“Social layer” vs “Social network”

This afternoon we (Trovix) released Trovix Connect, the new version of our Trovix job portal. (incidentally, we’ve been using that as internal name well before Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect!)

I feel like we’ve kind of jumped on the bandwagon of social sites.  However, I think this is more an example of responding to what people find useful rather than “everyone else is doing this and succeeding and so we’ll do the same”.

During user studies that I run periodically, one question asked is “how did you get your current job?”, followed by “what is your general strategy for finding a new job?”  While I don’t expect to get strictly accurate answers (an ethnographic study is much better for exploring true user activity), it is a nice broad question that reveals a significant amount of information so long as you frame and interpret it appropriately.

What was found is that most people use job boards as a supplemental source of information for finding jobs.  The majority of people (in the demographics we targeted) did not apply directly through advertised positions (such as on Trovix or CareerBuilder), but instead looked on the company’s site afterwards — or tried to find which of their friends had connections with the company and could help out.  I guess this makes sense as to why so many job boards rely on advertising revenue rather than taking a cut from direct applications.

With Trovix Connect, we tried to support this approach to job-seeking.  However, while creating a social network of friends and colleagues works for an ambiguous site like LinkedIn (where it is general career networking), Trovix is primarily a job matching service.  Job-hunting is obviously a fairly private activity, and a lot of the time you don’t want people to even know you have an account on a job site, let alone set up a connection with them.

Therefore we took a slightly different tack, and instead applied a social layer to the site. What this means is you can’t use your contacts in the normal social networking ways (what are my friends up to, what are all their details, how can I interact with them), but instead we track the network and use the information about it to support job seeking.  For example, if you were searching for a “Software Engineer” position in 94043, and you had me in your network, when the “Software Engineer – Trovix” position shows up, Trovix Connect highlights that you know me at Trovix and allows you to contact me about the position.  (Our resume parsing software automatically distills all your previous work experience automatically.)  We give the user an example email to send to their contact working at the company (or if they recently worked there) asking for their help.  In this way, people can use the same strategy for finding jobs as in “the real world”, but with connections they never knew they had.

Of course, privacy is a big deal to us, and you can opt out from appearing in search results.  You can also make your account invisible (in fact, that’s the default option!).  We have several spam-reducing features in place as well.

We really hope this will be a useful new layer to job-searching without being obtrusive or spammy.  If you end up trying it, please let me know what you think – I love to get feedback!

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