BranchOut: The Professional Network on Facebook and a New Recruiting Tool?

BranchOut, the fast growing professional network on Facebook is beginning to gain some traction but could it become a threat for Linkedin? They recently made it even easier to create a full resume on their site by syncing your Linkedin profile. I’ve been introducing this application to a lot of people in my Facebook and Twitter networks and so far the reaction has been very possitive. I just got a tweet back from one colleague that just joined it 30 min ago that said:

jakefrick: @willstaney 10 minutes later, i don’t know if i’ll check my linked in ever again

Of course, he was being sarcastic but there could be some truth to this. The average Linkedin user spends 15min a month on the site. If you’re a recruiter trying to send a message to someone on Linkedin about a job your trying to fill within a month…I hope you sent it during that 15 mins. Facebook users (almost 600 million strong) spend an average of 50 minutes on Facebook….a day!! You are much more likely to get a quicker response and more updated information on a social network that users spend that much time on.

BranchOut describes their solution like this:

BranchOut helps you expand your career network to include absolutely everyone you know on Facebook. It’s an incredibly powerful tool — but also a lot of fun to explore.

Every time a Facebook friend joins BranchOut, you see where they used to work, where they work now, and where their friends work. You’d be surprised how many connections you have at companies you’ve always wanted to work at — all through friends of friends. If you’re looking for your dream job, these connections can open the door.

Not only that, you can help your friends get the jobs they want and make yourself look good while you do it. Have an open position you need to fill with the perfect candidate? Post it to our job board and take the guesswork out of hiring. Your friends can recommend people they know and trust.

I’ve been researching this app a lot and there is a lot of buzz in the recruiting industry around it. I think there is a real benefit here. Think about the people who are most likely to refer you to a job. It’s not that guy who gave you a business card at a conference that one time that you connected with on Linkedin. It’s that friend you went to college with, your uncle in the banking industry,  or your old friend from highschool. People who can really vouch for you and are comfortable really reaching out to their network for you to help you land that job.  Your personal network. With the amount of users on Facebook this is a huge untapped resource for networking with people to help you find jobs at companies your friends or mutual friends work at. I was surprised I had 5,000+ PERSONAL connections at companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, VMware and other great companies to work for!

Recruiters have been really slow to begin utilizing Facebook as a recruiting tool because they are afraid of mixing business with personal life. Well, I say to that: In this day of age and in the generation to proceed us…there won’t be that much distinction between worklife and personal life. I don’t know why we pretend there is now! You commonly become friends with people you work with or end up working with friends. I wouldn’t post ANYTHING online that I wouldn’t feel comfortable with my boss seeing (or my mother for that fact…though she’s my Facebook friend too. And why not?). Anything you post on the internet runs the risk of being public or coming back to bite you so just use common sense.

Now think about it from a recruiting stand point. Companies spend big money on recruiter licenses to be able to search for and send messages to users on Linkedin. On Facebook…you can message just about anyone you want whether your friends or not (unless they turned that privacy feature on) for FREE. The facebook social graph is so much more complex because of it’s sure size that 6 degrees of separation works even better than on a smaller network like Linkedin.

As far as BrachOut goes, though, I think Linkedin really might have dropped the ball on this one. For years I’ve been wondering when a Facebook app for Linkedin would come out.  A colleague of mine, Simon Salt, Founder and CEO of Incslingers wrote a blog about this. Do you think Linkedin missed the boat by not integrating with Facebook sooner? It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Check it out here:

Has LinkedIn missed the boat now we have BranchOut?

So, what do you think? Will BranchOut end up being a major competitor for Linkedin? Will Linkedin surprise us with an integration with Facebook much like they did with Twitter? Comment below.