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6 Common Facebook Sourcing Mistakes You're Probably Making Right Now

facebook mistakes

Over 1.5 BILLION people regularly use Facebook. That’s 600 million more users than LinkedIn (LinkedIn currently have 400 million monthly active users) and 695 million more than Twitter (Twitter currently have 305 million monthly active users). But despite these sky high numbers (and the richness of data the site contains), relatively few recruiters are utilising Facebook in their recruiting efforts. Why so?

I believe it’s because it’s simply not obvious to recruiters how to source on Facebook. It’s not that a potential candidate pool of 1.5 billion people doesn’t look attractive to most recruiters, of course it does. It’s just that many recruiters seem to be phased by the roundabout, non-traditional way of sourcing on the site and are, therefore, put off using it and taking advantage of all it has to offer. It comes down to a simple lack of education. We all know how to use Facebook for personal use, but when it comes to sourcing many of us need a little bit of training.

This post will highlight common issues recruiters face when trying to source candidates on Facebook, what they get wrong and how you can avoid these pitfalls so that you can get the most out of Facebook for recruitment.

1. Wasting valuable sourcing time!

Let’s face it, Facebook is a time suck. You login in for a 5-minute scroll and the next thing you know you’ve spent an hour cyber stalking your best friend’s new boyfriend’s best friend! The same thing can happen when sourcing on Facebook.

It is way too easy to get distracted and spend half your time looking at other people’s photos. It starts with “Oh great, this person’s a mechanical engineer, just what I’m looking for!”, it then quickly descends into “Oh look, there’s that person on holiday with their partner, wow that pool looks amazing, are those mojitos in their hands, oh there’s their friends, there’s that really cool club”… and before you know it you’ve spent two hours looking at completely irrelevant stuff and are no closer to reaching out to a potential candidate.

I know it’s tempting to get sucked in but you NEED to be strict on yourself when sourcing on Facebook. Get in, get the job done and get out quick!! Stick to the task at hand. Reward yourself with Facebook time later if you have to.

2. Not using Facebook’s Social Graph

You will not get anywhere on Facebook unless you are use Graph Search. Graph Search is a massively powerful search engine of all the data within Facebook. According to Facebook sourcing expert, Shane McCusker; people, companies, groups and even concepts are represented on Facebook by different types of Pages. Every time a user does something on Facebook it creates a relationship between that user and the other thing they have liked or friended or interacted with. All these pages and the relationships between them are searchable and provide a massive freely available resource to recruiters.

But Graph Search isn’t available to everyone. Currently, it is only available to people who have English (US) selected as their default language on the site. So the first thing you need to do it start using it is to change your language settings on Facebook to English (US). In order to change your default language settings you must do the following:

  • Login to your Facebook account.
  • Navigate to the top right corner of your homepage and click the dropdown arrow.
  • Choose Settings.
  • In here there will be a section for language.
  • Select English (US) from the list.

Once you’ve done this check out our dedicated webinar on how to use Facebook Graph Search to find great candidates:

Or if that just seems like too much hassle, check out this amazing tool developed and created by our good friend, the aforementioned, Shane McCusker. Much like our free SourceHub product, which automatically creates complex Boolean strings for you, the Facebook Search Tool takes the hassle out of using Graph Search by doing all the legwork for you. It makes use of over 10 different Facebook operators and combines them in ways to tap the mine of information on Facebook and create all sorts of complex searches so you can find exactly the type of candidates you’re looking for. And the best part is, it’s FREE! For a short demonstration of how this amazing product works, check out Shane’s video below (you won’t regret it!):

For a short demonstration of how this amazing product works, check out Shane’s video below (you won’t regret it!):

3. Thinking Facebook is LinkedIn

Because Facebook is a personal social network as opposed to a professional network like LinkedIn, people are not going to necessarily state things like their job title, where they work, what they do or the skills they have. Therefore, when it comes to finding the people we want to find on Facebook, we have to think a little more creatively about how to find them than we do on the likes of LinkedIn.

When it comes to sourcing on Facebook it’s not so much about what the person says about themselves, it’s what they do on Facebook that tells you most about them. For example, while someone may not have stated that they are an accountant on Facebook, if they like a fan page for Chartered Accountants Ireland, it’s almost certain that they will be an accountant by trade. Similarly, people who like ARCHITECT magazine‘s page on Facebook are more than likely to be architect’s by trade due to the technical nature of the posts put up on the page.

Therefore, if you use Graph search to search for “People who like Chartered Accountants Ireland” you should get a list of accountants:

Facebook Mistakes

Once you have found these people, you can then start to refine your search to find the people you really need. For example, if you’re looking for accountants in Dublin you might search; “People who like Chartered Accountants Ireland and live in Dublin”:

Facebook Mistakes

Or if you need accountants to have completed a certain education, you can search for; “People who went to University College Dublin and like Chartered Accountants Ireland”.

Become creative with your searches. It’s cliché to say it, but do think outside the box. Facebook is not LinkedIn and, as a result, you will not necessarily find the people you’re looking for if you only go searching for people who mention they are an accountant/architect/chef/marketer etc. on their profile. Think of the roundabout ways you can find the right people. Do your research. Find pages certain people would likely be a fan of and do some digging to discover Facebook groups that relevant candidates may be contributing too.

4. Not planning where to connect

Just because you found a candidate on Facebook doesn’t mean you are obliged to or should reach out to them on Facebook too. Most people consider Facebook to be a private social network, a space where they interact with family and friends. They certainly don’t expect recruiters to contact them there. In fact, many may look upon your Facebook communication as an invasion of privacy.

Therefore, it’s important to use your common sense when deciding where to contact a candidate. If you see that the person you wish to reach out to has hundreds of photos in public albums, all of their posts are available for you to read, and they have a big network (400-500+), it probably means that they are a very open person on Facebook and won’t mind strangers contacting them there. Therefore, it’s okay to go straight for it and network with them through Facebook.

But, if the only visible photos on a person’s Facebook account are their profile and cover photos, or if they have hidden most of their posts, they are probably not someone who considers Facebook a very open place or somewhere they want to be contacted by strangers. In this case, it’s probably best to find an alternative way of contacting them, like on LinkedIn, or using your skills to find their email address or phone number:

5. Not knowing what and what not to say

Facebook can provide you with a wealth of information about the candidate you wish to reach out to, so that you can make your approach more personal and therefore, more likely to be responded to. Facebook can tell you what they like, what they don’t like, the countries they’ve been to, the events they’ve attended, the music they listen to, the films they’ve seen, the friends they have, whether or not they have children, if they own a pet, the list goes on! But you need to choose which information to use in your approach carefully and which information it’s best to not let on that you know.

For example, if you see a picture of a candidate at a football match and they happen to support the same team as you, feel free to make a reference to it. But of you see that they have three kids and that one of them just had a birthday last week, mentioning that might be a little too personal. While most people wouldn’t bat an eyelid at discussing their passion for their favourite team with a total stranger, they would be certainly uneasy about the fact you’ve brought they’re kids into a conversation.

You might have lots of information available to you about a person on Facebook, but choose the information you utilise wisely. You need to be friendly but not overstep the line.

6. Thinking that Facebook is a numbers game

Just because your Facebook careers page has over 10,000 followers does not mean it is a successful careers page. Numbers are not what counts on Facebook, engagement is.

What percentage of your followers actually engage with your careers page? Yes, you may have 10,000 fans but if you only get 3-5 likes or comments per post on your page, those 10,000 fans aren’t very engaged. On the flip side, you may only have 26 fans of your Facebook group for Python Developers, but every time you post something those 26 people like, share or comment on it. That’s 26 engaged Python developers you can now contact about open roles, that’s a lot of potential hires!

Oh, and paid engagement doesn’t count. So many recruiters fall into the trap of thinking that high engagement rates on posts they have paid to promote on Facebook are a true reflection of how engaged their fan base is. They’re not. Organic reach (or the total number of unique people who were shown your post through unpaid distribution) is the most telling form of engagement on your page.

So, don’t worry about the other people who have bigger fan bases. When it comes to running your Facebook careers page you need to ask yourself, how can I be useful to the people that belong to our page? What can I put out that will make them respond? Are they the right people responding? The best way to garner responses is by asking questions, sharing relevant news stories, adding your own commentary to current industry issues and asking fans for their opinions on those same issues.


So, there you have it folks, I hope this post has helped clear up at least some of the mystery surrounding the use of Facebook for recruitment and that you’ll feel more comfortable about using Facebook as part of your sourcing efforts in future. If you have any other questions about the use of facebook in recruitment let us know in the comments below or tweet us @SocialTalent.

If you’d like more Facebook recruiting tips be sure to check out our other blogs 7 Tips for Running a Successful Facebook Careers Page and How to: Ethically Screen Candidates on Facebook.


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