What's Next in finding careers?

Over the past year, the rush to self-tracking seems to have quieted, under a recurring question: “what’s the value of all this data?”

Like many, we were inspired by Ben Thompson’s recent post discussing the historic and future of epochs in technology. Ben’s analysis reminded me of a slide we used in a presentation about a year ago, with vision of a post-social paradigm in which the trend towards self-tracking, rising rapidly in fitness and wearables, could be applied to one’s “professional health”. For us the epochs were: Find the Web, Find People, Find Yourself.

Over the past year, the rush to self-tracking seems to have quieted, under a recurring question: “what’s the value of all this data?” Equally, for Craft, our early research showed that people had very limited interest in tracking the vitals of their career (title, skills, salary, trajectory, benchmarking against others, etc.), at least not as a go-to activity, and especially not on a site no-one had heard of or developed any trust around.

For that reason, we switched our attention to the other half of the work equation - employers; aggregating all the publicly available data we could find on industries, sectors and companies, and providing it, with an attractive presentation layer and some analytical tools, for free to consumers. With 200,000 companies in our system across 19 high-innovation sectors, that is the product we’re excited to be launching into public beta in January 2015.

Related to these major paradigm shifts is the notion of Public versus Private, which Ben at Stratechery has also written about powerfully (see diagram below). We are building a Private-first application in part because it is naturally hard for LinkedIn to play in this area, given LinkedIn is so dominant in the public (i.e. social) segment. It’s hard to do both Public and Private, because, well, that’s kind of like owning everything, and the world seems to resist letting that happen. Google (private search), wanted to do social with Google+, and the public largely said no. Facebook (public sharing) wanted to do private (and did so through acquisition of WhatsApp), but Snapchat continues to go strong.

In the professional world, the notion of Private vs Public is extremely important. Our research has shown that one of the strengths of LinkedIn’s social model (that lots of people see your profile) is also one of its weaknesses. I have been in a situation before where I needed to emphasise 2 completely different sides of my expertise and ambition to different parties, and my LinkedIn profile was an active impediment to that need. Both parties were looking at my profile and drawing conclusions from it, so my only solution was to neuter out a lot of the detail, and leave only the broad strokes. Numerous people we spoke to have had the same problem.

Craft will initially be primarily an information resource. Like a real estate portal where you can go for free, in private and get lots of valuable data on an important decision you are making. But later, we will be adding much deeper functionality and we suspect that the Private quadrant will be the most interesting to explore.

For example, we could ask people to connect their social accounts and allow us to use this data (in complete privacy) to suggest sectors, companies, teams and people that might be a good fit for them. Later we may ask to track details of their specific skills, compensation or other details, all in the knowledge that it will never be shared with anyone else, but where our analytics could reveal valuable insights on how the person can strategically and effectively advance their career.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts, in comments, or @craftdotco, and if you’re curious to hear more, sign up for our beta at Craft.co.