How much value is locked up in our social data? The information that we enter into our social networks already has explicit value. LinkedIn can tell a recruiter who you work for, and what you do there, along with what skills you have. But what implicit information is embedded in that network, which it isn't obviously communicating?
Tacit information in social network sites may include how often you post, who else you know on that network, and perhaps most importantly, what kind of person you are. A resume says one thing, but the way that you interact online says far more - and recruiters may soon be able to mine and quantify this information.
Sentiment mining is a good example. Companies such as Attensity and Lexalytics already produce systems that analyse text to produce structured data. They use these techniques to help customers with tasks such as customer relationship management, advertising optimisation, and social media monitoring. But when it comes to social media mining, these techniques are still relatively rudimentary. Searching Twitter streams for "British Airways" and "sucks", or "terrible" to see which customers are irritated so that you can reach out to them is a basic operation.
But your language says far more about you than whether you've had a bad experience on British Airways. In their book, Tribal Leadership, Dave Logan and John King identify five stages of maturity in leadership. As individuals become more mature and better able to lead, their maturity is evident in the language that they use. The language that you use at stage one is markedly different than the language you use stage five. It's more negative, self-centred, and generally victim-like. At stage five, you are using language that is more positive, and community-focused. You revel in other people's success, and identify goals that are bigger than yourself.
Heidegger once said that language is the house of being. Your language defines how you are in the world. So the way that you conduct yourself on social media sites is about more than simply avoiding unprofessional behaviour. Not posting drunken pictures of yourself on work-related social media sites is basic common sense. The smart candidate, however, will use such sites to show how mature and helpful you can be. What kinds of things are you saying on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and how are you bringing people together and helping others? How often do you post intelligent answers on Quora and Stack Overflow?
Right now, recruiters may scan such sites manually to see what kind of leadership potential you have. In the future, natural entity recognition algorithms might score you based on parameters such as these. In an algorithmic world, such things become increasingly likely. Are you ready?
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: What Stack Overflow and Quora say about you.
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