What Do You Want To Do Next? Path 101 Wants To Help

Mom used to be so proud when as a little kid I would tell people I wanted to be an engineer when I grew up. Mom, of course, was thinking bridges, airplanes, rockets. I was thinking trains. As in driving them.

When she finally caught on, she’d cut me off to say, “I think he might be a lawyer.”

Nowadays, freshly out of work adults are asking themselves a version of that same question. But they have tools to help them explore a world of options and see how well their background and personal makeup fit other occupations.

The latest entrant in the career planning arena is Path 101. Saying it “helps people figure out what they want to do with their career,” co-founder and CEO Charlie O’Donnell and his team have put together a fairly extensive list of industries and occupations showing the kind of longevity people have, the education required for the job, and several other datapoints. They did this by combing the Internet for career profiles, resumes, and the like, and then distilling the information into statistical compilations that are graphically depicted on the site.

For each occupation there are tabs for education, career paths, jobs, which are pulled from Indeed, and something called “insider info,” which has limited content, but is where feeds from industry bloggers will offer news and tips, and where lists of targeted resources will be found. Sprinkled in each area are bits and bytes of information, such as the personality traits common among individuals in the profession. Where this latter insight comes from isn’t clear, though there is a personality test available.

For a site 18 months in the development, there has to be some disappointment over January’s launch by Monster of its own career-planning tools. The Monster offering is equally graphical though deeper and more robust, with the data compiled from Monster’s inventory of several million resumes, supplemented by labor statistics from the federal government and the company’s own surveys. In fact, its career benchmarking channel offers a few things I’d want to know if I was scouting around for a new career: What does it pay and how have people with my background fared in the industry.

Path101 also bears a resemblance to Vault.com in the nature of some of the information, right down to the personality traits component. Vault, however, takes a different road, presenting compilations of industry surveys, current news, and participant surveys.

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When O’Donnell described Path101 at the ERE conference a year ago, he placed an emphasis on the community component. And in the alpha version of the site that launched today, there are signs of how it will be used. In the Advice section for instance, users can seek career guidance. Some already have and gotten responses. The Insider Info sections links to bloggers and Twitter will add to that.

This is where a site like Vault has the upper hand. Its community has been visiting the site for years. And though its messaging is clunky and doesn’t make great — hardly any? — use of Web 2.0 social tools, there is a loyal cadre of regular posters.

As far a business model, O’Donnell says, ” The business model is simple — know the candidate better so we can be a  better place to search for people.” It does that by collecting resumes when users upload them to see how they compare to those already in the database. As the users take the various tests, and otherwise add to their profile, a more complete candidate picture emerges.

“We think resumes are a commodity,” O’Donnell adds, “and only by adding more data to the process can you add value.  Users give us data (because) they’re trying to figure out their careers and we help them put their own data in a frame of reference.”

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. 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.

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5 Comments on “What Do You Want To Do Next? Path 101 Wants To Help

  1. Hi John,

    Thanks for the coverage. We definitely appreciate the feedback. I’d just like to clarify a few things.

    I’m not sure where you get that we’ve been developing the site for 18 months. That would put us back in September ’07. The company was incorporated back in October of ’07 and we finished our fundraising round back in Febuary of ’08. We began our crawl around that time, but application development didn’t really begin in earnest until we hired our first two developers back in April and May of last year. So, in terms of people hours, what we’ve done is a little less than a year old.

    As for Monster, I had to re-read that paragraph twice. I wasn’t sure if you thought we should be disappointed or Monster should. Monster’s offering had been “in development” even longer than ours had (I met with the team working on it up in Maynard personally) and they have nearly unlimited resources to work on it (vs. our team of 4 working on angel capital). Yet, besides being “more graphical” I was pretty underwhelmed. None of what they presented is anything that we can’t do, and I’m not even 100% convinced they’ve presented it in a more usable way. Have you seen any industry or jobseeker buzz about their product? Most of the industry people I’ve talked to have been pretty unimpressed, and no jobseeker that I’ve talked to has brought up this new section of their site. In fact, their $3 million Super Bowl add didn’t even really mention it, and their traffic last month is just about what it was back in September, meaning the launch had a pretty negotiable effect above normal seasonality.

    “…personality traits common among individuals in the profession. Where this latter insight comes from isn’t clear, though there is a personality test available.”

    You answered your own question. Our personality data comes from our own personality tests.

    One thing you also forgot to mention. Unlike Vault.com, our tools are completely free.

    I would have been more than happy to chat with you about our product before you wrote the story. Please do feel free to reach out next time at charlie@path101.com.

  2. Hey Charlie –

    Sorry you took umbrage over some of the things in my post about Path101. It’s a nice enough site, but after your 18 months of work (see your Sept. 2007 blog posts) and a provocative presentation at the March ERE conference, I was expecting a little more there, there.

    After getting your launch announcement the other day, I went through the site. I know a few things about law careers, so that was one I checked out. Path101 says that the average number of years of education required for a career in corporate law is low. On the other hand, the educational requirement for a job in food service is listed as average. Something’s not right there. While you’re on the food service page, take a look at the longevity metrics. The “Stickiness” for the category is reported as average, but after they’ve worked a job in the field, the “% of people who stay” metric is reported as low.

    Knowing you are in pre-beta, I didn’t walk through all of this in the post. More traffic and more participation will inevitably improve the site over time and add to its value. For now, though, it’s career planning lite.

    Meanwhile, for a jobseeker considering a career change, Monster and Vault are both better choices. That Monster hasn’t generated a lot of blog buzz is a silly reason to ding it. Monster’s career planning tools, imperfect they may be, provide a good deal of specifics. They certainly do not advise me that the educational requirements to be a lawyer are low.

    On the other hand, I was tickled to see that Path101 lists teamwork and agreeableness as two of the lowest scoring lawyer personalty traits. For a site in alpha, however, I do wonder just where the data came from.

    Hope this helps clarify things.

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