Starting in mid-February, Facebook users in the U.S. and Canada could search for and apply for jobs directly from the social media platform.

Companies post job openings at no cost along with other updates on their company Business page. (So far, companies are not able to boost job posts to target select audiences with sponsored news feed ads.) Job listings also appear on a new aggregated Jobs page, searchable by city, company type and manner of employment, full-time or otherwise.

The lure for companies: easy, virtually instant communication with a huge applicant pool. Some 40 percent of small businesses in the U.S. report that filling jobs was more difficult than they expected, according to Facebook.

Facebook says the new tool "will take the work out of hiring" and speed the process.

Wendy Gahn noticed the new Jobs link pop up in the navigation of her company Facebook page just as she began to search for help staffing two-year-old Lakeview Kitchen & Market, a rental space in Chicago.

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"It was great because it was easy," said Gahn, who was featured in a Facebook video introducing the service. "Three minutes to fill out the information on the app and put it out there, and then somebody walks through my door saying ‘Hey are you still hiring somebody, I saw your post,’ and we talked and it was done."

Not all Facebook Jobs applications are likely to zip from submit to "You’re hired" with such speed. However the listings (access them by clicking Jobs on the left rail of your home page) offer amazing immediacy to the world of work for those accustomed to connecting to the world via smart phones.

 "It was such a great experience and I did it all on my phone, which was great, too," said Ashley Bob, a makeup artist and job applicant who was featured in a Facebook promotion. "It was a lot easier than other places."

Bob said she had spent a lot of time looking for a job, "But I had no contacts so it was a little hard getting through to people." Someone in her Facebook group tipped her off to a job listing. She clicked on the company page, found the application, applied via Facebook and was hired.

Since the service went live, there has been speculation that Facebook Jobs would be dominated by low-pay, temporary positions and non-professional jobs, and that the new service would not challenge LinkedIn, Microsoft’s business-focused job search platform.

A spot check of listings on Facebook Jobs in late February turned up a remarkable variety of available positions, many of them full-time. Among them: cleaning technician/crew leader in Charleston, S.C. ($35,0000); personal assistant / house manager in San Francisco ($150,000); legal secretary at a Kansas City law firm; police officer for the Merriam, Kansas, Police Department ($42,556); graphic designer in St. Louis, financial services manager in New York City; and software engineers, user experience designers and product designers in San Francisco.