BranchOut Interview with Alison Hillman – original post by Career Sherpa

Special thanks to Hannah Morgan at Career Sherpa who generously shared this awesome post on BranchOut that she wrote in 2/28/2012: 

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Alison Hillman and Mike Del Ponte of BranchOut and learned more about this helpful Facebook application. There are so many people who have built large networks on Facebook (I’m thinking specifically of recent college graduates, but anyone with more than 100 friends is included) and could benefit from tapping into their personal connections to help them find employment. It is yet another tool to help you nurture relationships.

Ali graciously accepted my invitation for an interview to help enlighten readers of the benefits and successes of BranchOut! Enjoy learning more about how BranchOut can help your job search.

BranchOut has been in the news quite a bit lately. Forbes reported that BranchOut now has 3.4 million monthly active users. For those who don’t know about it yet, what are the top reasons someone should be using the BranchOut app on Facebook?

It’s been really exciting, it kind of feels like I am on a winning sports team! If you are looking for a job, a networking opportunity or a sales lead, BranchOut is your one-stop-shop. BranchOut automatically turns your Facebook network (friends and friends-of-friends) into professional connections. This means you can see who you know at the companies you want to work for or network with to get a warm introduction. We also have the largest job board on Facebook.

On BranchOut, you create a professional profile so you have an online presence that you can point professional contacts to when looking for a job or networking. Your BranchOut profile does not include any personal information; our use of limited information keeps your private life on Facebook and your professional profile on BranchOut.

If you are a recruiter, you have a lot to look forward to! BranchOut is offering recruiting solutions that are bridging the gap between passive and active candidates with companies looking to hire by offering the most innovative social recruitment solutions on Facebook. The numbers say it all, BranchOut lets recruiters tap into 3.4+ million professionals on Facebook.

Hannah: What are some ways you’ve heard job seekers use BranchOut to get the attention of people and/or companies that have openings?

Ali: As a Community Manager, I have the pleasure of being the first to learn how BranchOut users leverage their professional presence to find new jobs. I hear all kinds of creative stories from all kinds of users (students, veterans to C-class executives). My favorite BranchOut success story is my own! In fact, around 30% of internal BranchOut employees are BranchOut success stories.

I met Kai Fortney and Rebecca Meissner at a networking event in San Francisco. Despite having a great conversation about an open Community Manager role, I observed that they spoke with a LOT of people that evening and from the looks of it, they had a LOT of great conversations. Rather than email Kai my resume in the same slightly generic way that I assumed most people he met that evening would, I looked on BranchOut to see if we knew anyone in common that could professionally introduce me to Kai and lend me creditability. I made sure that I updated my BranchOut profile’s picture; content and even asked for endorsements from past colleagues who could attest why I was a great employee. I even went so far as to update my twitter to include my BranchOut Vanity URL in my bio.

Turns out the old saying is true, birds of a feather really do flock together! Kai and I had a few professional contacts in common. Once introduced to Kai through a mutual connection, I messaged him and set up time to chat. The rest is history. Without having a mutual connection with Kai, I would not have been able to get the inside connection and my email would have gone into a black hole.

Hannah: You know BranchOut better than almost anyone. What are some of your favorite features for job seekers?
Ali: This is a hard one; I have lots of favorite features to choose from! On BranchOut’s CareerConnect, companies can post jobs onto their Facebook page so that fans can see open listings and even share the listings with their friends and colleagues who might be great fits. Potential applicants can see who they know at companies to get the inside introduction. We are all about friends helping friends find great jobs.
My favorite part about CareerConnect is the ability for companies to show off their company culture via video, Twitter etc. right on their Facebook page so that applicants can get a sneak peak as to what it’s like to work at the company.

Hannah: I am sure you get testimonials a lot. What has been your favorite job seeker success story?
Ali: I recently heard a very heartwarming story about a BranchOut early adopter who had been in and out of the hospital due to a disability that prevented him from finding work and keeping a steady job. He went back to school in hopes that another degree would help him find a job. While in school, he became friendly with a woman whose daughter was also on BranchOut. She worked at a very reputable Internet company and his friend recommended that they connect about a possible opening at the company. They chatted and she felt he would be a great fit and internally recommended him for the role.
Aside from having the skillset and qualifications to be very successful, getting the inside connection was a huge factor for him to be considered. He is now working from home and loving his new job!

Guest Post by Allison Hillman, Community Manager, BranchOut
After graduating UC Davis with a BA in American Studies (think: sociology of American culture), I started my career at where I became fueled by ideas about why certain trends evolve, become talked about and then turn into the way we make our social and spending decisions. I have an affinity for social media and how it intersects with creative problem solving to create effective solutions. After Yelp, I led Levi’s Shape What’s to Come social media campaign as the division’s Community Manager. Today, I am BranchOut’s Community Manager and couldn’t be any happier working for the most innovative, fastest growing and largest professional network on Facebook. If you haven’t checked BranchOut out yet, please join us today!!