With Facebook, Your Recruitment Pool Is One Billion PeopleSeptember 12, 2012
by J.J. Colao
When Hard Rock Café opened a restaurant in Florence, Italy in the spring of 2011, the company needed to hire 120 people in four weeks. They did it all through Facebook.
Using the services of a company called Work4Labs, Hard Rock first created a unique Facebook page for the restaurant. After running ads to target locals who ‘liked’ Rock and Roll, the company allowed potential hires to submit their applications directly through the social network.
The result was a fully-staffed restaurant for $2000, less than a tenth of what Hard Rock normally spends filling the ranks of a new location. The recruitment campaign came with another nice perk: Eight weeks later the Florence venue enjoyed a Facebook page with 25,000 new fans.
Stock price aside, Facebook is still by far the largest, most active social network in the world. The company sees nearly a billion people browse photos, chat and comment on walls each month while half those users visit almost every day. It may not be the right channel for recruiting C-level executives or $100k employees, but it is an unbelievably valuable tool in hiring for the throngs of entry-level and hourly positions that open up around the world each year.
Stephane Le Viet, a 33 year-old French entrepreneur, recognized the opportunity earlier than most. While running Multiposting, a company that broadcast job posts across dozens of online job boards, Le Viet’s clients began asking him about Facebook’s potential as a recruiting tool. “I took a look and decided that the opportunity was insane,” he says.
Founded with partner Gautier Machelon in June 2010, the company now helps 17,000 clients – including Accenture, Deloitte, UPS and Gap – hire through the social network. Today the company announced $11 million in Series A financing led by Matrix Partners and joined by Yuri Milner, former president of Monster.com Steve Porgorzelski, and Clara Shih from Hearsay Social.
“The social graph is the next job board,” predicts Dana Stalder, a partner at Matrix who will be joining Work4Labs’ board. “We think this is the next generation of recruitment on the Internet.”
Of course, so does Jeff Weiner at LinkedIn. Le Viet, however, is happy to let that company continue plugging vacancies near the top of the food chain. Work4Labs concentrates on the pool of labor that companies won’t find on LinkedIn – the huge volumes of recruits needed to fill entry-level positions and staff retail outlets, restaurant franchises and insurance agencies. “I don’t want to be competing against Reid Hoffman at this point,” he says.
According to Le Viet, online recruiting is a $27 billion market riddled with inefficiency. As any recent grad looking for a job can tell you, the current experience for job seekers is abysmal. On the corporate side, Le Viet points out that recruitment isn’t an exercise in value creation – it’s a pure cost center that distracts from the task at hand.
The company’s Work For Us app integrates into corporate Facebook pages as a tab on the top of the screen. Candidates drawn to the page through ads, organic referrals or their own search then click on the tab to browse available jobs. Simple enough.
But from here the product gets interesting. On the right, below the banner at the top of the page, candidates can click on one of three options. A job-matching button automatically filters positions to recommend those best-suited to the prospect’s interests, location and background. Job seekers can alternatively choose to scan their network to see if anyone they know can offer a referral. Or, by clicking on “Join Our Talent Pool”, prospects can submit their information to express interest in the open positions.
Most of the spots Work4Labs fills don’t require resumes or cover letters, Le Viet explains. “Recruiters are really just looking for interest and contact details,” he says. This means that this same functionality works seamlessly over a mobile device.
The company is currently taking the product one step further, piloting a referral program with AOL and Intel where company employees opt-in to give the software access to their Facebook friends. An algorithm then works its magic to suggest friends whose experience matches the company’s available positions. The product essentially automates employee referrals, by far the highest quality source of hires, while helping existing workers reap the benefits of referral incentive programs with minimal effort.
Though Le Viet won’t talk revenues, he will admit that the 70-person company generates millions of dollars annually. Work4Labs’ employees are divided between San Francisco, New York and Paris, with the bulk of the development team in France. The company started out catering to large enterprise clients – Accenture was one of its first customers – before moving down market to offer a self-serve product for small and medium-sized businesses. Basic subscriptions start at $9 a month while enterprise clients can pay upwards of $1ook annually.
So far, Work4Labs’ customers like what they see. Farmer’s Insurance has increased its budget by a factor of five since using the the company’s product; VistaPrint by 50.
Le Viet, an alumnus of Paris’ Ecole Polytechnique and Harvard University, bootstrapped his last company. Though never keen on taking outside capital to fund his ventures, the opportunity presented by Facebook is large enough to instill a sense of urgency. “There’s definitely a land-grab dimension here,” he says. Other players have caught on to the social network’s recruiting potential, though companies like BranchOut and Identified appear more concentrated on the consumer side of the equation. With the infusion of capital, the Work4Labs will focus on nailing down the algorithms behind its referral and job-matching engines while scaling up sales and marketing efforts.
“We’re building an app that can be sold to any company in the world on the largest social network in the world,” he says. Time to hurry up.