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Attention Career-Seekers: MyPath Taps Social Network to Plot Your Next Move

MyPath assessments

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This morning I discovered after taking a 20-minute career assessment test on MyPath.com that, in addition to being a writer (a career I’ve built happily over more than a decade), I also possess the skills to be a teacher or a public speaker. It’s certainly not as far-fetched as the results of a similar five-minute quiz I took on Careerpath.com, which indicated several, let’s say, alternate jobs that also matched my skills and knowledge. They were … wait for it … coroner, economist, and electrical engineer.

I’ll admit to being a lot of things, but proficiency in math is definitely not one of them, as anyone who is reasonably acquainted with me would agree. And last time I checked, being either an economist or an electrical engineer required more than a rudimentary knowledge of the multiplication tables. Dead bodies notwithstanding.

(Full Disclosure: I declined to take the test offered by Monster partner About U, which promised a 22-page report and an MP3 that would delineate my passions, all for the low price of $149.)

So for a free assessment with a small time investment, it would seem that the MyPath test had a better handle on who I am, even going to so far as to suggest, “You might want to be a little more generous in your assessment of your abilities.”

Drilling down to those specifics is the whole point of MyPath, a career management Web site guided by Manpower, a $22 billion employment services organization. The site officially launches this week after the viral success of beta testing with 150,000 users and four years of research and development, according to Tammy Johns, senior vice president of global workforce strategy.

In an age of increasingly-personalized Web tools, Amy Bernstein, editor-in-chief of MyPath, is banking on the fact that by giving individuals the tools to know themselves, MyPath can serve up targeted career advice and relevant information to produce a more informed global workforce.

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To this end, Bernstein explains that they’ve vetted everything from those assessments to webinars, articles, and continuing education courses before adding them to the mix. Johns particularly crows about the tests–developed by Harvard professors for Career Leader and already used by over 250,000 professionals–as well as articles by renowned industry professionals. Though it’s a lot of content, “We’re not trying to be Macy’s, this is a boutique,” she explains, “and you’ll never get bombarded by job ads.”

Which is not to say that job search is not a component of MyPath. It is. You get to it through a “back door” of sorts, says Jeff Joerres, Manpower’s CEO, once you’ve navigated some of the content. “This is not a job board, there are already enough of those. MyPath has a holistic, longitudinal view; that is a very different lens.”

As such, job search isn’t as prominent as “Groups,” the first choice on the top navigation bar. Communities were a driver of the initial research says Johns, detailing how Manpower reached out to their branch offices in five U.S and five European cities and discovered that what their clients really wanted was to connect with others on the same career path to network and learn.

“Does the world need another social networking site? Yes,” asserts Joerres. He believes the future of social networking is micro-focused and points to MyPath’s nascent, but growing, micro-communities of finance and accounting students and graduates, for example.

Joerres insists that MyPath is not trying to be a competitor of LinkedIn, rather he notes that LinkedIn had spawned targeted communities within the overall user group, and they are using some of Manpower’s career assessment tools to enhance their own offerings. Like Microsoft’s Toolbox, Joerres says the functionality improves the more the person uses it because the system stores the information to provide more targeted results.

With storage comes a privacy challenge. Joerres maintains that people can “be themselves” on MyPath as opposed to open job boards where individuals must guard what they say, given that potential employers can access their information. Berstein adds, “This is no Farmville,” referring to the popular Facebook game that when played, automatically posts updates to the live feed letting friends and co-workers know when the person is slacking off.

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Bernstein points out that while the tools are free, with the exception of Skillsoft’s continuing education courses, there are no solicitations on the site either. “This is an honest attempt to help,” she says. So MyPath, is like Twitter, with no apparent revenue stream?

Joerres says, “We see MyPath as a long-term strategy for developing the workforce by improving individuals’ skills, connecting them to trusted content, and if desired, helping people find jobs. MyPath will help Manpower make money as a result of building a relationship with candidates and clients.” It’s worth noting that MyPath is initially catering to professionals in IT, engineering, and finance/accounting, key industries targeted for Manpower Professional’s growth.

As Johns looks at an online landscape littered with the various social networking and recruiting platforms that have sprung up in the last few years, she says simply, “It’s just a bunch of people until you give them the tools. I’d rather not have 50 million people [signing up arbitrarily] but for 3 million to come when they really need to.”

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About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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