Five Companies That Are Changing Recruiting


Anyone who works in software is accustomed to getting calls from recruiters. It used to be pretty simple. If you coded in JavaScript, for instance, you’d get calls every time someone in town was looking for a JavaScript developer. What did the recruiter know about you? That you coded in JavaScript, and not much else.

Today recruiting has morphed into something entirely different. The recruiter who calls you may know a great deal about you. New theories and techniques abound for matching a job to the perfect employee, and the recruiter may have insider information—such as the manga sites you visit—that leads her to believe that you’re uniquely suited for that new JavaScript position. Here are some of the companies that are changing the face of recruiting.

1. Gild. Gild mines web activity to build profiles of programmers. It looks for open source code posted by individuals and evaluates it. How elegant is it? How effective? It also looks at how often it’s been adopted by other programmers, and it looks for activity on forums for coders that indicates unusual acumen. Gild employs algorithms that, in classic big data fashion, associate the ability to code well with all kinds of other factors. Some strange things seem to be linked to coding ability; for instance, Vivienne Ming of Gild says that many great coders seem to have an affinity for one particular Japanese manga site.

2. RemarkableHire. RemarkableHire aggregates online activity that indicates people are passionate about technology. It crawls sites such as GitHub and Stack Overflow and evaluates activity there. For instance, how well does the potential candidate seem to know specific languages? RemarkableHire also looks at the number of followers a candidate has and the reputations of the followers.

3. Knack. Not a recruiting firm per se, but another interesting wrinkle in tech hiring today. Knack produces video games that analyze a player’s behavior and then use that analysis to evaluate the suitability of the player for specific jobs. Bain & Company and New York University Medical Center have pilot programs under way using Knack. Knack hopes that as it continues to gather data its appraisals of the job suitability of candidates will become more accurate and it will become a major exchange for matching employees with specific jobs. Knack CEO Guy Halfteck says, “We are trying to level the playing field, and make success less dependent on your resume, what school you attended, or where you grew up. It should be more dependent on your innate abilities.”

4. TalentBin. TalentBin has a database of 500 million social profiles aggregated from sites like Facebook and Google+. It’s even gotten data from the U.S. Patent Database and the PubMed Life Sciences Publication Directory. It offers employers a comprehensive profile of candidates and employs algorithms to search for hard-to-find technical abilities.

5. Entelo. Entelo highlights programmers who are unusually active on job search sites and therefore probably actively looking for new jobs. Sudden bursts of activity on LinkedIn are probably going to get the attention of Entelo’s search algorithms. “We wanted to create something that would be an intermediary between people looking for talent, and the places where the best people hang out,” says Entelo cofounder Jon Bischke.

Social networks provide a vast store of talent, but they aren’t necessarily easy to navigate: participants use pseudonyms and don’t always provide enough information to make their real-life identities obvious. But if Gild and Entelo and their new algorithms have their way, no one is going to be able to hide his or her talent under a bushel for much longer.

Lani Carroll lives in Colorado Springs with her bees, chickens, and horses. She can be found at her Google+ Profile.

Kaggle–the Future of Computing?

When I first read about Kaggle I had to know more. Kaggle is only a few years old, but it’s already one of the most interesting developments in data science in recent years, and one that’s sure to be influential.

Kaggle was founded in 2010 by Anthony Goldbloom. Back in 2008, Goldbloom was working as an intern at The Economist. When he was assigned a story on predictive modeling he was surprised at how many people told him it was difficult to make sense of their data.

Goldbloom taught himself to code and launched Kaggle from his bedroom with a contest: $1000 to whomever could come closest to determining how countries would vote in the Eurovision Song Contest. Then Allstate offered $6000 to anyone who could create an algorithm for calculating bodily-injury payments in certain types of accidents. More companies came up with challenges, and more data experts joined Kaggle.

Now the procedures are well established. A company proposes a problem, and Kaggle users take a shot at it. NASA, MasterCard, Allstate, and Facebook have all posted problems. Compensation has ranged from T-shirts to $250,000. There was a recent competition, posted by Heritage Provider Network, for which the compensation was $3 million. Facebook ran a contest with the prize being a data scientist position at Facebook. For those interested in applying sometime, this was the contest:

This competition tests your text skills on a large dataset from the Stack Exchange sites. The task is to predict the tags (a.k.a. keywords, topics, summaries), given only the question text and its title. The dataset contains content from disparate stack exchange sites, containing a mix of both technical and non-technical questions.

Kaggle has over 100,000 data-scientist users, and it’s a fairly exclusive group. Kaggle users come from all over the world, and what they have in common is their advanced degrees—over 80% of the top performers have master’s degrees, and 35% have Ph.D.’s. Kaggle has forums that give these rarified intellectuals opportunities to work together and exchange ideas.

To make Kaggle even more interesting—and even more of a challenge to traditional ways of working—it’s just introduced a new service, Kaggle Connect. Through Kaggle Connect, employers can hire data scientists for specific projects from among Kaggle’s top 500 participants. A very interesting employment model—companies now have access to proven top talent from around the world. Kaggle charges a subscription fee, then matches a data scientist to the company based on expertise. Kaggle provides a set of tool it calls Workbench, which takes raw datasets and turns them into instantly usable ones.

Employers such as American Express and the New York Times have begun listing a Kaggle score as a qualification in their data scientist help wanted ads. This may be indicative of a new trend: valuing actual skills rather than “paper” skills. Is this the brave new labor market, where expertise is measurable and really makes a difference?

Lani Carroll lives in Colorado Springs with her bees, chickens, and horses. She can be found at her Google+ Profile.



IT Careers That Will Stand the Test of Time

It certainly isn’t a pleasant memory. Tech had been riding high for years. Fears about the millennium bug meant that any programmer with a pulse could find employment. Most programmers with a pulse, however, weren’t looking for work—they were probably already employed at an improbable salary by some high-flying tech company.
Then it all fell apart. There were no computer problems with the date rollover to 2000, and all the programmers hired to take care of Y2K problems were suddenly superfluous. Many of high-flying tech companies crashed. Outsourcing became popular. Jobs that had seemed entirely stable simply vaporized. Corporations that seemed entirely stable simply vaporized. The US software industry lost 16% of its jobs between March 2001 and March 2004 .
Tech is one of the few bright spots in the economy today, but we live in a world where it’s difficult to feel secure about the economic future, especially when memories of the 2000 dot-com crash are so fresh. And unnervingly, most experts agree that the world economy is undergoing a fundamental sea change. It’s difficult to predict how much, and in just what ways, it will be transformed over the course of the next couple of decades. An article in Forbes posits that traditional employment is an outdated concept and that jobs as we know them are going to soon almost disappear.
IT seems to be in a better position than many career fields to weather the storms. IT jobs are becoming more and more portable. IT specialists work remotely all over the world without leaving their kitchens, and being able to work anywhere represents lots of opportunity. And IT is still one of the drivers of innovation. Clouds, iPhones, and Big Data today, and who knows what’s coming next?
These might be some of the best IT careers for tomorrow’s IT experts:
1. Business architecture. One aspect of IT that seems destined to flourish in the future is integrating IT with the business needs of companies. Business architects help determine what business systems will most benefit from IT, and just what kind IT applications will be most suitable. A business architect should have deep knowledge both of business processes and technology.
2. Analytics. Everyone’s drowning in data, and surprisingly enough all that data might be useful. Slice and dice it just right, and it could actually provide very useful consumer information, the kind of information businesses are dying to have. The advisory firm Gartner predicts that there will be 4.4 million Big Data jobs by 2015, and that because of a lack of qualified people only one-third of the jobs will be filled.
3. Project management. This old-fashioned career continues to prosper. IT projects can be incredibly complex, and the demand for skilled project managers grows every year. Project management is becoming better defined—it used to be a job that many people more or less fell into, but now more and more companies demand certification.
4. Consulting. What could better typify the trend toward non-traditional employment than consulting? Jobs that last only the life of a project are obviously more economical for an employer, and consulting seems very likely to continue to grow. And it can provide lots of benefits for the consultant. An opportunity to travel, a chance to work in many industries, good money—for anyone who’s ready to embrace an independent career path, this could be the way to go.

Lani Carroll lives in Colorado Springs with her bees, chickens, and horses. She can be found at her Google+ Profile.

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