Steven Forth is a Co-Founder of TeamFit. See his Skill Profile.

 

Most of us now have multiple profiles. There is LinkedIn for business, Facebook for family and friends, too many communication apps to count (everything from Whatsapp to Line). You probably have a Google profile sleeping somewhere, and more than one on Slack. How many of us keep our profiles up-to-date?

For most of us, our profiles are stale. They are a snapshot in time rather than a dynamic and changing picture of who we are today. Why are so many of our profiles left to moulder? The best way to answer that is to look at when we make updates.

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For LinkedIn, there is a working assumption that people update their profiles when they are about to start looking for a new job. There are even services that monitor profiles for recruiters. Most people see LinkedIn as a necessary way to complement their résumés. High-performance networkers go beyond this of course and work hard to have a compelling profile, but that is a very small part of the population.

On Facebook, people are most likely to change their profiles when they change their relationship status.

What do these two have in common? There has been an important change in the person’s life. This sort of cue, to use Nir Eyal’s term from Hooked, generally leads to an updated profile. But in the absence of a major prompt most profiles are left to stagnate.

There are reasons to keep your profile up-to-date. They are used more than you might think. LinkedIn profiles are viewed quite frequently and not just by recruiters. For most companies, LinkedIn actually has more information about a person than the internal profile, whether this comes from an HR and Talent Management system or an internal corporate networking system. Why is this?

The most important reason is that internal profiles, and data collection generally, are designed for the company and not for the individual. They do not help the individual get insights or improve their performance. They provide little insight into colleagues. The company leaders often have the most incomplete profiles and are the least engaged. The company and not the individual has control over the data and what is done with it. Given these choices on the part of companies, it is not surprising that the profiles on internal systems are bland, incomplete and stagnant.

There are good reasons to keep a profile current. A good profile makes it easier for people to find you. Getting found is the key to building networks, finding work (and not just jobs) and contributing to innovation. Profiles are used more and more to gauge a person’s reputation. An out-of-date profile suggests a person does not take their work seriously. One’s profile is also one way to build influence, both inside and outside a company.

Let’s look at a set of professionals where profiles do work. Software engineers. What, software engineers! They hate things like LinkedIn, indeed, many don’t even have a profile on the ‘professionals’ social network. Why should they? They have much better places to be. If I want to get a feeling for a coders interests and ability I don’t look on LinkedIn. I go to Github and StackOverflow and see what they are working on and how they are contributing to their communities. That is a much more real kind of profile for an engineer. It is a place where they can demonstrate prowess and contribute to the wider good. Things that are important to many engineers.

What will the next generation of internal profiles need to look like if they are going to gain acceptance and provide value? Profiles will need to be

  • Part of conversations
  • Valuable to the individual
  • Insightful for others
  • Automated so that one’s normal activities lead to profile updates
  • Integrated with other systems inside and outside the organization

We are working to do all four of these things at TeamFit, but we don’t think they are enough.

Beyond this, a good profile will help a person understand themselves, their potential and their motivations. This is why TeamFit is designed so that you can signal your core and target skills and why we invest so much in helping you uncover your potential skills. It is also why we are exploring mind maps of career goals. In our research to date, we are finding these help people to understand their own motivations in new ways. See Mind mapping career goals gives the insights needed for real collaboration. We are testing the hypothesis that building tools to help us better understand ourselves will help us better understand each other.

Why should a person be open and honest with a company if it is the company that owns the data and it is not clear how it will be used? The tendency will rather be guarded and to offer no more than the minimum. If a profile is going to have value to an individual, which is the foundation for its having value to the company, then the person should have maximum control over that profile, and that control includes data portability. When (not if) I change companies I should be able to bring data about myself with me. This is one of our design principles at TeamFit. See Ownership of data in a collaborative age: Three unworkable approaches and a way forward.

Here are the profiles of some of the key people at TeamFit:

  David Botta

  Karen Chiang

  Amar Dhaliwal

  Steven Forth

  Lee Iverson.

Do you get any insights about us from our profiles?
What more would you like to learn about us?