BranchOut was one of the earliest ‘job hunting’ apps available on Facebook, and it has parlayed its early mover advantage into significant signups (25 million users and counting) and investments from venture capitalists (they picked up another $25 million last week – yow!). It has portrayed itself as ‘LinkedIn for the Facebook crowd’ – a place where you search for workers from the 75% of the population that isn’t on LinkedIn.
In other words, it’s a job board that lives in Facebook.
But it’s more. Since it exists inside the social network, it has the ability (as it is always reminding you) to pull your Facebook friends into your BranchOut network. Why would you want to do that? Referrals. As we know from CareerXroads and numerous other studies, referrals can be a powerful hiring tool – so (if you know the right people) your own personal network can help you get hired. That’s the theory, anyway.
I decided to investigate. For the past several months, I’ve been using BranchOut, pretending that I was in fact looking for work on several occasions, and at other times pretending I wanted to hire someone. Here’s my 2 cents.
- The type of friends you have determines the kind of success you have: I’m a desultory Facebook user at best. I limit my friends to people I actually know. I keep my professional ‘friends’ over at LinkedIn. Thus, my BranchOut network was pretty useless. Maybe if I was a different kind of person my luck would be better?
- The interface is pretty cool: It’s easy to use, intuitive, and slightly pushy without being annoying.
- The job listings are, umm, limited: I know they claim millions of jobs listed, but when I went looking for a marketing job in Iowa, I found one. That’s right. That was interesting, as I believe they’re in a partnership with CareerBuilder. At any rate, when I ran the same search on , I managed to gather up 2,071 listings. I don’t know about most job seekers, but in my book, if I don’t find jobs, I’m not interested.
- Posting a job at no charge: That’s right, you can post a job to your network for nothing. Again, if you have the right kind of network, that’s pretty cool. If your company page has thousands of followers, that’s good too. But for my money, a posting would do better at LinkedIn – and better still at a targeted niche board. But, as you know, I’m biased.
- Social Job Board, CareerConnect, and RecruiterConnect make sense: In other words, BranchOut is selling the right things, in my humble opinion. These are exactly what any employer would want and need if they wanted to test the Facebook recruiting waters. Believe it or not, providing the correct services is not always easy. Many providers get this wrong.
- app is very good: As in, easy enough to use that they’re generating a ton of new registrants via mobile. It is captive at the end of the food chain (i.e., ‘Apply for this job’) to the employer or job board’s mobile solution (or in most cases, non-solution). But BranchOut understands that mobile is the direction that Facebook – and their audience – is heading, and has adjusted accordingly.
I predicted many months ago that ’s Beknown would swamp BranchOut. I was wrong. I suspect that BranchOut will continue to prove many of us wrong – and continue to dominate the employment world on Facebook.
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