East Palo Alto resident Christopher Boyd, 54, has a lot of job experience. His resume lists expertise in enterprise architecture and artificial intelligence — but for the last five years, he hasn’t been able to land a job.
“I find as a highly experienced person that is over the millennial age, my resume can’t even get past the screening process.”
Boyd estimates he has filled out thousands of online applications for tech jobs. As a resident of East Palo Alto, it feels demoralizing, he says, to drive by big tech campuses day after day.
“It’s more than frustrating. It has a significant toll on people. They begin to feel depressed, they begin to feel outdated.”
As Facebook is poised to expand its headquarters, the social media giant has begun asking residents like Boyd how the company could be a better neighbor. In addition to more affordable housing and less traffic, residents say they want a more transparent way to apply for jobs — and Facebook says it’s now doing something about that.
Under a new portal on the Facebook Jobs website called Access, residents from East Palo Alto, Belle Haven and North Fair Oaks can apply for jobs and hear directly from someone about whether they qualify to move on in the application process.
“It’s really having someone here in place that can allow for there to be additional attention paid to the resumes of local candidates,” says Juan Salazar, public policy manager for Facebook. “That’s having someone really advocate for those folks, like our recruiters and so forth, to get them placed.”
If applicants meet hiring criteria, they will go through the process like everyone else. If they need more training, Facebook says it will share ways to gain those skills.
Access, Salazar says, is also a portal for contractors. Until now, one of the few ways candidates would learn about contracting jobs was through job fairs.
“I think for us, it’s meet them in the middle in terms of determining how is it that they can get connected to the tech economy.”
This isn’t the first time Peninsula residents have pushed for big tech companies to hire more locals.
Last spring, when Amazon moved into East Palo Alto, the retail giant said there weren’t enough high-skilled residents to fill what’s called the “first source” rule, which requires companies to hire 30 percent of their employees from within the city.
Residents protested, and Amazon and the developer made a concession by partnering with the nonprofit JobTrain. The career counseling center now has an office on the Amazon campus, and provides job training, classes and resume building for community members.
“This employment center was kind of the catalyst in really trying to make a good-faith effort to the community to provide some support for people that were looking for work,” says Art Taylor, chief program officer of JobTrain.
JobTrain is where Boyd learned about the option of going back to school to brush up his resume.
He’s now taking a web tech class taught through the nonprofit in conjunction with Salesforce.
“If somebody will take a look at our capabilities, we will get jobs,” says Boyd. “Just having the expectation of being treated the same, let’s say, as other millennial resumes that are crossing the desk of hiring managers. This would change life from darkness to a sunlit day with hope in it.”
In 10 months, Boyd will have a new certification — and renewed hope, he says, that this time around, someone on the other side of that online portal will give him a shot.