The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced a partnership with Facebook to help the roughly 14 million unemployed workers find employment.  For those of you in the recruiting and HR world, you know the unemployed face an uphill battle.  While not often publicly acknowledged, many companies have an “unwritten” rule that the “unemployed need not apply.”  For my part, I applaud the Department of Labor for trying to help address this serious problem and I hope this social experiment works.  We all know (even if the Department of Labor is a little late to the game) that both job seekers and employers are increasingly turning to social networks to find jobs or job candidates.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis explained that the new Social Jobs Partnership will highlight some existing job-search services on the new Facebook page in hopes of connecting job seekers with companies that are hiring.  The public must “like” the idea since over 14,000 people have already “liked” the new Facebook page.  In the Department of Labor press release, Secretary Solis stated:

Linking American job seekers with the resources they need to get back to work is a top priority of the Obama administration and my department.  By leveraging the power of the social Web, this initiative will provide immediate, meaningful and ready-to-use information for job seekers and employers, and a modern platform to better connect them.

The hope?  “Landing on this page can help Americans land good jobs,” Secretary Solis told a Washington news conference, and reported by the Los Angeles Times, Facebook partners with Labor Department to help job-seekers.  The Department of Labor also plans to expand the program to Twitter, LinkedIn and other social-networking sites.

“The social Web is changing the way that employers search for talent,” said Bill Warren, executive director of the DirectEmployers Association, told the Los Angeles Times. (DirectEmployer Association is one of the sponsors of the initiative.)  “This initiative is going to make the recruiting process easier and more efficient for both employees and job-seekers.” 

Jobvite’s survey of 800 U.S. based human resources and recruitment professionals this summer showed that 64% of employers hired through social networks this year.  So, for better or worse, the labor market is changing.  Job-seekers are increasingly turning to Facebook, and other social-networking sites, to search out new employment opportunities as these sites offer information on a 24-7 basis.  Said Marne Levine, Facebook’s vice president for global public policy “[t]hink of this as a free, on-line job fair that can be accessed seven days a week, day or night.”   

Linking job seekers and employers is a good thing.  I have always had hesitation about using Facebook to source candidates – although my recruiting friends and clients may not agree.  We will see how this works out.  In the meantime, please let us know whether this social experiment is working for any of you!