LinkedIn has come up with a new way to make use of the huge amount of information we’re putting into social media sites, demonstrating the kind of application that wouldn’t be possible before social media sites made it so easy to capture information. It’s a tool aimed at college students which provides them with insights to help them plan their careers, by mining data from the profiles of people who work in their chosen field. It uses this data to provide an insight into how people have built careers in that field.
The data-driven approach allows insights that you couldn’t get without a large repository of career histories. In the world before LinkedIn, it wouldn’t have been feasible to mine the data from CV documents in widely varying formats. It will almost certainly throw up some unexpected ways to get to where you want. It will also suggest people in a students’ network who may be able to help them, apparently.
I can think of some obvious limitations. In emergent fields, for instance, how people got a job in the past might not be a good guide to how to get a job today. And I can see a danger that people in small but desirable fields (media, film, tv?) might get enough requests for help to get seriously annoyed. Although it’s likely that’s already true. I also don’t see it changing access to the best jobs – when you’re still a student, it’s likely that a lot of the contacts who can help you will be your parents’ friends, so the well-connected will still have an advantage.
It’s always intriguing to see this kind of application, though, as firms start to make use of the huge amount of data available in social networks that simply was not available before social media sites started. Balancing the usual privacy concerns, this shows an example of how that data can be mined for huge benefit.