Mosaic Of Crowdsourced Talent

How Crowdsourcing Talent May Kill the Resume

Crowdsourcing — the process of publicly posting a problem or opportunity online and then requesting solutions, services, financing, or other forms of support from “the crowd” — has seen explosive growth in recent years.

Individuals have increasingly turned to crowdsourcing for everything from raising money for personal projects (using sites like Kickstarter) to sourcing business investors (StartEngine) to even finding help for personal tasks and errands (TaskRabbit).

Companies are also no stranger to crowdsourcing, from posting public appeals for new product ideas to creating marketing and ads based on user-submitted content. And now, many innovative companies are using crowdsourcing to find and hire the best possible talent.


How Crowdsourcing Talent Works

The process goes something like this: When faced with a difficult problem, instead of posting a job description and collecting and analyzing traditional resumes, companies are publicly posting specific problems or tasks and evaluating the submitted solutions to find the best talent. Winners and standout applications are often rewarded with long-term work or even permanent positions.

The benefits of this type of approach are obvious. It’s hard to argue about a job candidate’s credentials when he/she has already proven that they are capable of doing exactly what you need him/her to do.

To fill the demand by businesses for talent crowdsourcing, plenty of companies have sprung up with specialty-specific crowdsourcing programs. One of the most notable examples is Kaggle, a platform that hosts data-related competitions on behalf of companies, researchers, government and other organizations for data scientists.

Here are just a few specific examples of companies who have successfully hosted competitions using Kaggle:


  • Facebook launched an engineering competition that challenged applicants to distinguish between human and robot auction submissions. The prize was a chance to interview for a role as a Facebook software engineer.


  • GE sponsored a contest that requested solutions to make flights more efficient and on-time based on a set of flight data. Winners received a $250K prize.


  • Walmart published a set of historical sales data from a sample of stores and asked data scientists to predict how certain promotions and events would affect sales. Walmart made several hires as a result of the competition.


This article in The Atlantic sums up Kaggle’s impact nicely:

[dt_quote type=”blockquote” font_size=”normal” animation=”none” background=”plain”]“…it’s a more significant, more valuable, indicator of capability than our traditional benchmarks for proficiency or expertise. In other words, your Ivy League diploma and IBM resume don’t matter so much as my Kaggle score. It’s flipping the resume, where your work is measurable and metricized and your value in the marketplace is more valuable than the place you work.”[/dt_quote]

Other crowdsourcing platforms that help companies find great talent: 99 Designs for graphic design work, TopCoder for programming and coding jobs, Talenthouse for photography and videography, Scripted for content writing, and Upwork for marketing, administration, and many other tasks.


Can Crowdsourced Talent Work for Us?

To start using the power of crowdsourcing to find talent for your company, you don’t necessarily need to use a specific crowdsourcing platform.

If you’re facing a problem or looking for talent that you think could be helped by crowdsourcing, this Inc. writer suggests that you start by clearly defining your expected outcome. Once you’ve established the goals of your crowdsourcing quest, you can leverage your own company’s social media accounts to spread the word, and encourage your own employees to do the same. Depending on your problem and your industry, you might even find it useful to run paid ads.

Keep your expectations realistic, and don’t forget to question the results that you get. Even the best of the group of submissions you get from “the crowd” might not truly be the best solution for your business.

Photo credit: hobvias sudoneighm / CC BY 2.0


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