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The war for talent – LinkedIn vs Facebook

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In the beginning….

In an employee-driven market, the war for talent is becoming a reality for many industry sectors across different skillsets. Innovation, planning and digital expertise are required for successful talent acquisition campaigns. But these new avenues to reach candidates are only effective with a clear understanding of user habits, behaviours and lifestyles.

An understanding of the latter allows an opportunity to integrate into the user (candidate) lifestyle with a view to placing the right recruitment position in front of the right people. So, in basic marketing terms, this means accurate targeting that reaches the right audience relating to your objective.

Obviously, this must reflect the reality of the working environment you offer. What we mean is that there is often a disconnect between the way the offer is branded and the proposition that is actually on offer. This is where the power and influence of social media has risen significantly in recent years.

Social heroes

So, what do 85% of job seekers do when they see an opportunity they like? Well before they get to social media channels, they Google the company. What happens then is one of 3 things.

(a)  They are faced with lots of corporate channels and ‘global’ information not relating to the position.

(b) There is absolutely no social media presence which the brand owns or takes part in, except for poorly written reviews on Indeed (that have not been acknowledged).

(c) The third scenario is that the business has well indexed and relevant social media pages including Glassdoor (yes, it is social) and is actively enjoying and embracing the online thirst for engagement. If you are reading this smugly, then yes you are what I would call a ‘social hero’.

Social media is a window into the business and it should be seen as an opportunity for every business to showcase their edge, especially in recruitment.

The intangible benefits that an effective social media strategy can provide go well beyond just brand awareness. It’s the starting point of developing a brand relationship which can communicate the company culture, values, expertise and more, making your company a more attractive place to work.

To delve even deeper, it is not only talent acquisition that can feel the impact but also engagement with existing employees and a very real premise to create brand ambassadors inside your organisation. These can then form the foundation for a successful employee referral programme.

In an ever-changing digital landscape, social media is becoming the hub and battleground for businesses to attract and retain the best talent. LinkedIn and Facebook are often cited as the key channels for talent, both for their database size and the nature of their targeting/offering – but which one is really the right place to be looking?

LinkedIn – first blood

It is estimated that 94% of recruiters spend approximately an average of 2-3 hours a week looking for candidates on LinkedIn. Game, set and match to LinkedIn, right?

Actually, it has been reported at the time of writing that despite the platform boasting over 610 million users, the average user spends around 17 minutes a month searching or applying for jobs on the network. This goes against the common misconception that LinkedIn is primarily a recruitment platform.

Of course, it’s further confusing as to why so many recruiters spend their time posting opportunities and networking on there as well.

Well, to make a case for the LinkedIn platform, it has never claimed to be a specialism for recruitment. It is a business network made up of professionals and companies offering the opportunity to network, engage and communicate with, and learn from, each other.

So, what is the benefit of using LinkedIn? Although an offering for LI advertising exists and of course you can post and raise awareness of roles (and hire successfully), it is perhaps just a portal for communication and engagement with potential candidates. As mentioned earlier, users who like the look of an opportunity will almost certainly stumble across the company LinkedIn page looking for more information. How many people work there, calibre of colleagues, structure, anyone you know etc. How the business carries itself on LI is the only opportunity they may have to enhance their reputation and standing with new (and existing) employees.

Facebook – the blue-faced assassin

To turn the discussion on its head even further, statistics report that there are more active jobseekers on Facebook than there are on LinkedIn. Facebook is a great example of a platform that integrates itself into the user lifestyle and takes out a lot of the hard work in terms of attraction/targeting.

Their ad platform, as frustrating as it can be for fellow experts at times, is sophisticated to the extent of being able to specifically target job seekers as well as specialisms or interests going beyond just job titles. For example, where the LinkedIn audience remains mainly a professional network, Facebook is more people-centric and can reach a wider audience with lower skillsets and different lifestyles. They do this through data that frightens the life out of some people but that is a different blog altogether.

For example, cleaners, maids, drivers, etc. may not be seen on LinkedIn as often but the chances are they are targetable via Facebook and more often than not open to opportunities to enhance or develop their career if you put the right opportunity in front of them. This creates the perfect opportunity to reach out to both active and passive candidates and really demonstrate your brand’s flair, personality and attraction.

End game

The end game is that these two platforms can do a team-up rather than compete with each other. It is without a doubt that both offer an ability to reach users in unique ways. In terms of attraction, it could very much depend on the type of roles that are on offer and understanding on which platforms that audience skillset is likely to appear.

LinkedIn offers a fantastic base for your ambassadors and potential ambassadors to engage with you and create a professional relationship and enhance your reputation in an environment where it really matters, especially when potential applicants want to find out more about you. In contrast, Facebook has the ability to attract and put your opportunity to the right people in a much broader capacity.

In essence, this is not a war of the platforms as such as there is nothing stopping a business utilising them both in the best way possible.

The war is in fact between you and your competitors who may be failing to deliver fully on the tools and opportunities at your disposal.


Kameron Abbas