The Origins, Launch, and Early Results of Facebook’s Contingent Workforce Group

Facebook is a publicly traded global social network with more than 50,000 employees and more than 2 billion monthly users. In this article, Colin McDonagh, Global Program Manager of Contractor Programs at Facebook, shares an overview of Facebook’s Contingent Workforce Group. He reveals the origins of Facebook’s Direct Sourcing Program and sheds light on the processes involved in the program. McDonagh concludes the article with the pilot, launch, and early results of the program.

Hear from @colin_mcdonagh, Global Program Manager of Contractor Programs at @Facebook, as he discusses his experience with #ContingentWorkforces and sourcing top candidates in @TalentTechLabs latest Trends Report: Share on X

An Overview of Facebook’s Contingent Workforce Group

Our Contingent Workforce team sits within HR and encompasses three different groups. The first is our Contingent Workforce Business Partner program (CWBP’s). The CWBP team is an internal group at Facebook that consults and guides us on all things related to our Contingent Workforce without having a vested interest in the outcome, other than we get great people and engage them compliantly. We have a Vendor Management team that focuses on improving processes & tools, mitigating risks, and advising our business owners on supplier management best practices within our People teams. Thirdly, We have our Contingent Workforce Operations Team, which is divided into two pillars: Vendor Programs and Contractor Programs. I manage our Contractor Programs, where I am focused on ensuring Facebook achieves competitive differentiation when attracting, engaging, and retaining the very best contractor talent.

The Origins of Our Direct Sourcing Program

I’ve always been interested in and a proponent of understanding how you can use your employer brand to attract talent. I used to run MSPs myself and would be frustrated because we would be telling the agencies one message but couldn’t control whether that message was getting communicated through the supply base. After I joined Facebook, I saw the opportunity for us to leverage our strong brand. Our full-time recruiters do an excellent job communicating our brand to our full-time candidates, but we were off with our messaging to our agencies on the contingent side of the house.

We went to internal recruiting partners to understand the size and scale of the talent pool we have, the traffic we get organically, whom our recruiters and headhunters are talking to, and understand what the business needs were. We saw we had a fantastic talent pool. There were also many situations where we’d hire someone, but we’d have 2 or 3 applicants that were also just phenomenal, but we could only pick 1. It made us wonder how often we were turning away great applicants because we had nowhere else for them. So it seemed the ripest areas to start were hiring manager referrals and silver medalists. With this, I built a business case and shared the vision internally with our HR Operations leadership team, and they were fully supportive and gave the green light to go for it.

How Our Direct Sourcing Program Works

We use Beeline for our Vendor Management System, AGS (Allegis Global Solutions) as our MSP, and TalentNet as our Direct Sourcing technology. We also partner with four curation specialists, which have re-architected their business to serve this model — Tundra in the US, Harvey Nash in the UK, Recruiters in Ireland, and Optimum in Singapore.

How it works is the MSP and VMS typically run as any CW program would, and the direct sourcing program with TalentNet runs as its pool within the program, with integrations between Beeline and TalentNet. When a requisition is created, the technology kicks in and starts to match talent in our talent pools against the assignment, and we begin to communicate with candidates. The goal of all this is a couple of things. We want to make it easier for a hiring manager to share a link on social media and start driving organic candidate traffic, which helps us grow the internal network. Second, we want to go to a hiring manager, share insights on the talent we already have in the pool, and see if those people can meet their needs.

In @TalentTechLabs latest Trends Report, @colin_mcdonagh Global Program Manager of Contractor Programs at @Facebook, looks back on his time working with sourcing #contingentworkers Share on X

The agencies that act as our curation partners opted into this model and handle all of the aspects a recruitment partner normally would, providing an excellent experience to the candidate throughout the process. They also payroll the workers at the end. They make it clear who they are as an organization to the candidate but recruit using the Facebook brand as an extension of Facebook. We retain the provenance of the candidates sourced in this process, so for instance, one of our curation partners couldn’t turn around and try to place one of our direct sourcing candidates at another of their clients. Our process does not restrict the candidate from working directly with our partners on other engagements once they are engaged separately.  

When we were looking at curation specialists, we ran a global RFP and examined several different models. We looked at having a global provider do the whole thing, having multiple providers per region, etc. We picked the model that some might say looks the hardest, but actually, we think it works the best. We had all companies agree to share their performance metrics, so all the companies that participate in Facebook’s direct sourcing program are genuinely acting as partners. We keep the country talent pools themselves separate, for many reasons, including the candidate experience, as we’re not marketing jobs to candidates in the wrong country.

Pilot, Launch, and Early Results

Our Direct Sourcing program is still very young. We started with a pilot in Ireland for six months. It was intentionally slow and small, as I was initially afraid we’d open the floodgates too fast. Since it was a pilot, we started without any technical integrations, and one of our learnings was you need the integrations to get the most value out of the program. So today, when you start a request in our VMS, it also opens in TalentNet automatically. This allows us to quickly engage with our talent pool and assess candidates’ suitability while completing the administrative approval process.

Today, we’re about four months into our live process and are still operating in a relatively restrained way to make sure we get our processes right, but we see an awful lot of early success. We’re currently live in four regions: Ireland, the UK, the US, and Singapore. The US has been the most successful for us, though it is still early days; we are way ahead of where we expected to be at this point. We started with a certain number of requisitions we thought we could expect to fill this year based on what we did last year, and we’re on target to double that initial expectation.

Looking forward, we’ll look to keep expanding our direct sourcing capabilities opportunistically and continue to build out and codify our processes with the broader supply chain. Longer-term, I think that our direct sourcing will increase the brand of the whole program internally.

Company Overview of Facebook

We’ve structured ourselves at Facebook so that our contingent workforce team sits within HR. The contingent workforce team encompasses a couple of areas. One is our Contingent Workforce Business Partner Program, which is the same as an HR Business Partner Program. They consult on guidance, support, internal stakeholders, and all initiatives related to the contingent workforce. 

When I joined the first international contingent workforce business partner, I eventually scaled out a small team. Only 12-13 individuals comprised the team, and Facebook was a company of 50,000 employees. It was around one business partner for every 5000 people. Facebook also had the contingent workforce operations team, which I’ve moved across into and split into two verticals. One is a Contractor Program, and the other is a vendor program. I looked after the Contractor Program. We recently moved to a GIS, so we’re going to roll out a statement work program, and we’ve got other areas into which we are transitioning. I have ownership of our Contract Resourcing program, our Direct Sourcing Program, and our Small Services Program.

Direct Sourcing Program Overview

I’ve always been a proponent of understanding how you can articulate and use the brand to attract talent. It is essential to ensure you have the right compelling story that’s going out into the marketplace. There are many frustrations around making sure you convey the right message. For example, you’re telling the agencies one message, but are you sure that message is getting to the marketplace? Are you truly in control of your message? Trying to create more of a common message between the business and the marketplace was incredibly important. 

When I joined Facebook, and after some time, I just saw the opportunities to leverage our compelling employer brand. Our recruitment team did a phenomenal job and invested a lot of time and effort into that. We then handed it off to recruiting agencies on the contingent side of things. We were doing the right thing here from a company perspective, from an attraction of talent perspective, and an opportunity perspective. Through a process of discovery, we went and asked questions of various recruiting partners such as, “What’s your kind of overall insight into how many people apply for jobs on Facebook every year?”

In @TalentTechLabs latest Trends Report, @colin_mcdonagh Global Program Manager of Contractor Programs at @Facebook discusses his strategies and approaches to working with #ContingentWorkers. Read more: Share on X

There was a common scenario when I would get down to two exceptional candidates. I thought either one would be awesome. Can it not hurt then to have conversations with both candidates? And then a voice in the back of my head said, what happens to the other person? The other person who came back and told us he was devastated. I talked to the hiring manager. It was a 1% chance. If we were building a team, we’d hire him. But we need someone who can do some stuff first; before we can build the teams, we need to hire him. And that was it. But the other guy never got a call back. And it was never an opportunity. I always wonder, “what other opportunities potentially were there?” Could there be this contract or roles that will do these things? 

I shared my vision internally within the HR team. We did a pilot in Ireland for about six months. It was a slow start. I was afraid that we had nearly opened the floodgates, but I got a break. Even fast-forwarding to right now and four months later, we need to do so much. We are proceeding in a very restrained manner. Yet, we still see a tremendous amount of success. 

When we started the process, we kept it small and didn’t have any technical integrations because it was a pilot. There were manual switches. We were waiting for things to happen in the state of how our requests would normally be managed in the contingent world. It was one of our big lessons learned. We now have an integration between our VMS and TalentNet. When the request is created in the VMS, it opens in TalentNet automatically. Before the requests are launched, our direct source team is on it. They are advertising and checking our talent pools. 

So how it works is that our MSP and BMS run as a normal program does. Our telematics solution or a direct source solution is a pool within the program. It has an integration with the technology. Beeline feeds the system to tell them that the request gets created. Then, the technology kicks in, and the curation team starts to look at this. But the technology kicks in and starts to match people on the assignment within our pool. The technology starts to message those candidates to say, “Hey, you’ve messaged Facebook. Are you interested? Yes or  no, look here for more details.”

So the goal of this is a couple of things. One is we have a live trial by a creative freedom manager. So when their MSP goes in to meet the manager, they do the intake, and they’re like, “Hey, by the way, here’s the link for you to share on your social networks of your role. We’re working towards a place where the system will also say, “We’ve also looked in the Facebook talent pool, and we’ve identified two candidates who could be good.” It would then provide a little insight into those candidates and give questions around the specific skill set. For example, it would be great if the system could say you’re looking for a Project Manager with these four skill sets. If we found someone with three out of four of these skill sets in this experience, would you be interested in that person? Or if we have like a silver medalist and that’s when things would start to work with our recruiting organization. It would be ideal for providing silver medalists with the ability to register and become our contractor. 

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