An idea I’ve been pushing for a while
February 19, 2011, 12:26 am
Filed under: Ideas

Google recommends websites; Netflix recommends movies; Amazon recommends books; Pandora recommends music; eHarmony recommends life partners. These recommendations are based on preferences both stated and revealed, tons of data, mined, recombined, and made more useful for our benefit.

Please, oh please, can’t someone start recommending jobs?

Today’s job sites are founded on inaccurate assumptions.

  1. Their classification schemes are increasingly outdated and irrelevant except for professional designations (e.g. lawyer, doctor).
  2. Their service is based on advertising open positions, but many positions are filled (and more could be filled) on the basis of targeted solicitation rather than the advertise-and-apply model.
  3. The best candidates may not be actively looking for a job.
  4. We do not in fact have the time or patience to filter through a bajillion search results.

Here is a list of what I would like to see in a job site:

  1. Use our past histories and those of people like us — including where we’ve worked previously, what postings we’ve clicked on and applied to, and what companies we’ve “followed” on LinkedIn or similar (and maybe what books we read for non-fiction geeks?)
  2. Use surveys such as those from What Color is Your Parachute to recommend positions on the basis of interests and aptitudes
  3. Add extra information such as feedback from current and past employees, OSHA data on industry and company health and safety records, and data from, say, socially responsible investment research firms to give a sense of not just the position but the culture and mission of the organization [because my generation wants meaningful work, yo] and the quality of life of the geographic location and expected salary ranges
  4. Maintain ongoing accounts with individuals so that not only active searchers but happy employees can be alerted to recommended positions
  5. Recommend companies that match — even if they don’t have current openings posted

Certainly, some sites have pioneered aspects of the above. Vault solicits and makes available feedback from current and past employees. NotchUp and Dice have sought to maintain ongoing relationships (through two very different models), so that passive job searchers are also tied into the network. LinkedIn gathers an extensive history of personal experience, social and professional connections, and professional interests, and it allows you to “follow” particular companies and people. CareerPath (a division of CareerBuilder) offers career tests. And Career Builder seems to use personal search and application history as a basis for recommendations. But no one seems to be putting this all together.

And that makes me sad.

But, as long as we’re thinking big, I’d like to request also that the site eventually expand to include recommendations of coursework as well. Both continuing education nearby that would build skills you’re noticing you’d like to have (could track a comparison of skills you list as having and skills required in the postings you’re looking at) and grad school programs. [ isn’t very useful.] Take in information on what professors are researching, add some more datapoints to the interest questionnaire, and throw in the results of research on school ratings. Take the pain out of requesting and sending transcripts and test scores.

And make it all interesting and useful enough that people actually update their data. Or get companies to fill in data for you. Another premium service module that could be added is HR reviews. It’d benefit the site because companies would help you maintain updated information; it’d benefit job seekers because they could provide access to their past reviews as evidence of good work (instead of having to request references, preserving review history much like university transcripts or credit reports); and it’d benefit companies in the same way that any outsourced review platform benefits companies (i.e. they don’t have to develop it in-house).

The economic model for this complex, modular job site would have to be worked out, but you have several options in this network business. Job seekers can pay, at least for premium services such as access to employee comments and third-party research. Companies and recruiters can also pay to get access to information on the job market generally (e.g. how many people are looking for engineering jobs in Atlanta?), on possible candidates (whether actively seeking jobs or not), and on company-specific statistics (e.g. how many employees at my company were looking for other jobs over the last six months?).

I have, of course, emailed several job and related sites with these unsolicited recommendations. None of them has responded, directly or by offering better services. I’m not asking for millions of dollars; I just want an easier way to find a job and/or PhD program. And I’m not getting any younger.


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[…] have better tools for finding jobs? I’ve far more questions than answers. [Though I have some suggestions on the last question.] But I will say that I think the French have some pretty good ideas, including focusing on being […]

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