BranchOut is No Longer “Friends Only”

Not even a month ago I posted a blog called BranchOut: The Professional Network on Facebook and a New Recruiting Tool? and I can say to you now–you can remove the question mark!

BranchOut just soft released a new connections feature allowing users to connect with people outside their Facebook network and share work history and education information with other Branchout users–even if your not Facebook friends. That makes this an even better tool for recruiters to connect with both passive and active candidates without worrying about ‘getting too personal’.
Rick Marini, CEO of BranchOut, told Recruiter.com,
“BranchOut heard the requests from recruiters that wanted a way to connect with other professionals within Facebook, in a safe and secure way, and I am very excited to announce the launch of BranchOut Connections. BranchOut members can now share their work history, education and skills data with others members, without becoming Facebook friends.  This is an important step for BranchOut to provide robust career networking functionality within Facebook.”

In my previous post I reflected on the reluctance of many recruiters to connect with job seekers on Facebook saying, “Recruiters have been really slow to begin utilizing Facebook as a recruiting tool because they are afraid of mixing business with personal life”. While I went on to stress that the lines between business and personal in the web 2.0 world is becoming more blended and recruiters should be more open to utilizing Facebook’s larger network to connect, this was a real obstacle that Branchout was facing. Even if recruiters wanted to connect with candidates…candidates may be afraid of connecting with them for those same reasons.

On Linkedin, professionals don’t think twice about connecting with colleagues or recruiters because there are no pictures tagged of you from that party last Saturday and your mom isn’t posting embarrassing comments on your wall that could potentially seen by a potential employer. Facebook tends to be a place for your personal contacts outside of work [You can set individual privacy settings for specific groups of connections or individuals you are connected to on Facebook but most people don’t take the time do it (only 1 in 5 users even take advantage of this feature) and it can be quite cumbersome to maintain.]

The post by Recruiter.com put’s it very well…

Recruiters always want to leverage the hundreds of millions of user profiles on Facebook. However, recruiters often find that recruiting on Facebook is like trying to fix a muffler with a toothbrush. BranchOut makes Facebook the right tool for recruiting and professional connection. BranchOut essentially overlays a professional platform on top of Facebook – adding user data fields for work history and professional description. It turns your existing Facebook friend network into a Linkedin-esque  professional network for work related discovery.

However, because BranchOut leveraged the Facebook friend mechanism as the exclusive method of connection, recruiters were still left in a bind. Users were beholden to expansion of their network through Facebook friending – which to many is as intimate of an experience as inviting someone into your home.

BranchOut plans to launch more fully developed recruitment services in the near future, but now may be the time to start connecting. The early super connectors in any social network become the network hubs of the future.

Do you think this new feature will make BranchOut an even more viable competitor to Linkedin? If you’re a recruiter, I’d love to hear what you think about this new feature and if you plan to or currently use Branchout. Please comment below.

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