The idea for Branchout started just a few months ago, when one of Rick’s friends asked to be introduced into someone at a specific company for a career discussion. Rick first checked his Linkedin network - but was unsuccessful in finding a contact he was closely connected to on Linkedin. However, Rick makes much greater use of Facebook, maybe because his business is aligned with Facebook. When Rick searched Facebook, he was only able to find the target company’s fan page. This formed the idea of utilizing Facebook to find (and leverage) friends for job search, similar to Linkedin - the central concept behind Branchout.
How To Use Branchout In Your Search:
- Build your network: The typical user of Branchout will already have a number of friends on Facebook, so there shouldn’t be much to do here. If your network is still small, use Facebook’s tools to invite friends from your email contacts on Outlook, Gmail or other email providers. Those steps should give you a large enough network to start.
- Install Branchout: Go to http://branchout.com and install the application to your Facebook page.
- Invite your Facebook friends to Branchout: You can only see the 2nd degree connections (the friends of your friends) of your friends who have installed the application. Your friends who keep things pretty tight to the vest may have to adjust privacy settings to allow Branchout to display 2nd degree connections. Therefore, more of your friends who also install Branchout, the more companies you’ll see inside connections.
- Search for company contacts: Go to the Branchout application, and enter your target company name. You’ll see a listing of your friends that work at that company, and your friends who know others who who work at your target company (and the number of people they know there). Finally, you can search your friend’s contacts to get specific names, research backgrounds and ask for introductions to insiders at your target companies. Facebook’s privacy concerns make directly sharing this information impossible.
- Share jobs: Pay it forward - share jobs that you see with your network with the free job posting service.
- What do you do after you’ve been introduced? I’ve written much about the right (and wrong) ways to contact company insiders for maximum effectiveness:
- Clean up your Facebook profile: If you’re using Facebook for job search, create a more professional profile, take down the bra & abs pictures and photographic records of drunken college parties. Most job networking contacts really don’t need to see your table dancing skills. Learn how to make your profile more findable by skillset by managing your social brand on Facebook at http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/job-seekers-20-ways-to-brand-yourself.html.
- Don’t waste their time: Don’t waste your new contacts time by asking who to send resumes to, what jobs are open, or if they can pass a resume along (due to employee referral bonus programs, it goes straight to the HR database at most companies - see http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/05/how-employee-referral-bonus-programs.html). You can do all this on the company’s website - wasting your new contact’s time with this under utilizes their effectiveness. You can do much better by having a conversation and picking their brains a bit.
- Discover company goals and problems: Have a conversation with insiders to understand what are the pressing goals and issues the company is facing, who the department heads and managers are, who are the newly hired (and newly fired) managers and to get an idea of company culture. I did an extensive article about how to use Linkedin for the same purpose - you can apply these tactics to Branchout by reading http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/04/linkedin-company-follow-helps-job.html.
- Revise your resume and show how you’ve helped solve these problems: It’s not just an introduction that gets the job - your contacts can do you a much greater favor by allowing you to learn what the real “hot buttons” are. Customize your resume to hit those hot buttons and show the hiring manager why you’re way ahead of the minimum qualifications. Learn more about how to customize to show that you’ve already solved problems at http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/03/job-seekers-tell-your-readers-wift.html.
- Send your customized resume to the hiring manager: Better yet, send it to the hiring manager and to your inside contact. Let your inside contact also send your resume through the internal referral process, so they are eligible for an employee referral bonus. Not only is that a great thank you for their help, but your contact has an incentive to be your internal champion.
Branchout has emerged as an essential job networking tool for the non-Linkedin set, as well as an additional tool to be used in parallel with Linkedin. Easier to use than Linkedin, Branchout allows job seekers to draw on the connections of personal networks ... not just the business networks of Linkedin. It’s easy to set up, and users likely already have a strong Facebook network to draw upon, so there’s less need to build a network from scratch.
I’m excited to see how Branchout can help job seekers. Readers - do you see uses and benefits that I haven’t mentioned? Please share in comments below.
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