Everyone agrees that skill data is important, but how do you get it?
One school of thought is to scrape and scan internal data to figure it out. Once, a senior enterprise software executive told me they collected data by looking at users’ calendars, seeing what they are doing, and the skills being used. I said, “Really? Does that make any sense?” This executive worked for one of the leading HCM players and thought about skill data like any other corporate data -we own it, we control it. I respectfully disagreed.
My perspective is skill data is generated by people telling their on-going story of work accomplishments, their achievements, and the skills they used. This information needs to be owned and controlled by the person and leveraged by the current employer. Standardized skill data that connects to the employer but can be used across employers, gives power to the people. If we had such a standard, the world of work would be a better place, as people could see the value of their skills and better connect to the future. People would feel more hopeful when they have more control.
I spent many years talking about the value of portable skill data that connects to the enterprise. I once described this as a “consumer connected cloud” and got a lot of confused stares. The vision is relatively simple: people are more motivated to create certain types of data when they own it versus when asked to create data and leave it with an employer. I think LinkedIn is a great example of user-generated data and is more up to date than most corporate controlled data sources. How many people have said, “When I want to look up someone at our company, I look them up on LinkedIn.”
LinkedIn is an amazing success story and now an eight-billion-dollar business owned by Microsoft. They proved that user-generated data can support enterprise use cases much better than monolithic enterprise data models. If you are a recruiter and want to send 1,000 job ads to people, you use LinkedIn Recruiter versus your internal databases. After Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, it was a wake-up call for other enterprise vendors that consumer-driven data will enhance new enterprise business processes. However, with all their success, LinkedIn never got the skills thing right. They tried skill endorsements, which was easy to do, but generally rejected as useful to people or employers. While LinkedIn continues to work on new approaches to skill data, their legacy model holds them back and they seem more focused on chasing Facebook. I’m seeing posts about my friends at a concert on LinkedIn, which is not their founding vision.
LinkedIn is a big company with a lot of goals, and I understand the allure of advertising revenue. However, what about the young person trying to understand career skills? How do they view their skills gaps? Can a person compare or follow a job description on LinkedIn, or get updates when skills are changing? No.
I started Talentsky not to compete with LinkedIn, but to focus on doing one thing very well: Making it easy for people to communicate, compare and share standardized skills. To make this happen, we needed to create something as good as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn for users. The platform had to be easy to use and driven by suggestions, like Netflix. Also, we needed to provide a way to connect personal skill data to the employer easily - then disconnect it when the person leaves - then to connect it with the next employer, and so on. All of this was hard to do, but we did it. We are getting our first employers moving now and we are excited to be leading this charge.