It’s Who-You-Know and Some What-You-Know That Gets You Identified

I’m a zero. So are many of my friends. The wonder is, I really don’t care and I’m not going to do anything about it.

Let me explain. Yesterday, ForbesTechCrunch, and some others detailed the beta launch of Identified. This is a startup that connects to your Facebook profile and assigns you a score that in the words of the company’s PR “shows people how their professional brand is perceived by the world.”

Identified assesses your work history, education, and your social network, crunches it together, and voila, a score. Since this is supposed to be a recruiting tool — it’s billed by the founders as the “World’s Largest Professional Search Engine” — companies can use Identified to search for candidates with certain qualifications, plus a score range. And just so everyone knows they really are using Identified, there’s an activity box that lets you know “Levi Strauss & Co. has viewed profiles of candidates with scores from 16 to 77.”

Some very smart people have poured a bunch of money into Identified; $5.5 million from the likes of Bill Draper, founder of Sutter Hill Ventures and Draper Richards; Alexander Tamas, partner at DST; Chamath Palihapitiya, a VP at Facebook; and from Innovation Endeavors, a VC founded by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

The founders say Identified is an alternative, even a competitor, to LinkedIn.

The problem with LinkedIn, founder Brendan Wallace told Forbes, “is it just outputs a lot of data. We’re really a search engine that delivers professional information in a professional way. You get the best results at the top.”

Ranking candidates is nothing new. ATS vendors and job boards have been at it for more than a decade. Their method is to rank candidates against the description of the job for which they’re being considered. Even the least sophisticated match keywords, ranking candidates on the number of matches. Better systems take a semantic approach, looking to concepts and context as much or more than the frequency of keyword matches.

Identified weights the breadth and quality of a person’s network. Says Wallace:

We saw that companies cared as much about a person’s network as they did about their education and work experience. So we built Identified to show people how they appear to world based not only on what they know, but who they know.

Forbes addresses some of the obvious issues with the Identified approach, including what it calls the “philosophical question” of reducing a person and their contacts to a score.

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For recruiters, though, there are bigger issues with Identified. The biggest is that Facebook itself says that less than half the 700 million users enter any of their professional information. How many, like myself for instance, provide a minimal bit isn’t known. That skews Identified’s scoring. For people who really care, Identified encourages you to fill-in the missing information to improve your ranking.

Even with some detailed work and education background, the other part of the system can skew the results. Like so many social networkers, I use LinkedIn professionally, and Facebook socially. My Facebook friends have an eclectic assortment of professional experience and education. Most don’t bother with those categories.

My business colleagues are almost exclusively part of my LinkedIn network.

So I’m a zero on Identified because I chose not to provide much professional and personal background and few of my friends do either. As a recruiter, how valuable is that?

And I thank you in advance for not taking the obvious opening provided in my first paragraph.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


10 Comments on “It’s Who-You-Know and Some What-You-Know That Gets You Identified

  1. Once again,life imitates art:

    (From “Salon”)
    In “Super Sad True Love Story”
    Gary Shteyngart’s biting satire of a tech-mad America in decline, ….the most slicing satire in this novel, however, is reserved for the technologized culture of everyday urban life; Shteyngart is the Joseph Heller of the information age. His characters carry networked devices called äppäräti wherever they go, emitting (willingly or not) such data as their cholesterol and stress levels, credit rankings, self-esteem and relationship history, as well as their off-the-cuff evaluations of friends and strangers. “Learn to rate everyone around you,” a co-worker admonishes Lenny [the”hero”-kh]: The instantaneously broadcasted metrics include such categories as Personality, Sustainability and F—ability. When a friend suggests that they “FAC” while hanging out in a bar, clueless Lenny has to be told that this acronym means “‘Form A Community’ … It’s, like, a way to judge people. And let them judge you.” (Lenny by the way, comes in last place among 40 in the category of “Male Hotness.”)


    Keith “****1/2” Halperin

  2. I imagine I’m a big fat zero too. Woo Hoo!!! I, too, use LI exclusively for business and waste little time with FB personally. LIke Betty White I see FB as a huge waste of time. I merely post pics so my friends around the country can see what’s going on in my world. It will be interesting to see if Identified succeeds and if they are smart enough to link their system to LI…

  3. Right now we are just in th middle of evolving into an INTEGRATED society! Look at how far we have come in only 10 years of the world wide web. A lot of the conferences and blogs I keep up with are talking about everything online being seamless – having a “Profersonal” presence online (as Jason Seiden would call it). With the new subscriptions and things facebook is pushing out, then we will be able to keep certain things private to some connections, but open to others depending on the relationship (this is going to be very effective for teachers/students, etc. including any other service industry). I continue to push myself to learn new technologies and ways to recruit — this will continue to change, but right now, yes, i use FB, LI, Twitter and am dabbling in Google+

  4. It seems like practically every day there is some new site on the scene to measure our value to the world. How on Earth did we all manage to get anything done without knowing how worthwhile someone else was first.

    As much as I understand that many people find these tools fun and entertaining, I hope we aren’t getting to the point that we have to expose every possible aspect of our lives online in order to be ranked or deemed worthy of opportunities.

    Identified seems to count only how much you share on facebook. Those of us who only use fb for friends & family fun, are permanently destined for zero-ville.

  5. This sounds interesting in theory but needs a lot more meat on the bones before we could recommend this to clients as an effective way to use Facebook for recruiting. There are many other priorities and opportunities in Facebook Recruiting before we get to this one.

  6. “Who-You-Know” is worthless if they Who Know You only know you casually; and/or are munchkins relative to professional clout.

    It actually only has true value when they “Who-You-Know” respect you and are professionally respected themselves.

    And kudos to Keith Halperin. His comment here mesmerized me in its creative and on-target value.

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