Facebook Might Be Working On A Job Board, But Don’t Get Too Excited

Stop the presses! Facebook and LinkedIn are about to become archrivals in the recruiting market! At least, that’s the implication of a Wall Street Journal article, which reports that Facebook plans to launch a job posting board later this summer.

It’s a nice scoop if true (the Journal cites “people familiar with the matter”), but reading the story is a strange experience. Basically, it starts out by explaining why the job board isn’t a big deal. Then, having established that it isn’t a big deal, the story talks about what a big deal it is.

The board will reportedly aggregate job listings from third-party services like BranchOut, Jobvite, and Work4 Labs, making them searchable for Facebook users. One of the quoted sources describes it as “lightweight” and says, “It doesn’t feel like a big effort that they’ve worked on for a long time.” Someone also says Facebook didn’t build the site itself, and instead got a third-party developer to do it. The Journal reports that Facebook doesn’t plan to monetize the service initially, and says it’s “unclear” whether the company will do so in the future.

Apparently, the job board might be an extension of the Social Jobs Partnership that Facebook announced with the US Department of Labor last fall. In fact, if you read the program announcement, one of the partnership’s plans was to “explore and develop systems where new job postings can be delivered virally through the Facebook site at no charge.”

A Facebook spokesperson, meanwhile, sent me the obligatory statement: “We don’t comment on rumor or speculation.”

Add that all up, and what do you get? A cool-sounding feature, possibly part of an existing partnership, but not a major new direction or revenue source for the company. So … why talk about how it could be “more of a threat to other professional networking sites such as LinkedIn”? Or the stuff about the evolution of recruiting and the size of online recruiting industry? All of this speculation comes with caveat of, “If Facebook decides to get serious about this … ” but the story doesn’t offer any real evidence that that’s going to happen.

Again, I’m not trying to take away from the Journal’s scoop. It’s just that parts of the article are … puzzling. And as someone who’s had his own moments of pressure (from myself or from my editors) to make news seem like a bigger deal than it is, I’m seeing some familiar signs. With all the “ifs”, “shoulds”, and “coulds” it almost feels like the Journal had a dramatic story in their head about Facebook vs. LinkedIn. When it turned out to be less of a page turner than expected, they weren’t quite willing to let it go. (I’m also not opposed to blue-sky speculation — speculation is fun! — but a little dodgier when mixed in with real reporting.)

Put another away: Could Facebook become a more serious player in recruiting? Sure, anything is possible. But there’s nothing here to make me think it’s more likely.