What if your Klout score — that controversial measure of your “influence” on social networks — determined whether you got a job? What if hiring managers combed through online data metrics trying to determine your work ethic? What if you needed a certain score on the job market equivalent of your SATs to even be considered for a new position?
Reppify — a startup based in San Francisco — provides an online dashboard for recruiters and HR departments that seeks to make this a reality. The company pulls data not only from LinkedIn’s business-centric social network, but also from Facebook, Twitter, and even GitHub profiles, building what it calls a “job fit score.” A hiring manager might need a new Java developer, and Reppify will look across a candidate’s resume and connections to build scores for “reputation,” “influence,” “footprint,” and “overall candidacy” — all based on parameters set by the hiring manager himself.
Hiring managers may appreciate the service. But for job seekers, it could be a disturbing thought — not only because they’re being judged by a web application, but because the service is pooling information about them from so many different sources. In a conversation with Wired, Reppify CEO Chirag Nangia downplayed the importance of the metrics, saying he sees this data as only “part of the hiring process.” And he pointed out that Reppify only shares private information about you with its clients if you give Reppify permission. But the app toes the line of what federal regulations allow.
Even if you haven’t signed up with Reppify, the company will grab the email address and employment history you’ve provided to a potential employer and match it with public data pulled from the web. This includes data that turns up after a Google search, as well as anything it can glean from a social network without a “friend-level” connection to you. Using this data, the Reppify engine will then generate initial scores that rate your value.
Reppify then notifies you via email that an employer has asked about you and gives you the option of bolstering your score by giving Reppify access to more social network information. If you don’t want to share any information — i.e you want to opt-out all together — you must shut off public access to your personal information across all social sites. Reppify’s dashboard will then tell the employer that it’s unable to collect any information on you.
Tena Friery, a research director at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a consumer rights advocacy group, says this is what happens if you post information to a social network. “If people don’t set privacy settings [in their social networks], they are in a way consenting to have their information out there,” she says. But she adds that services like Reppify may or may not run afoul of the Fair Credit Act.
“The line is that the employer can Google search all they want, but once they hire a third party, they run a risk of running afoul of the Fair Credit Reporting,” Friery says.
Another San Francisco startup, Identified, offers a similar tool for both HR departments and job seekers that pulls data solely from Facebook. Examining the college you attended, your accomplishments, and network of friends, Identified assigns you a one to 100 ranking when you’re vying for a job or even looking for a job. If you want to be a tech journalist in New York, you — and your prospective employers — can see how your resume stacks up against other journalists in the general hiring pool.
But Identified sees itself more as a resume improvement tool. “If you went to a community college, your candidacy won’t be as attractive as a 4.0 from Harvard. That’s just reality. We can’t change that,” CEO Brendan Wallace told Wired. “But it doesn’t mean you can’t become what you want to be. You just have to know what you need to do to get there.”
The tool mines Facebook, Wallace says, because Facebook provides more-comprehensive demographic data than the job network on LinkedIn, which is used mostly by older professionals. But a spokesperson for LinkedIn challenges this characterization, saying that students and recent graduates make up the fastest growing demographic on the site.
BranchOut, a company that claims to operate the largest job board on Facebook, offers another tool that mines data from the world’s largest social network on behalf of recruiters. As long as privacy settings allow it — and by default, they do — recruiters can use BranchOut to search a Facebook user’s network according to job-specific criteria — just as one might on LinkedIn. Echoing Wallace, BranchOut director of enterprise products Rebecca Meissner says the company uses Facebook because LinkedIn doesn’t offer as much data.
“LinkedIn is kinda like Wall Street,” she told Wired. BranchOut, she said, is more like “Main Street.”
Meissner said that the company looked at candidate scoring, a la Reppify and Identified, but eventually decided this wasn’t necessary. LinkedIn agrees. “We’re trying to provide very context-specific results, so we’re hesitant to give someone an absolute score,” Parker Barrile, LinkedIn’s head of hiring solutions products, told Wired.
He noted that any ranking algorithm contains a score, but this isn’t something that gets shared with recruiters or candidates. “We want people to utilize LinkedIn for reasons other than trying to achieve a higher score,” he said.
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