Monday, November 09, 2015

Looking for an inclusive, AI, real-time job?

Interesting article on Bloomberg last week on what’s in and out in the tech recruiting biz.

Textio – a Seattle startup with a snappy motto: words + data = magic – uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyze text to see, when it comes to the written word, just what matters. They started out by looking at which Kickstarter projects got funded, and much of it came down to “the words used in the listing, the fonts that were chosen, how the images got placed, and how many verbs were included. In fact, the specific project idea was mostly irrelevant to its funding outcome.”

I find it pretty shocking that the “specific project idea” was of no importance. Who’d want to kickstart something if they don’t know what it is? Not me. I’ve thrown a few bucks into Kickstarter projects over the year. Once for tee-shirts – they were pretty nice – that are made in the USA, and another for the secret decoder ring that doubles as a T-pass. (Alas, you can’t get the senior discount rate on the decoder ring, so I’ve more or less retired mine.) Wonder what the magic verbs and fonts were that got me to spring for these “investments”?

Anyway, I’ll take their word for it…

Having tested their concept by analyzing Kickstarter, Textio decided to productize/monetize – how’s that for buzzword use? - their technology by coming up with an app (ditto). For starters, they’ve got a product that helps you perfect your job listings to see how well they’ll perform.

Will it be popular among qualified job seekers? Will the role fill quickly? How gender-biased is your listing? Our predictive models give you analytics and feedback right as you’re typing. (Source: Textio website)

And to raise awareness and interest – it worked for Pink Slip – Textio:

…tracked more than 50,000 unique phrases commonly seen in tech job listings, said Kieran Snyder, the company’s chief executive officer. The startup compiled a list of terms that experienced the biggest changes in impact, positively and negatively, over the last year. Among the five biggest losers, none were turn-offs to job candidates in 2014, which shows how fast the industry changes. (Source: Bloomberg)

The buzzwords that are running on empty this year:

  • Big data
  • Virtual team
  • Troubleshooting
  • Subject matter expert
  • Drug-free workplace

I certainly understand why drug-free workplace would come up as a dud. Most of us, of course, would prefer a drug-free workplace. (At least I would. Many years ago, I worked for a company where coke use was, if not pervasive, not exactly rare. It was NOT a pleasant environment.) But a company that styles itself as drug-free may be pegging itself as an uptight no-fun zone. Drug-free is, of course, associated with government entities and other large organizations. I suspect that most job applicants don’t need to see “drug-free” to know that there are going to be rules and bureaucracies in there somewhere.

As for the rest of the terms, I’m happy to see big data get the boot. Since every breath we take – or at least every keystroke we make – is captured somehow, somewhere, by something, pretty much all data these days is BIG.

I’m surprised that virtual team is not a come-on, what with its promise of telecommuting. Maybe despite all the hype about the joys of working in your PJs, most people just plain don’t want to work in environments where they can’t grab lunch with their colleagues.

Textio found that diagnosing, problem solving, and fixing work better than troubleshooting. Personally, I prefer troubleshooting to diagnosing. And problem solving and fixing are what you do after troubleshooting. Don’t get why folks don’t like it. But I’m not in search of a tech job, either.

I always enjoy working with SME’s,

…but the term carries a connotation that the ideal candidate knows one thing very well and little about anything else, Snyder said. She said tech applicants want to be “full-stack engineers,” a buzzword that performs 32 percent better than “subject matter expert.”

Hmmmm. Wonder how many “full-stack engineers” are SME’s at any one layer of the stack?

While some terms are on the wane, others are waxing away:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Real-time data
  • High availability
  • Roust and scalable
  • Inclusive

Intelligence is certainly getting more and more artificial these days, and pretty soon those robots will be taking over. But when I read about AI, my mind always wanders back to the mid-1980’s when AI was flourishing as an idea, but a total bust as an actuality. A number of my friends worked for an especially snotty AI outfit in Cambridge, where everyone was so convinced of their own brilliance that they couldn’t see how brilliant I was, so they didn’t hire me. Which turned out to be okay, as the company went down in total, scorching flames. (Hah!)

Real-time data is another term that’s coming into its own. When we used to talk about it – back in the day – we were talking strictly about stock market data coming in over the wire. Now, every breath we take – every keystroke we make – is real-time data. Which is how the minute you search for “x” something scarily appears before you pointing out comparable “y”.
And plotting more and more invasive ways to get at you.

High availability, robust and scalable are terms that I’ve used so often over the years in writing about technology products. If I had a dime for every time I’ve done so… Interestingly, there used to be a web site (HubSpot?) that had a free press release analyzer that combed through your releases looking for jargon, missing info, etc. I do believe that robust and scalable were on their buzzword bingo list.

I don’t really know what inclusive translates into in actual words, given that tech companies have been notoriously uninclusive in some respects – especially when it comes to women.

Anyway, an interesting list to go to – and an interesting concept from Textio.

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