BranchOut Launches Facebook Recruiter Search Service to Compete With LinkedIn

Professional networking Facebook app developer BranchOut has launched RecruiterConnect, a powerful enterprise software-as-a-service that lets recruiters search Facebook for job candidates. Recruiters can search by job title, location and more. Search results include the friends of any of the millions of users who’ve installed BranchOut, giving recruiters access to a significant portion of Facebook’s user base, especially those in the US.

RecruiterConnect could become a serious competitor, or at least a strong complement to LinkedIn Recruiter, the standalone professional network’s enterprise search tool. BranchOut offers a price tag of $300 a month per seat, less than half of LinkedIn’s cost. Its database also includes blue collar workers such as store managers and cashiers that large brands are always looking for, to contrast with LinkedIn’s more white collar core user base. BranchOut founder and CEO Rick Marini tells me his company purposefully waited 15 months since the launch of its user-facing professional networking app to release RecruiterConnect because it wanted to build up a valuable database. Thanks to Facebook extended permissions, each time a user installs the app, BranchOut pulls the name, location, education and work history of all their friends. Now recruiters can pay for access to this enormous cache of data, which includes users that might be good candidates but never would have signed up for a professional network themselves.

RecruiterConnect Offers Comprehensive Search

With RecruiterConnect, candidates can be searched for or filtered by keyword, company name, location, job title, and connection to the recruiter. Results will include a recruiter’s friends, friends of friends, BranchOut connections, as well as the first and second degree connections of all BranchOut users. Potential candidates in the first group can be contacted directly through RecruiterConnect. Friends of BranchOut users must be contacted indirectly through the introduction system and a gatekeeper – someone who is both friends, friends of friends, or a BranchOut connection of the candidate and the recruiter. By buying additional seats on a RecruiterConnect license, recruiters can pool in the first and second degree contacts of fellow recruiters or employees at their company. This lets them expand the number of people they can contact directly. If a recruiter is friends or friends of friends with a candidate, they can contact them via Facebook Message, otherwise they use BranchOut’s internal messaging service that triggers email notifications for recipients.

Other features include the ability to add private notes to a candidate’s profile, view similar people to the currently viewed user, and add candidates to folders. If clients are running job listings on BranchOut, they receive suggestions for candidates that meet the job’s requirements. The company is working on a “clone” tool that allows recruiters to select a current employee and receive suggestions of people very similar to them, which can be used to build teams or replace employees. BranchOut now has 15 to 20 recruiter clients using RecruiterConnect. For example, Bay Area startup recruiters could execute a highly refined search for “software engineers”, that went to Stanford, worked at Google, and live within a 50 mile radius of San Francisco. Marini tells me only high quality recruiters will be granted licenses to keep the service’s users from being spammed.

Facebook Implements Barriers to BranchOut Competitors

BranchOut hit its peak user count of 252,000 daily active users and 3 million monthly active users over the summer thanks to users sending wall posts to friends to invite them to the app. This was before Facebook began restricting how apps could use wall posts and began delivering invites through the Requests and notifications channels rather than the more viral publicly visible wall. While BranchOut has since declined to 30,00 DAU according to AppData, Marini tells me that “these changes put a moat around BranchOut. It’s harder to be viral now.” By that he means that potential competitors such as Monster’s BeKnown might not be able to build as big a recruiter database as BranchOut has, so they won’t be able to release a search tool as strong as RecruiterConnect. Similarly, f8’s Ticker and Open Graph protocol provide exposure to apps that let users read, watch, or listen, but “companies that are more service or utility-oriented have it tougher.” Marini continues, explaining that BranchOut’s relatively infrequent posts are even making it out of the Ticker and into the news feed. “We didn’t know which way the new viral channels would effect us, but we came out net positive. It’s kind of scary when Facebook makes big changes.” Now, unless a competitor comes in with a massive marketing budget or Facebook again changes its viral channels, Facebook professional networking or at least recruiter search could become a winner-takes-all scenario with BranchOut at the top.

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