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Employers: understand the right way to post job ads on Facebook

Nowadays, the world lives on social media. More and more people get their news from platforms like Facebook and Twitter than ever before. If you need to spread the word about an upcoming event or opportunity, utilizing social media seems like a logical place to start.

It makes sense, then, that many employers have moved away from the classified ads section of the newspaper and have started using Facebook to advertise their job postings.

How Facebook ads work

Facebook ads offer a number of useful features over traditional advertising. You can control who sees your post by using a feature known as "audience targeting." This allows you to define the audience you're aiming to attract based on their geographic location, interests and personal characteristics.

This feature can be extremely useful in many ways. If you're organizing a jazz music festival in Vancouver, for example, you can use these Facebook features to advertise to people within a 50-mile radius of Vancouver who like jazz music -- and not to people in Calgary who like classical music.

However, audience targeting also has its drawbacks.

Challenges with job advertising

While Facebook targeting can do a lot to help you attract the ideal candidate, it's important to also be sure that you're doing so within the confines of the law. Federal and provincial laws state that employers cannot limit who sees a job posting based on protected characteristics, such as age and gender. If you target your job ad so that it is only visible to women under 40, for example, this could be a violation of Canadian human rights law. The only exception to this rule is if you can demonstrate that such targeting is a specific occupational requirement.

CBC News recently analysed job ads from more than 260 Canadian employers. Of this sample group, it found that around 60% of the Facebook ads targeted specific age groups, while 16 of the ads targeted a specific gender. It also found that some government agencies in Canada were guilty of targeting Facebook job advertisements based on age.

Canadian law is firm when it comes to employment-based discrimination. It's important to understand that these laws apply not just to equal and inclusive treatment within the workplace, but also to equal and inclusive exposure to employment opportunities.

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