There's a new job-hunting fad creeping into Facebook pages. And it looks tacky.
You might have come across a Facebook app called BranchOut. There's also a lesser-known one called BeKnown, created by job site Monster.com. Both are designed to compete with LinkedIn, acting as a tool for job seekers and head hunters to connect through Facebook accounts. Users post their resume, give recommendations and see job postings.
All research points to this being a great new tool to embrace: Facebook is the largest social network, with more than 160 million U.S. users in June, according to Internet research company ComScore. With numbers like that, surely Facebook is efficient for finding a connection for that dream job. (If you were wondering, LinkedIn is No. 2 in the United States, with 33.9 million visitors in June.)
And social media is a must-do for job hunting these days: Some 89 percent of companies plan to recruit through social media this year, with 64 percent saying they actually hired through social networks in 2011, according to a July survey from online recruiting software provider Jobvite.
Problem is, you can unintentionally look like a social media imbecile using a Facebook app like BranchOut or BeKnown. Both apps treat connections like a game, awarding you with meaningless badges and ribbons for sending invites to friends. I was rewarded with being a Diamond Super Connector on BranchOut for doing absolutely nothing, but I was encouraged to level up to Double Diamond Ribbon by adding 15 friends.
That's right, you get points for harassing friends to join an app, polluting their newsfeed and wall with the app logo. (Farmville, anyone? A professional network shouldn't stoop to the same level as a Mafia Wars game for engagement.)
On BeKnown, I checked the option to not post that I joined, yet the app did so anyways, plastering its advertisement on my page. That's a big no-no if you didn't want your coworkers to suspect you are job hunting.
Those that spammed me with requests to join looked like they didn't understand how to use social media. Weren't we already connected on Facebook? So why do you want to connect inside an app? And isn't that what LinkedIn is for?
I won't dismiss BranchOut completely. One redeeming feature is how it presents an easy-to-read breakdown of large companies, and which of my friends once worked there. It also showed the friends-of-friends who could help introduce me. That can be a handy for finding that vital connection.
With headhunters using social media to recruit, don't put off keeping your LinkedIn profile pristine and updated. Last week LinkedIn introduced a new tool to apply for a job using the LinkedIn profile, so expect companies to take advantage of this quick application method.
Because of social media's growing importance for jobs, it's just as important to ensure your personal Facebook profile is protected and private. If you do want to use a Facebook app to find a job, use caution on what information you share, and don't spread the spam to earn points and badges. Your reputation will thank you.
Poked is a column about netiquette and social media. If you have a question or need advice, email bcarey@MiamiHerald.com.
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