Skills are at the center of TeamFit. They are one of the four key things that the platform connects, the others being People, Projects and Roles. Our focus on skills leads some people to ask “How is this different from LinkedIn?” The best way to answer this question is to look at how skills are handled in these different platforms.

Let’s start by comparing LinkedIn skills and TeamFit skills for three different people. I will begin with my own profile. I keep my LinkedIn profile up to date, I actively endorse other people’s skills and I am active in several LinkedIn groups, including the Design Thinking group that I manage. I am likely to have one of the better LinkeddIn profiles.

I also keep my TeamFit current, going to the dashboard everyday to see what is changing and going into my various projects to check out and recommend skills to people. I accept most of the skills that people suggest to me.

So how do the top ten skills on the two platforms compare? The first thing I notice is that there is only one skill in common, “Pricing Strategy.” The LinkedIn skills tend to be more general, like “Strategy” and “Enterpreneurship” …

In general, LinkedIn is a better view of how the world at large sees me (or at least that part of the world that is connected to me on LinkedIn, which is more than 4,000 people). A strategist who works with start-ups in SaaS and enterprise software. That seems pretty accurate to me.

TeamFit captures the work I actually do on project teams. It is based on a much smaller group of people, people who have actually worked with me directly on projects (about 80 people). As a result, the focus is more on the skills I actually use when I am working with other people. Some of these turn on team leadership like “Coaching” and “Active Listening” while others focus more on the domains I tend to work in, like “Pricing Strategy” and “Market Segmentation.”

Steven Forth

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Let’s look at someone who is not quite as active on LinkedIn, but as a businessperson still has a reasonably complete profile and a lot of connections.

One thing I notice here is that there is a lot of repetition in the LinkedIn skills with the terms “Management” and ‘Consulting” coming up quite often. This is because LinkedIn relies on individuals to list skills while on TeamFit the skills categories are curated. As with my profile, the LinkedIn profile is more general and the TeamFit profile more concrete.

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Technical people make much less use of LinkedIn. They have other ways to build communities and to demonstrate skills, such as GitHub and Stack Overflow. Nevertheless we can see the same trend towards more general skills on LinkedIn and more specific skills on TeamFit, where specific technologies like Ruby on Rails and My SQL show up.

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LinkedIn and TeamFit have very different skill validation models. On LinkedIn, anyone you are connected to can validate a skill, regardless of how much they know about it. One of my friends validated me for small talk! When asked about this she said I am good at making small talk with people. I think she may have been serious! This has come in for a lot of criticism, but in fact it serves LinkedIn’s purposes well, which is to drive engagement on the platform.

TeamFit is at heart a skill management platform. We use skills data to help companies build teams and to support consultants in getting on projects and managing their careers. People can only validate skills if they have actually worked together with a person on a project. Validation by a person who is well regarded on a specific skill is given more weight than a validation by a person that does not have the skill. This gives much more accurate ratings than simply adding up the number of people who have clicked.

Our users have found our skill validation model to be too narrow. There are many types of evidence one could offer to show that one really has a skill:

  • Social validation by people who have worked together on a project (what we do now)
  • Validation by a recognized external expert who is willing to vouch for a person and add evidence
  • Provision of a credential
  • Publications and patents
  • Manager ratings (these are frequently inaccurate or incomplete)

In TeamFit Version 2, we will be opening up our platform in many ways. One way is that we will be accepting all of these different forms of skill evidence and using them to make our SkillRank™ algorithm even more accurate.

This will help companies find the best people and build the teams that deliver client success. Consultants will get real insight into their own skills and the skills of the people around them. Overall, there will be a dramatic improvement in the ways in which teams get built.