Ernst & Young Becomes First Employer to Use Facebook

Posted January 09, 2007 by

Ernst & Young LLP hires more than 5,500 college students and recent graduates a year for internships and entry level career opportunities…and that’s only in North America. How does an organization with such huge hiring needs find enough highly qualified candidates? In addition to the traditional on-campus recruiting efforts, employee referrals, and advertising on job boards and other media, E&Y now has a page on the social networking site, Facebook, which is one of the most popular sites amongst college students.

E&Y’s sponsored Facebook page contains information and discussion boards aimed at college students. Although students and other individuals use Facebook for free, E&Y paid an undisclosed fee to Facebook as their page is more akin to advertising than it is to a traditional Facebook profile page. Dan Black, director of campus recruiting for the Americas, told the Wall Street Journal that employers seek “new ways to reach out to the college audience.” While that is true, the WSJ correctly outlined some of the risks accepted by E&Y, such as negative comments posted to their page by students and other individuals who use Facebook and even enabling people who don’t like E&Y to connect more easily and perhaps allow their negative views to be more widely disseminated. In addition, the price paid to Facebook is only part of the true cost as E&P will incur costs related to the tremendous amount of staff time required to properly maintain a Facebook page. If they are not responsive to students who contact them through the page, they will look out-of-touch and do more harm to their brand than good.
E&Y’s page is the first sponsored page on Facebook that is used exclusively for recruitment purposes. Other organizations such as Microsoft have pages that include information about their hiring efforts, but this is the first time that an organization’s Facebook page has been only about their efforts to hire college students who are searching for internships and recent graduates who are hunting for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.
The response so far? About 5,100 Facebook users have linked to the E&Y page as “members.” I am one of them. Once you have a Facebook profile, you can search for people or organizations which are of interest to you. I found the E&Y page easily just by typing in “Ernst and Young” (without the quotation marks) into the Facebook search engine. Facebook then gave me the option of becoming a member of the E&Y page and I accepted. That’s all it took. Now E&Y’s recruiters will be able to review my profile. If I were a college junior or senior with a high GPA in a program such as business, finance, or accounting, my phone would probably be ringing right now.
On balance, I believe that this is a brilliant move by E&Y. College students and other members of Gen Y reward employers who embrace transparency. This is a big step towards E&Y becoming more transparent. It also sends a powerful message to students that E&Y is listening to their needs, wants, and desires. Recruiters who tell highly qualified candidates that they must apply through traditional channels will lose those candidates if those candidates want to connect through newer channels such as Facebook because those candidates have options and they know it.
Want to become a member of my Facebook page? Click on my “badge” and you’ll be added right away:
Steven Rothberg's Facebook profile.
Sources: Todd Raphael’s World of Talent and the Wall Street Journal

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