HR Technology, Recruiting and Staffing

Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend? CareerBuilder & BranchOut to Take On Monster’s BeKnown

HR-TECH

They say politics makes for strange bedfellows. Maybe the same could be said for competition?

Monday at the annual HR Technology conference in Las Vegas, CareerBuilder announced a partnership with BranchOut, one of the leading professional networking services on Facebook. The move brings a bigger audience to BranchOut’s Facebook app as it continues its competition with Monster’s BeKnown application for the hearts and minds of Facebook users.

Several weeks ago, HR Examiner’s John Sumser observed that average monthly users of Monster’s BeKnown surpassed that of BranchOut for the first time. The gap as of this morning had significantly widened from that number to 2,745,424 BeKnown average monthly users to 1,138,009 for BranchOut. Will this development help close that gap?

Bringing CareerBuilder to Facebook

The HR Technology Conference always brings out a bevy of product announcements, but this is an interesting development in the world of job boards going social. In their announcement, CareerBuilder presented internal research that said 40 percent of workers who are looking for jobs said they research companies that interest them on Facebook before applying to a position, 21 percent use Facebook to contact friends about job opportunities, and 29 percent of employers reported they use social media to recruit potential job candidates.

More than anything though, it is a way to do an end run around not just Monster but also LinkedIn, whose moves as of late have signaled increased activity in the employment advertising space. All while leveraging Facebook’s large network and BranchOut’s existing social technology.

In talking with both CareerBuilder and BranchOut today, there was excitement about the possibilities of working together. CareerBuilder is attracted by BranchOut’s care and understanding of the social layer of their app. BranchOut was attracted by adding more social capabilities to CareerBuilder’s large slew of jobs and users.

The integration won’t be released right away (there is no hard date set) but it looks as though it will be a click to figure out who you’re connected with at the company you are applying for (assuming that you have a BranchOut account, of course).

As far as future plans for the partnership, CareerBuilder Chief Development Officer Hope Gurion said, “We’ll follow the market and let users determine where we go next.”

Both CareerBuilder and BranchOut expressed confusion over the direction Monster was going with their BeKnown application. “We feel like they are buying users,” Gurion said.

Some of the struggles for both Facebook applications is continuing to engage users after the initial signup and upload of information. As we saw with LinkedIn, it can be solved through content which BranchOut says they are continuing to work on. As competition heats up, it will be interesting to see how many non-recruiting functions they add to keep the happily employed (or the elusive passive candidate) engaged beyond signup.

Monster reaction

While unsure about what the partnership means, Janet Swaysland, SVP of Global Communications & Social Media at Monster said, “What we do know is that Monster and Facebook are working closely to bring the best professional networking experiences and tools to 800 million people on Facebook, leveraging the strengths of two global leaders.”

ERE’s John Zappe reported last week about that integration as well as mobile apps that Monster released:

Last week, at Facebook’s f8 developers conference, Monster said it was tightening the integration between its BeKnown networking app, and Facebook, on which it built the professional network. The enhancements will make it easy for BeKnown members who update their business profile to add those updates to their more social Facebook profile.

In the weeks before, Monster released smartphone apps for the iPhone and Android devices, allowing members to update their BeKnown profiles, send messages, make connections and, naturally, search Monster for jobs.

The advantage at this point appears to be Monster’s, at least until we see how deep BranchOut and CareerBuilder delve into partnership not only between them but between the application and Facebook.

Whether this development will help shift the tables yet again for Facebook-based business and job networking is anyone’s guess though. The integrations that BranchOut can achieve with Facebook, and the engaged users CareerBuilder could possibly deliver, could have a major impact on where this story ends up six months from now.

Editor’s note: In the original version of this piece, we stated average monthly Facebook users as installs. This is incorrect and we have corrected it where appropriate.

Lance Haun is an editor at The Starr Conspiracy, a marketing agency focused on the enterprise HCM market. He spent three years as an editor at ERE Media and seven years in the recruiting and HR trenches before joining the agency. You can follow him on Twitter, circle him on Google+, check out his blog or contact him directly at lance@coug.rs.