How To Recruit Like Facebook

by | March 2020


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Want to know how to recruit like Facebook? The social platform was opened in 2006 to everyone aged 13 and older with a valid e-mail address. In 2018, the annual Fortune 500 list has Facebook as its sixth most valuable company. In 12 years, it’s gone from being a start-up to a global influencer of just under 25% of the world’s population. Facebook’s commercial success is undeniable.

When Facebook first started to grow, Mark Zuckerberg asked CEOs at Microsoft, Apple and others about the things they did early on to explain to people what it meant to work there. He wrote a succinct list of what it meant to be “one of us”:

  1. A very high IQ - IQ is the measure of human intelligence, which is our intellectual prowess enabling us to experience and think
  2. Strong sense of purpose - A sense of purpose is shaped by things we believe in and value. It’s our own personal code of behaviour which helps us live by these values
  3. Relentless focus on success
  4. Aggressive and competitive
  5. High-quality bar, bordering on perfectionism
  6. Likes changing and disrupting things
  7. New ideas on how to do things better
  8. High integrity - Valuing being honest and having a strong moral standard of good behaviour that won’t change
  9. Surrounds themselves with good people
  10. Cares about building real value over the perceived value

To express his ideas and thoughts about the reality of what being part of, and accepted within, the growing team at Facebook looked like, Mr Zuckerberg zeroed in on:

  • Personality characteristics
  • Values
  • Interests
  • Psychological make-up
It would be hard to deny that a significant contributor to Facebook’s commercial success and influence is its culture. It has been at the top of the US “best place to work” surveys for many years, and its people cite Facebook’s impact, culture, perks and CEO as the critical factors that achieve this.

When recruiting, Facebook discards traditional philosophy; cultural fit comes first. As a starting point, Facebook investigates the alignment of values between talent and itself. It has proven that lack of alignment of values typically results in poor outcomes for both parties.

It has flexible but specific acceptance standards. Applicants don’t need to demonstrate formal education to

get a job, but they do need to have the skills, commitment, and drive to make things happen. After a six-week on boarding program, each new employee identifies the team and project they’d like to join, ensuring that they’re most likely to thrive.

While focusing on the traditional skill and experience paradigm, Facebook takes the consideration of personality, values, interests and psychological make-up to a whole new level. As a disruptive and global influencer of society at large it makes sense that its recruitment philosophy and practices are also disruptive and outlandishly successful.

Any organisation can enhance the selection of the best talent by placing as much attention on the same factors as Facebook. It’s not hard to do. However, it requires a more strategic approach to talent pipeline management than the typical transactional fill-a-vacancy-when-it-occurs approach often in use.

Let’s consider a simple and cost-effective approach: Before a vacancy exists, provide those in the external talent pipeline with an experience that leads to pro-active, action-oriented dialogue about organisational and team fit, as well as skill and experience requirements. No one else is offering this currently, so you are developing brand advocates, as well as maximising whole-of-person best-fit, regardless of whether they become employees or not. It doesn’t need too cost much.

How does this work?

Use current techniques to engage external talent with potential for future needs, based on succession and workforce analysis and gap identification.

Guide them through a comprehensive career assessment. It’s probably the first time they’ve experienced a detailed examination of themselves or created a blueprint of the kind of working environment in which they thrive. Your organisation is providing them with an experience and outcome that will drive their future success, regardless of whether it’s with you or not. Your employment brand gets some significant accolades for this; who else is doing it at all, let alone doing it well?

What you’ll need to assess:

  • Personality characteristics
  • Values
  • Interests

Debrief external talent to consider personality, values and interests to define the kind of team culture and leadership styles in which they can thrive.


  • Skills and achievements
  • Professional identity

Then create each individual Value Proposition to the world of work. Finally, create a blueprint of the ideal role and environment for the individual. This process can be drip fed to talent in the external pool to keep them engaged with your organisation. It provides talent with a template of the ideal environment and type of work for their future motivation and success.

Your completed template can be shared between external talent and the organisational talent team to consider and discuss “best-fit” potential. This provides tactical, factual data, way more tangible than predictive technology currently used. While the data from this technology adds a layer of useful content, at best it assesses an individual’s self-concept and self-esteem based on online behaviour.

By assessing an individual’s personality characteristics, interests and values, organisations rely on individuals’ lifetime experience of living and working, guided by these elements. This allows talent to consider the kind of environment where they can be successful, contributing to an organisation’s success.

This detailed assessment allows the organisation to consider the kind of environment that an individual will thrive in and assess whether the organisation, business unit or teams provide that. Skills and experience

can be brought into consideration about specific roles, once the culture/leadership fit has been clarified and agreed upon by both parties.

Which of your competitors is providing this experience to its external talent pipeline? What does it do to your organisation’s brand? How can it influence making the best selection decisions for future success? What impact will it make on minimising mismatches of fit and the costs associated with these? How can it improve the performance of individuals and teams? What contribution does it make to engaging future high-impact contributors and leaders?

Why wait for your competitors to provide this experience to external talent and grab the edge in the 21st century super-charged war for the best talent?

Written by Greg Smith

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