Even though there are tens of thousands of employment websites, with millions of visitors each week to single sites like CareerBuilder or Monster.com, most people still get their jobs through personal connections. The kind of freewheeling matchup of talented people with opportunities (endeavors) that IBM Global Innovation Outlook 2.0 envisioned isn’t here yet. There’s a good reason: Online accreditation is still difficult and limited. We still feel a lot safer bringing people we know — or that our colleagues know — into jobs that matter.
- Who is this person, anyway? A resume simply doesn’t tell us who a person is. Even with online engines looking for keywords and restructuring entries, vocabulary differ, things are left out and a sense of the values, true interests and accomplishments always requires a lot of digging. Social networks, podcasts and other tools can help us put together a picture that approaches meeting the person, but assembling such a dossier is still time-consuming and hit-and-miss. Additionally, it can be distorted by older entries, selective priorities and errors. The person we google isn’t (yet) the real person.
- How do I know they are who they say they are? Identity theft and deception (including resume padding) are also problems for employers and potential partners. Combinations of biometrics, passwords and reputation management systems can help here. Like security, it is levels and redundancy that improve the odds of validating identities effectively.
- What are their qualifications? Degrees and certificates are the baseline documents of qualification in our world, so it is notable that colleges and universities are still very concerned about giving people credit for courses attended, tests taken and papers written by virtual students. Who really did the work? One step against a major problem here is the use of services like turnitin.com, which can detect plagiarism.
- What are the standards? A flaw in both reputation management systems and diplomas is that these depend upon what individuals or boards value — which might not be rigorous enough or up-to-date enough for an employers purposes. Complicating this is a growth in the industry of diploma mills, where anyone who pays can get a degree and the gaming of feedback systems (such as that used by eBay). With something as simple as book reviews on Amazon.com open to manipulation by authors and their friends, how much more difficult is the rating of a talented person?
- What is the character of this person? Can I trust this person? Do they pay attention to deadlines and commitments? Do they stand behind their work? Will they reveal my secrets? This may be the most difficult obstacle to matching talents with opportunities in a connected world. And it has legal implications since a misstep can lead to lawsuits for discrimination, libel or slander. Voluntary solutions that are tied to codes of behavior may be helpful here.
There are other concerns. People don’t like to fill out forms and they are even less likely to keep them current. More and more experience comes in small bits as assignments become fragmented, but methods for documenting and evaluating these experiences is not well developed. And there is not a good mechanism for deciding if the sum of these experience or more or less than the sum of its parts.
With all these dimensions, there is still evidence that accreditation problems can be solved and opportunities for matching talent with endeavors will grow. Perhaps the best place to look for models is the matchmaking sites. The stakes for finding a lover or a partner probably are higher for most people than anything involving work. If eHarmony.com alone — which uses psychological testing — can lead to an average of over 230 marriages per day, there may be lessons for accreditation.