Facebook rolling out new program to promote local hiring

Facebook wants to do more local hiring and the company has started a new program to help it connect with the surrounding community.

The program, called Access, is specifically designed to connect residents in east Menlo Park and East Palo Alto with jobs – everything from electrical engineer to software engineer to receptionist positions.

"So wherever their skill set is, we want to be able to find opportunities at Facebook for them. And whether that's full time as a Facebook employee, through our vendors or through a contract company, it really doesn't matter. We just want to be able to meet them where they are," said Bernita Dillard, Facebook Public Policy Associate Manager. 

Dillard, a local herself, feels passionate about the project.

"When I came on board I thought that this would be a great idea and I think it would really be able to serve the community and serve Facebook as well,” she said. “So why not now?"

They're working in partnership with companies like Job Train and have recently sponsored a construction training program there.

COO Steve Schmidbauer says, in the past, Facebook had gotten mixed reviews about their local hiring and they've listened.

"It's not just that they said oh we've got to do this, but they said, we want to do this. And just setting the tone like that made a big difference," Schmidbauer said. 

Residents say they're both hopeful and skeptical of the program.

Zach Kirk, with Real Community Coalition, grew up in the area and is now a student at Stanford. "I have a sense of, I don't know, nervousness,” he said. “I’m excited about the program. but we're really just worried about what this roll out is going to look like."

He says the cost of living in the neighborhoods around Facebook has continued to skyrocket and people are working two or three jobs to make ends meet. 

He says residents don't just need jobs, they need high-paying ones with opportunities for advancement. 

"As an organizer I have to continue to ask for more. And what people is asking is for retraining. We go out and we hear yeah I have this janitor job over here but it's not doing it for me. And I really want to learn how to code," Kirk said. 

Facebook did a soft launch of the accessfb.com web page over the last few months. And while the company won't give numbers, they say they have already been making hires.

The company is also holding its first resume workshop for locals next week.