Your Future- LinkedIn’s Prediction

By Karleigh Creighton

What if a social media site could predict where you’d be in five years? What if it could match your profile with someone else’s through a carefully formulated search, finding the person you’re destined to become like regarding the industry you’d be working in or wanting to work in in the future?

It’s hard to think about an Internet site predicting where our career will take us, especially when it’s common for things to go very differently than we originally plan. The average college student changes his or her major three times before graduating. It’s an example of believing your life will head in a certain direction but over time realizing that’s not where you want to go at all. Interests change and people change, so doesn’t it seem a bit wild that an online social media site could predict our career path when we ourselves can barely guess what lies ahead?

LinkedIn developed a formula to make their best guess at where a particular user will be in a set number of years. It involves comparing the users profile with professionals who are currently in or had previously been in the same industry and then narrowing down the similarities until they find a “best guess” for who the user is likely to become- career wise.

The search begins with keywords related to a users profession. For example, if the user is a Journalist, LinkedIn will likely search keywords like “Journalist,” “Editor,” and “Writer” and then pool all of the matches from its 300 million total user database.
The site continues its search for a user’s future by determining the average length an individual in the specified profession searched sticks with it. After determining the lifespan of a career, LinkedIn gets personal and chooses the career events and skills of the user most likely to be influential in their future endeavors. These more specific filters include: specific skills, internships and specific types of work (using our Journalist example, the “specific type of work” category includes what topics a journalist covers and what outlets they have written for). Filters like gender and University attended are not used.

After searching with these more specific filters, LinkedIn’s public relations team takes over from the social media site’s impressive search function. The PR team narrows down the potential candidates for the user’s “future self” by using a more personal knowledge of the user including specific interests, desired location and favorite areas of study.
So who will you become? LinkedIn’s PR teams leaves users with three choices for their future self and the final decision is made by the person who knows you best, you.
Of course, this search is not indicative of the exact working professional you are destined to become, but it’s a great tool to show you possible career options based on what those with similar interests and beginnings have done.

Imagine the beginning of your senior year of college, graduation is only a few months away and then what comes next- the job search. The prospect of a job search may feel daunting and that might be because you are not 100 percent sure of what you really want to do. You have a general idea of the field you’re interested, but cannot pinpoint the specifics. This LinkedIn search could get you started. With the same formula used to predict a user’s “future self,” a young adult fresh out of college, could find a match to figure out the best place to start.

You may not stick with the job you find through this extensive, formulated search long-term, but it could provide a great place to begin. Or maybe it’s time to start over. It’s possible that the career you chose at age 22 upon your college graduation, no longer fits your needs or interests as your life situation changes and you need help finding a new career path that’s right for you. LinkedIn may be a great resource for help in making this life-changing decision.

According to Mashable, LinkedIn’s fastest growing segment is students and the company is very interested in providing tools that will help them determine the right career choice and find the job they want or if the students are younger, find the college that’s the best fit for them and push them towards an appropriate area of study. This search may be a great fit for that.

Do you think LinkedIn can successfully predict what you’ll be doing in five years? Could this tool be helpful for high school and college students seeking guidance or an older adult looking to start over?

The process described above was an experiment conducted with LinkedIn user Kurt Wagner. “Future Kurt” was determined to be fellow LinkedIn user Mussarat Bata, who shared 12 skills with him. Both Kurt and Mussarat started their careers with magazines owned by Time Inc. and both wrote for their university publications. Wagner chose Bata out of the LinkedIn’s top three choices for his future self because he recognized that both of them got into the field for the same reason, to pursue their passion- Bata, beauty and fashion, Wagner, sports.

Wagner found out that Bata left her career in journalism for a job in social media and marketing at a hospitality and entertainment company after five years, because there is a lack of jobs and money in the industry. Wagner wrote on Mashable that if he had had an opportunity to take a test like this in college, it may have had a major impact on his career choice and he would have greatly appreciated the chance to talk to a mentor-like figure, like Bata.

LinkedIn has not yet finalized an automated search tool to conduct an extensive search like this that is available to all users; however, the company is interested in working on one. Their work with Kurt Wagner created the framework.

As always, I welcome your comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

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