Without Proper Recruiter Search, Monster’s BeKnown Facebook Professional Networking App Lacks Value

Late Saturday, employment website Monster.com launched a professional networking app on Facebook called BeKnown. Users can import work history details from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Monster.com, connect with contacts from these sites, Twitter, or their email, and browse jobs posted by these and their second degree connections.

However, BeKnown does not let recruiters search for job candidates by parameters such as qualifications or work history unless they’re already connected to them. This significantly reduces the service’s value to recruiters, which in turn reduces the value of maintaining a profile on the app to users, as there’s little chance of being passively recruited.

Users may therefore be better off joining a more populated professional network such as LinkedIn or BranchOut, or browsing job boards than having to rebuild their graph on BeKnown.

The social recruiting space has gotten some more attention lately with Facebook app BranchOut securing an $18 million Series B round of funding and briefly topping 200,000 daily active users. Monster is now hoping to offer exposure to Facebook users as part of its service offering to job posting clients by launching BeKnown with support for 35 countries and 19 languages.

Unfortunately, BeKnown is more of a Facebook portal to Monster.com than something truly effective for recruiters or job seekers. Its layout is almost identical to BranchOut’s, but less polished, with its home page displaying prompts to invite friends and endorse connections, a profile completion wizard, and updates from a user’s network. Both services let users can import their LinkedIn profile, though BeKnown also lets users pull profile info from Monster.com.

BeKnown’s job listing database appears to be smaller than BranchOut’s as well. A search for “software engineer” in San Francisco and the nearby area returned 463 listings on BeKnown, but 95 official listings posted to BranchOut and another 1864 listings that BranchOut aggregates through job search service Indeed.

BeKnown’s most useful feature, its “Social Referral Program” which isn’t live yet, will cause a company’s job listings to appear to the friends of every employee of that company. This means recruiters won’t have to direct employees how to repost listings themselves. However, since the referrals to the listings don’t actually come from a user’s friends, they’re less trusted.

The service has a somewhat unique take on endorsements wherein user check boxes to declare a friend has a general skill such as “vision” rather than writing a custom text recommendation. Users can also earn badges, not just for in-app behavior, but for job milestones such as working at one company for five years.

Building Trust, but Not Value

The major missing functionality of BeKnown is actually a conscious choice by Monster. The company has decided not to currently allow recruiters to search the profiles of all the app’s users for people who meet the criteria for certain jobs. This is ability is both crucial to recruiters who need to find candidates outside their network, and to users who want to be eligible for discovery based on their skills by recruiters they’re not connected to. Without this feature, users may as well just browse Monster.com.

Matt Mund, the company’s global VP of product and Tom Chavallier, global product manager, told us the reason this feature was left out was because “we want to make sure we’re building up trust, and are engaging you on your owns terms. You have to treat a network differently than a database.” While this respect for the privacy of users is admirable in concept, it somewhat defeats the purpose of the app.

With BranchOut launching its enterprise recruiting search solution on August 1st to compete with LinkedIn’s Recruiter, and Jobvite offering better options for distributing links to job listings on social networks, BeKnown’s position in the larger social recruiting space seems unclear. The 38.2 million Monster.com users with Facebook accounts may still find BeKnown useful to conduct searches of jobs posted by friends, but it’s the chance to stand out and be discovered for one’s competencies that makes a professional social network more valuable than a job listing site.