Online 'dating service' for tech jobs launched

In today's tech scene, matching professionals to job openings may be more of a mating dance than a business transaction.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Online dating services such as eHarmony and Match.com employ algorithms to match the compatibility of users, and then facilitates a way for them to connect. Now, an online service for tech professionals promises the same compatibility matching with potential employers.

Just waiting for the right one to come along?  IT professionals now may find the right match online. Photo by Michael Krigsman.

Still waiting for the right one? IT professionals now can get a compatibility match with their next employer. Photo by Michael Krigsman.

Now offered in the San Francisco Bay Area -- with plans to roll out to New York and Chicago later this year -- Path.To has launched what it calls the industry's first online job service that includes a unique compatibility score to connect the top talent with the top jobs. The effort is backed by $1.5 million in financing from Adecco, an international staffing company that acquired North American giant Olsten Corporation a few years back.

Path.To says it now features positions from more than 100 Bay Area companies, Including Eventbrite, Evernote, Lytro and Uber. The service exclusively caters to interactive designers, software engineers and IT professionals.

Path.To says currently, its core base is Silicon Valley companies that are in strong need of designers and other top tech talent to support their rapid growth. The service differs from traditional job services in that it offers a "Path.To Score," a ranking system that analyzes the unique characteristics of each applicant, business and position to determine compatibility.

The Score is based on variables such as a user's social graph, tracking their interests on Twitter and Facebook, as well as contributions and reputation on other online professional communities including Behance, Dribbble, Forrst and Github,. This is to capture a better understanding of "an applicant's passion for professionally related topics," the company says.  In addition, the site queries users about what they consider important in their next position: dress code, benefits and corporate culture.  Of course, skills and experience also weigh in heavily as well.

"We are doing for hiring what eHarmony did for online dating," according to Darren Bounds, founder of Path.To.  "We act as an intelligent filter that matches companies to the top talent that is so essential for their growth."

There's actually a dramatic sea change taking place in the job-hunting scene. More job candidates are being hired on the basis of what shows up on their social network pages, versus those one or two sheets of paper that are either emailed or snail-mailed into human resource departments.

The Wall Street Journal’s Rachel Emma Silverman posted a piece on how some companies (albeit new media-ish type firms) prefer to examine a prospect’s social media profile, versus a few bullet points on a terse document.

The manager at one company that refuses résumés explained their rationale to WSJ:

A résumé doesn’t provide much depth about a candidate, says Christina Cacioppo, an associate at Union Square Ventures who blogs about the hiring process on the company’s website and was herself hired after she compiled a profile comprising her personal blog, Twitter feed, LinkedIn profile, and links to social-media sites Delicious and Dopplr, which showed places where she had traveled. “We are most interested in what people are like, what they are like to work with, how they think,” she says.

Along with social network profiles, some companies post games or challenges to winnow out applicants. (The “gamification” of hiring?) In her article, Silverman describes how IGN Entertainment Inc., a gaming and media firm, “posted a series of challenges on its website aimed at gauging candidates’ thought processes. (One challenge: Estimate how many pennies lined side by side would span the Golden Gate Bridge.)”

Most companies have fairly rigid standards for seeking out the best talent, which usually includes educational level achieved, the institution at which it was achieved, grade point averages, and past work history. Some forward-looking tech employers are looking past all those well-worn benchmarks, reports George Anders, author of The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Anyone Else, a newly published book that looks at the recruiting techniques of such fast-forward companies as Google and Facebook. (Excerpt published here in BusinessWeek.)

Anders relates the experience of Facebook, which, starting in its early days in 2006, published “gnarly programming challenges and invite engineers anywhere to solve them, involving “multi-hour tests of coding prowess.” As Facebook engineer Yishan Wong put it: “We developed this theory that occasionally there were these brilliant people out there who hadn’t found their way to Silicon Valley. They might be languishing in ordinary tech jobs. We needed a way to surface them.”

Google, for its part, initially sought out the best and the brightest from top Ivy-league and technology schools. However, the company found that “some of these geniuses weren’t quite as effective as it had hoped,” and worried that it was missing out on true talent. The company’s HR team began making a point of looking at the bottom of candidates’ resumes, where some hidden nuggets of interesting life experiences may pop out.

Now, a range of organizations are turning to non-traditional, or seemingly off-the-wall techniques to attract the talent that best fits their needs, Anders relates:

“A new era of talent hunting has begun. It’s happening not only at high-tech companies such as Facebook, but also at Army bases, ad agencies, investment banks, Hollywood studies, corporate boardrooms, college admissions offices, and even at nanny agencies. In all these fields, experts don’t just sort résumés. They pick people and build teams in a profoundly different way. Traditional measures of past achievement, such as test scores and academic degrees, are losing power, and companies are getting better at looking for those future superstars who deliver many times the value of someone who is merely good.”

Ironically, over the past decade, resume scanning systems have become the norm, and as a result, jobhunters are learning to do a form of “search engine optimization” to get key words up front in all the right places. This mechanized approach may be causing potentially great talent to slip between the cracks. At a time of heightened global competition, the companies that adopt the more innovative approaches to identifying and attracting talent will gain the edge.

Facebook’s problem-solving puzzles are one such off-the-wall approach. Anders reports that by 2010 about 118 of Facebook’s engineers — 20% of its technical workforce — came on board as a result of their ability to solve the company’s online puzzles. It became an “easy, fast, and cheap to evaluate entries automatically.”

Granted, the examples shown here are, again, new-media-ish type companies, not your average widget maker down the street. How prevalent is this trend among mainstream companies?

Most companies still take resumes, but it’s also a sure thing that candidates are also being researched across social media channels. And, as Michele Rafter explains at the Second Act site, there are some interactive techniques that jobhunters should  employ in order to increase their marketability. (I like the term “presume,” short for presentation resume.)

The ideal “presume” could include an online interactive slide presentation (SlideRocket is the platform cited), an infographic (yikes), a video resume, a something still printed — but on something unusual, with lots of eye-popping graphics.

The bottom line is it takes more than a piece of paper to get a job these days. The good part is that your accomplishments and interactions can flourish, they no longer need to be squeezed into a small 8-1/2-by-11-inch box.

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