Eric Johnson

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Sokanu Says Science Can Help You Find Your Dream Job

Why do you work where you do and are you happy there? If the answer is “no” for the second question, Spencer Thompson has a new answer for the first.

Thompson, 21, is the CEO of Vancouver-based Sokanu, which officially launches this week. Its aim: to connect people with better career paths by way of some snazzy design and an advanced job-ranking algorithm.

“Most people don’t know who they are as a person, and if you don’t know who you are as a person, it’s really, really hard for you to know what you’re meant to do,” Thompson said.

Sokanu is sort of like a modern upgrade to those job-aptitude tests you may have taken in school. As you tell it more and more about yourself, the site’s algorithm is able to show how well your values overlap with different career paths.

The start-up is operating on the belief that existing sources of career info — such as family, friends and school guidance counselors — are heavily biased and misleading. Sokanu touts a survey it ran with Harris Interactive, which found that 90 percent of millennials don’t completely trust those sources to know what’s best.

(Sidebar: in case you’re wondering, Sokanu is pronounced like a statement rather than a question. So, it’s not: “So, can you?” — but rather: “So can you!” Paging Stephen Colbert …)

Thompson said he won’t allow paid job listings in the system, because that would pollute the algorithm’s results. Instead, he expects to make money off of the site by providing premium users with more detailed insights about their personalities and by developing a special set of tools for schools and guidance counselors.

Also interesting, but still untested on a large enough user base, are Sokanu’s pseudo-social networking features. Yes, you’re supposed to fill out yet another profile, but it’s for a good cause. The more personal career info you’re willing to make public, the more you’ll theoretically help others looking at jobs in your field.

This brings some of that dreaded bias back into the equation, but Sokanu supposedly waits to understand a user well before it directs him or her to other users’ profiles.

To see the site in action, take a look at this video from Thompson’s visit to the AllThingsD office last week:

Top image licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Randall Munroe / xkcd.com


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google