide unique value to job seekers and employers.

Conclusion

Let’s face it: Facebook is VERY good at monetizing its’ product—you. Facebook already knows so much about you and now, with the continued enhancements to the “Work and Experience” section of your Facebook profile, you can be sure it’s aiming to take a big chunk out of that $72B+ recruiting spend.  And it’ll be happy to run over LinkedIn (and anyone else) on its way to the top.

Power your recruiting success.
Tap into Recruiter.com, the largest network of recruiters.

in Recruiting with Facebook]