Facebook truly seems to be the network that likes to compete. First the takeover of MySpace, then the Twitter-like change to the homepage, then the purchase of Instagram to compete with Pinterest, and now BranchOut—LinkedIn’s new nemesis. This professional networking platform was actually launched in July, 2010 and has quietly been gaining speed ever since. Today, BranchOut has 25 million users with a rate of 3 new users per second. Although this number sounds great, I could help but think to myself: But LinkedIn still has 131,200,000 users, so what’s all the buzz about?

As it turns out, the answer is quite clear: It took LinkedIn 65 months to reach the level that BranchOut has now achieved in a mere 16 months.

How BranchOut Works and How to Get Started

Although people were reluctant to connect professional matters with the very personal matters of Facebook, BranchOut only shows education and work history. You can also connect with someone on BranchOut without becoming Facebook friends, which adds an extra level of privacy for the skeptic. You can get started with BranchOut by either accepting an invitation from another BranchOut user, or typing BranchOut.com into the Facebook search box. Once the app is installed, it will prompt you to grow your BranchOut network. Below is an example of when I was asked to include my friends in my new BranchOut network:

Once you click “include them,” your friends will get a request asking if they would like to join your community. Getting started is as easy as that. You are then brought to your profile page where you can import a resume, look through all of your connections and search for new connections, and check out your endorsements. Below is a screenshot of my profile page:

My profile is fairly empty right now, but the idea is there. You can see that I still need to improve my resume and flesh out my work history. However, Facebook took my work history information from my profile and went ahead and added it to my BranchOut profile. This makes creating a profile very easy and quick for those who have a fairly detailed Facebook account.

You will also notice that there is a tab at the top of the screen titled “jobs.” This is where I can go and type in a job that I’m looking to find. Below is an example of a search I did for the job “social media manager” that turned up three results:

If you were to continue scrolling down the page, you would see that you could filter results based on your experience, a specific industry, and whether or not you’re looking for full time, part, time, internship, etc. Although I am a new user, I can already tell that this application is intuitive and easy to use (which is something I can’t say about all the features of Facebook).

The Benefits for BranchOut vs. LinkedIn

Having a presence on both social networks will help you expand our circles to the fullest. Certain employers may use one over the other, so a candidate will want to be prepared on both platforms in order to find the maximum number of relevant job listings. As long as you can stay active and can maintain both profiles, employers will be happy to see that you are social media fluent.

Saying that BranchOut is better than LinkedIn would be incorrect, but there are a few things that make BranchOut different and a few extra benefits that the application can offer:

  • Facebook is larger. Most people sign up for a LinkedIn account and have to try and sync it up with an email address to find connections. With Facebook, you can find a huge pool of connections with the click of one button.
  • The connections are broader. The connections you will make on BranchOut are much broader than those you would make on LinkedIn. Many of your friends may not be on LinkedIn, but chances are they are on Facebook. This helps make your connections more personal.
  • It’s easy to get started for those intimidated by LinkedIn. Young graduates are more likely to get started with BranchOut over LinkedIn because they already have a Facebook account. For this reason, there is a good chance BranchOut will be the next big thing.

In terms of features, both sites are very similar—search functionality for jobs, filters, finding connections, promoting content, etc.—so I believe it is really a matter of preference. If you have a large following on Facebook, BranchOut is worth setting up. If Facebook was never really your network of choice, sticking with LinkedIn only is still a great way to grow your personal brand. As long as you can make at least one work, you’ll be in a good position when it comes time to find a job.

Are you active on BranchOut? What have been your experiences? Let us know in the comments!

Photo Credit: recruiter.com

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to employment background checks. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including recruitment to small businesses and entrepreneurs for a lead generation website, Resource Nation.