James Mayes

Blog: Breaking the mould? The Social CV

In Facebook, LinkedIn, Recruitment, Social Media, Start-ups, Twitter on March 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Yesterday was one of those days where you have one set of ideas for the day and end up with very different outcomes.  I took a more detailed look at three fascinating technology plays being made in the recruitment space – Brave New Talent, Drag & Tag, and The Social CV.  The first two I’ll come back to another time, as there’s more I’d like to learn. The latter though, I want to explore now.

My guide for this technical tour is the brains behind the operation – Bill Fischer.  Any time spent with Bill is always worthwhile. He’s a man who loves to be presented with a problem, who builds technology just to see what can be done and who’s always generous with his time and his knowledge.

The concept behind the Social CV is simple – we talk and share more on-line than ever before. By aggregating and organising that data, recruiters can access a more powerful (and regularly updated) profile than a simple CV will ever allow.  Of course, simple concepts often require incredibly complex solutions – social data is a perfect example of this, due in no small part to the unstructured nature of it.  Bill’s example is the New York Times.  It’s a pretty common phrase to find in people’s profiles – but does it mean they live in New York? Work for the paper? Enjoy the crossword? To make that data usable, answers to these questions and more must be found – and by creating a solution to this problem, Bill now has the understanding to do so much more.

Take a look at the introductory video on the site, it’ll explain the product far better than I can here.  What I want to share here is more around the Talent Rank aspect being built into the product. As any recruiter knows, pulling a list of candidates with keyword and job title searching is simple enough. The Social CV does just that, just using an alternative data source to the typical CV database. One of the universal challenges though, is how to rank those results? Number of keyword mentions? Recency of CV update? Proximity to job location?

Bill’s solution, in part, looks at quality of employer and education.  For example, when hiring an Analyst in the banking world, most would be happy to acknowledge Goldman Sachs as an organisation at the top of it’s game. Likewise, when hiring graduates, certain Universities will stand out.  By building and ranking lists of industry leaders, educational leaders and so on, it’s possible to rank candidates by quality.  There’s a level of assumption here, but by continually adding new data sources to the mix, the quality of the ranking can be improved.  Looking at hiring technology staff? Many of them will be involved in online special-interest groups. If they’re regularly answering questions (and being highly-rated by their peers),  that can influence their Talent Rank score.  That’s smart.

Whilst I’m hugely impressed by what I’ve seen, this approach isn’t without it’s problems. For example, this system works fine if you happen to be in the top 10% of employers, happy to pay a top 10% salary – but if you don’t fit in that bracket, is the system showing you candidates at the top of their game that you’d actually struggle to attract (and remunerate)?

As a concept, I also think it’s a little ahead of the current UK market. In the US, I hear regularly that Facebook profiles (for example) are an acceptable source for finding candidates. In the UK however, I regularly hear HR professionals express the opinion that Facebook data shouldn’t influence a hiring decision. Personally, I’m starting to settle on the idea that this IS the way the market is going, regardless of whether or not we are comfortable with it. The approach therefore should be around educating candidates in general that this data WILL be used. With that in mind, people will be more conscious of what is (and should not) be published.

Finally, I know Bill is looking at wider industry applications for his system. I’ll come back to that at some point soon – but for now, make sure you’re watching the development of this one.  Game changer.


  1. Great post James. We got to have a good look at theSocialCV from Bill a little while back and I was similarly very impressed. I can certainly see it making major inroads into LinkedIn’s “world’s biggest passive candidate database” money making territory. What are your thoughts here?

    I do see what you mean about the TalentRank idea here. My thoughts were for each user / business / team to be able to set their OWN weightings for the ranking possibly. This is of course what they can do within their own ATSs/CRMs (with far more limited datasets to search within though!!). I can guess that this would be technically pretty difficult to achieve however for Bill.

    Interesting times..

    • I agree the Talent Rank needs further customisation – but an agency recruiter may well be hiring for a bank one day and a telco the next – so your proposal wouldn’t suit. On the other hand, your thought would fit well for the Social CV where used by a corporate in-house recruitment team.

      The other challenge I know Bill has is around presentation of CV’s. What makes a perfect CV? As much as anything, it’s down to individual recruiter taste – so some kind of historical A/B compare testing, embedded within each recruiter’s own account might be the answer. But then what happens when the recruiter moves to another firm? That investment in personalizing search returns is most likely lost, left with his original employer. All good juicy problems for Bill to get his teeth into!

      • Maybe pre-set profiles that can be selected from for both weightings/rankings and CV presentation is a way forwards. (carefully honed, optimized, lots of opportunities for user feedback etc..).

        As you say – interesting challenges, and I somehow think he’ll enjoy working through each one of them – he seems to relish a challenge! 🙂

  2. Great post James,

    Yes indeed it is a potential game changer. Social CV’s focus on ‘unstructured’ data is key; every other recruitment solution is organised around the storing, tracking, searching and processing of CV’s – static documents that lose data currency as soon as they are created. Social CV’s ability to track unstructured social data, close to real time, could revolutionize the industry and finally move recruitment away from filing word docs into Outlook – still the predominant way agencies operate.

    I was fortunate enough to interview Bill for my Future Of Recruitment? interview series. The i/v will be published this Weds – check it out for some further detail on this fantastic product.

    Thanks for posting.

    Best wishes


  3. […] the product: The Future of Recruitment? by Wise Man Say Breaking the Mould? by James […]

  4. […] Blog: Breaking the mould? The Social CV (musingsfromsussex.com) […]

  5. […] The product is still in beta mode, so you know you can expect a lot more from these guys. You can read more about The Social CV, click here and here. […]

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