Social media recruitment

How Facebook Helps Create Unbiased Recruitment

3 min read · Advice & Insights / Social media recruitment · Published 2 years ago

When universities first began using Facebook as part of their overall marketing and recruitment strategies, they embraced the common practice of applying filters, often on the basis of age, gender, geography and other demographics, to better target ads to find the most relevant candidates. 

Unfortunately, an unintended consequence of this type of highly strategic ad placement is that some potential candidates never saw your advert. By restricting job postings to only certain locations, for example, you might have missed out on well qualified candidates outside your targeted geography. This type of bias has plagued university recruitment. 

Fortunately, Facebook has recently made an adjustment to its ad targeting policies to help address these pervasive concerns about biases and discrimination in recruitment. Facebook’s new rules and regulations will help your university find and attract the most qualified candidates. 

Now more than ever before, including social media platforms to your broader marketing and recruitment strategy is essential. These new rules will help your university eliminate biases and attract the most qualified candidates. 

Why did Facebook change their advertising rules?

As early as 2016, Facebook faced pressure to rethink their ad targeting practices. The American Civil Liberties Union, Outten & Golden LLP, the Communications Workers of America, job seekers and consumers, and fair housing and civil rights organizations across industries have pushed back on ad targeting by highlighting the harm to already marginalized groups. 

These groups of civil rights activists found that because Facebook could ensure certain ads were only delivered to users based on gender, a specific age range, or location (among other demographics and interests), their “job advertising practices violate federal civil rights laws prohibiting sex and age discrimination in employment.” 

As a result, they filed a lawsuit causing Facebook to change its advertising policies. These policies were first introduced in the United States in 2019 and initially applied only to US- or Canadian-based companies or companies advertising in those two countries. However, Facebook has recently started to enforce these policies in Europe as well. 

The new rules

To better serve its global community of users, Facebook now has several ad categories with specific guidelines about what information can and cannot be used to select audiences. These ad categories are meant to better serve those involved in the credit, employment, and housing sectors as well as those involved in social issues and politics, by eliminating bias from advertising. More specifically, the new Facebook regulations focus on discrimination based on age, location, and other demographics like gender and personal interests. 

As a university employer, when choosing your ad audience, you can no longer set an age range you want to target so as not to discriminate against potential candidates based on age. Furthermore, Facebook no longer allows any detailed targeting like other demographics, interests and behaviours. These measures help to ensure discriminatory practices are avoided. 

So how can I be sure Facebook shows my advert to individuals interested in my recruitment?

Recruitment for academic positions is not easy. While there are thousands of universities and thousands of potential candidates, matching them to one another can feel a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. It takes time and patience. 

Without targeted ads to the most relevant demographic groups, you may fear you’ll be wasting your resources. However, Facebook’s algorithms will adjust as your ad gains traction. It’s really the content of the ad that determines its the audience. If you’ve written a good ad that appeals to your desired candidate, they will click on it when they see it. Facebook learns from who interacts with your ad and show it to people who are similar those who clicked. As long as you’ve crafted a well-written advert, you will find it not only reaches your intended audience but it does so without any discrimination. 

It can also be advantageous to partner up with a recruitment marketing company to help make sure your ad reaches the candidates you want. This partner can create Facebook audiences based on their platform users so Facebook has to do less guessing to find the right audience for your recruitment. 

The bottom line for universities looking to use Facebook as part of their recruitment strategy 

Advertising on social media is critical for any university. Not only will a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to recruiting on these platforms give you access to the most qualified and impressive candidates, it will actually help you eliminate any bias —explicit or implicit— from the process. 

Because you can no longer target potential candidates based on certain demographic information, you need to let your job advert speak for itself. This means a great title, explaining the position accurately, and using gender-neutral language. Then let the algorithms do what they’re designed to do…find you your next colleague.


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