Blog Archives

70% Of People Will Hire Someone With A Portfolio

We’re always looking for ways to make it easier for people to get found for their skills.  We recently conducted a survey to discover what our members thought was most important when selecting someone to work with on SkillPages.

Key Finding

For 70% of respondents a portfolio was the most important thing on a member’s profile.

It’s very clear from this result that showcasing your skills is the most important thing you can do to get yourself noticed and in return get contacted for new work opportunities.  You can easily build up your portfolio by uploading images, files and videos for potential customers to browse. If you are confident in your work, then showcasing it is the next natural step.  You don’t need to be a professional photographer or videographer, let your work speak for itself!  Work examples not only allow you to stand out from your competition but also tell people why they should choose you for their next opportunity.

The big take away from this is that members with work examples are more likely to get hired. So don’t waste any time in making sure your portfolio is up to date. To give you some inspiration have a look at some popular portfolios:

  • Kerry Robinson a graphic designer from England updates her portfolio with her designed merchandise such as t-shirts, notebooks, key rings, mugs and bags.
  • Kelly Vanfossen a crocheter from USA adds work examples such as her hand made Angry Birds, shawls and other women’s wear.
  • Sunny Wieler a stonemason from Ireland illustrates his progression in his stone projects, uploads photos and videos of his work examples and snippets of publications of is featured work.
  • Sam McFarlane a free runner from Scotland frequently adds videos of his skills in action (I wouldn’t try this at home!).  He also uploads different photos of his performances in events/ festivals and even when he features in music videos.

We are also going to take this insight on-board for our upcoming site redesign, with an overhaul to portfolios which will help to bring your work examples to the forefront.  Stay tuned for more updates on that in the coming weeks!

Other Findings

  • 52% feel that recommendations were very important when considering to work with someone.
  • 49% of respondents wanted to see a profile picture before choosing to work with someone new.

Thanks to all those who have given their feedback.  If you have any questions or feedback to add please let us know in the comments or email us!

The survey polled more than 300 members.

Innovating In The Cloud With AWS

Delivering a product that is used by millions of people on a global scale takes a quite a lot of effort and resources.  At SkillPages, we decided early on that we wanted to put our efforts into creating great software that delivers value to our members and not get overly stretched with building out and managing platform infrastructure.  Of course, the underlying platform has to be scalable and flexible enough to accommodate our requirements as we learn and evolve.  This is principally why we chose to cloud-base the SkillPages platform on AWS.

From the success we have had so far with AWS, Amazon have invited me to share our experiences at their upcoming London event.  The event is an introduction into what AWS can offer your business.  If you’re involved in a start-up looking to scale out your venture I highly recommend attendance.

What Will You Learn?

  • Learn about how AWS helps you get to market faster and also stay agile
  • Discover how to implement AWS to power a lean lifecycle when running, scaling, and iterating your product
  • Learn from existing AWS customers about their experiences with Amazon Web Services
  • Network with AWS technical representatives and executives and local technology leaders

Who Should Attend?

  • Founders, co-founders, technical and business-minded entrepreneurs
  • Startups building scalable, lean applications

When?

September 26th 13:00-18:00

Check out the AWS events page for registration and full details.  See you there!

We need you…if you’re a designer!

It’s a pretty exciting time for us.  We’ve got a full blown site redesign in the works, codenamed ‘SkillPages 2.0’, (I didn’t say it was a good codename).  Simultaneously we’ve got numerous projects on-going for mobile, user growth, community and much more coming up in our product roadmap.

To date, we’ve had only two designers in our team – they’re pretty great so we haven’t really needed more.  Meet Tony O’Donohoe and Reiner Wendland. Between these two, they have handled the massive task of redesigning the entire SkillPages experience on desktop, and while I don’t want to give the game away before our development team have had a chance to build it, and you’ve been able to use it – we think it’s pretty special.

We’re now looking for another Designer. It’s a role we’re pretty excited about. We’re looking for someone who doesn’t necessarily have huge design experience but is desperate to learn and has the raw talent and desire required to hustle with the rest of our team.

What could you expect from the role?  Well, you can expect to be guided by Tony and Reiner while working on particular pieces of larger projects i.e. the SkillPages 2.0 login process or be entirely responsible for smaller pieces of work, i.e. designing a new homepage for an A/B test, or working on a new email invitation template.  As part of this team you’ll learn, develop and advance a lot further than many other organisations can provide.

We’re pretty big on understanding the role design plays within SkillPages, it isn’t ‘design for the sake of design’, here is a look at our product development and design Manifesto:-

  1. Think users first
  2. Deliver on Expectations
  3. Make it intuitive
  4. Focus on speed to gratification
  5. Less, is more
  6. Ask for effort in the context of the benefit
  7. Be consistent and build trust
  8. Think of the future
  9. Be personal
  10. Data, not opinions

At SkillPages, we’re trying to create a more efficient labour market so that everyone, everywhere can discover new opportunities for their skills.  We’re looking for someone who wants to help us achieve this.

If you’re interested – get in touch.

Two Major Milestones For SkillPages

Today, we’re delighted to announce another major milestone for SkillPages.  We’ve just passed the 5,000,000 members mark and we’ve closed a $9.5 million Series B funding round. Importantly however, SkillPages as a platform is working better than ever at unlocking new opportunities for our 5 million members.  There are thousands of people getting contacted about new opportunities every day and we’ve started highlighting some of these stories on our blog.  Helping our members find skilled people and get their skill found is the focus of SkillPages and we’re committed to continuing to improve SkillPages in this area.

Our funding round will allow us to continue to invest in technology and a team that helps unlock new opportunities for people everywhere.  The recent implementation of the “SkillGraph” technology is an example of this commitment to improving our members experience through a total focus on relevance.

Having 5 million people join the platform since we launched in January 2011 is both humbling and exciting.  Our additional funding will help us to increase our focus on continuing to accelerate our user growth in order to make SkillPages a platform that is useful for many millions of people around the world.

We’re still only just getting started at SkillPages, all the team here would like to say a big thank you to our 5 million members and say again that we’ll continue to do everything we can to help you find the skilled people you need, and discover new opportunities for your skills.

Onwards and Upwards!

We’re Hiring – Data Analyst Wanted

SkillPages is looking for a Data Analyst for its Dublin office.

We’re looking for someone who lives and breathes data analysis.  You take raw data and transform it into presentable insights in to user behaviour in order to drive growth, engagement and revenue generation across SkillPages.

Responsibilities

  • Data investigation, analysis and communication of key operational metrics from across the business including user behaviour, revenue and user acquisition.
  • You’ll be responsible for producing analytical KPI dashboards through which stakeholders make key business decisions daily.
  • Extracting and compiling the data using database tools from multiple data sources.
  • Producing ad hoc requests for data, reports or research insights.
  • Developing the fundamental guidelines to ensure consistency across reports and dashboards.

Requirements

  • Analytical orientation. You will make decisions and recommendations based on your confidence in the data and your objective interpretation.
  • Capable of working as part of a multi-disciplinary team as required.
  • Comfortable looking at multiple facets of the business including user acquisition, revenue generation and user engagement.

Desired Skills & Experience

  • Highly proficient in MS Excel including pivoting and analysis modules.
  • Background in SQL.
  • Experience SSAS including cube design and interrogation using MDX a distinct advantage.
  • Highly experienced in BI tools including Tableau.
  • B.A. in Mathematics, engineering or other technical field is highly desired.
  • Experience in large data sets involving user behavior preferable i.e. gaming/online consumer industry is important.

SkillPages Engineering Introduce “The SkillGraph”

Editor’s note:  This is an update from the SkillPages Engineering Team, just to warn you it’s a pretty detailed technical insight into the technology we’re developing at SkillPages!

When you look for somebody to fix your sink you probably figure you need a plumber.  A handyman might do it, or maybe a janitor, even a drain cleaner could do the job.  Your brain does something amazing here: in split seconds it generates a cloud of many different skill names and professions, guiding you to the best match for the task.  Knowing what you mean and having an idea of how various skills are related is what makes the skill ‘search & matching engine’ in your head extremely powerful.

Moving Beyond Simplistic Mechanical Matching

People’s skills and expertise often do not fall into rigid categories.  People use different terms to describe their skills and these skill terms mean different things to different people (think painter of paintings and painter of houses).  This causes a problem.  Traditional online search uses keyword matching to connect a search term to search results.  But this doesn’t work effectively with skill search (a search for a “carpenter” will never return a “woodworker”).  To create a truly powerful, effective and useful online skill search utility, we need to move far beyond simplistic mechanical matching of keywords.  To capture all the variations and subtleties of skill search, we need something very different.  That is why the SkillPages Engineering team and UCD Clarity Research Centre have developed a unique technology called SkillGraph.

SkillGraph is at the very core of the SkillPages platform, underpinning everything we do.  Essentially it’s a market matching skill relevance engine that connects people looking for skills to people who have the relevant skills in a more accurate way than was previously ever possible.

How SkillGraph Works

Rather than rely on keywords, SkillGraph captures the meaning of skill terms used by members on SkillPages.  For example when an opportunity is created by a user on SkillPages, it is matched to people with relevant skills through SkillGraph.  This sees the terminology used in the opportunity “inflated” into a cloud of relevant terms.  This cloud is then instantaneously matched against equivalent clouds of words pertaining to each and every skill that members have added.  A relevancy threshold is used to identify only the most relevant skills and then those users are sent a notification about the opportunity relevant to their skills available for them on SkillPages.  Simplistically, this has the effect of connecting someone who is looking for a “pencil drawing artist” to an “illustrator”, a “roofer” to a “builder” and so on.

The SkillGraph algorithms are continuously evolved based on research and continuous behavioral and data analysis of our rapidly growing user base.  The underlying data sets are not just based on public data sources such as Freebase, Wikipedia etc. but rather; the real world data of our members – the people who know most about their own skills.  Using techniques such as Map-Reduce, we are able to mathematically decompose and model the probability of relationships and relevance of domain specific vocabularies and indeed cultures.

Having access to this incredible data is of limited value if it cannot be quickly channeled back into the platform for the benefit of our users.  Consequently, the entire SkillPages platform is designed to natively leverage SkillGraph to ensure that both individual and wide scale reclassification actions are instantly applied whilst maintaining the integrity and quality of the repository via feedback loops, moderation and spam detection.

Relevance is key – everything a user does on SkillPages from adding a skill, opportunity, profile, searching, browsing and opportunity matching, these are all driven from SkillGraph.

Finding The Best Matches

SkillGraph is rapidly developing as the definitive catalogue of all the world’s skills. The more data it gets, the longer its tail stretches.  However, to continue to gratify our users, we must ensure that even those at the tip of this tail are found.  Take for example an opportunity looking for someone “to make an interesting piece of furniture as a centerpiece for a back garden”. This is where the power of SkillGraph really kicks in.  Using the initial vocabulary as a starting point, SkillGraph can find many different skills to which this relates.  It not only makes obvious suggestions like “Furniture Maker” or “Landscape Gardener”, but also less obvious ones like Stonemason and even the highly obscure like Pooktre Tree Shaper.

Building a system that can organize all human skills, capture their relations and make them searchable in a meaningful way is not trivial.  In addition to software engineering challenges like scalability and keeping the latency low it requires a good grasp in disciplines like statistical analysis and linguistics. However, it’s very rewarding to see members gain success through SkillPages and our SkillGraph – it makes all the hard work worthwhile.

New Design And Features For SkillPages

Great news – SkillPages just got a whole lot better!

As Iain (SkillPages CEO) recently mentioned we’ve been working hard on a redesign and today we’re excited to unveil a whole new look for your skills.  The redesign includes new features to showcase your skills even better than before and new designs to make it easier to get your skills found.

Portfolio

Up until now portfolio updates were mixed in with all other activity on SkillPages.  This wasn’t ideal for people who just wanted to see examples of your work, so now you have a dedicated portfolio for each of your skills.  Build up your portfolio with images, files and videos for new customers and clients to browse.  Showcasing your skills is the best way to get contacted for new opportunities.

Opportunity Types

We’ve listened to your feedback about wanting to get contacted about relevant opportunities and added a new section to your skills.  Now you can let people know what type of opportunities you’re interested in and what your availability is.  This can be specified per skill, so you may want full time work with one skill but just one off opportunities for another – this is now clearly visible on each skill.  Furthermore you can add your level and experience to each skill, stating the amount of years you have been working in a particular skill and what stage you are at, from beginner through to guru!

Video Interview

When finding skilled people to trust a short video can go a long way in establishing this trust, letting people know a little more about you and your skills in a very personable way.  Stand out from the competition and tell people why they should choose you for their next opportunity!

You can find all the new features by viewing one of your skills.  Thanks to all those who have given feedback over the recent months.  We hope you like the new additions, if you have any questions or feedback please let us know in the comments.

SkillPages – A Powerful Resource

Editor’s note: This is part of a series highlighting member stories on SkillPages.  Brian McReynolds is a photographer from England and he sums up why SkillPages can work for people of any skill.

SkillPages for me is a neat tool for four reasons;

1. It allows me to showcase what I’ve been working on and I can broadcast it quickly to my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles.  Uploading photos to SkillPages really saves me time and it’s great to have a portfolio built up in one place.

2. It’s where I prefer to find people to collaborate with.  If I need a graphic designer or a model for a fashion shoot I know where to find someone. If I don’t have a suitable candidate in my direct connections I can see if any of my connections know someone.

3. I can find skilled people outside of my existing connections by creating an opportunity asking people to apply for a position.  This has the added advantage of finding many people who are interested in working with you and if they’re not suitable for that opportunity you have them in your network for future projects.

4. Then finally, it allows me to expand my network more actively.  First on a local basis arranging one to one’s to see if there is synergy of working on projects together, then branching out to the rest of the UK and expanding on business franchise operations I want to launch.

Bringing these four features together is a very powerful resource for me. Currently I do a lot of photography for local calendars and now with the help of SkillPages I plan to bring this to a national and even an international level.  On this project alone I’ve created opportunities for sales people and models.  I think SkillPages has something to offer people of all skills and that’s what is most exciting – the collaboration possibilities with all of these other skills.

– Brian McReynolds, Photographer

How do you use SkillPages? Let us know in the comments.

New Photos Gave Me The Confidence I Needed

Editor’s note: This is part of a series highlighting member stories on SkillPages.  Sam McFarlane is a free runner from Scotland, he tells us how he used SkillPages to find photographers.

A friend recommended I join SkillPages after seeing the benefits himself.  As a gymnast, free runner and all-round sports enthusiast, SkillPages is the ideal way of showcasing my variety of skills.  I’ve been practising free running for seven years and involved in a free running company called Axis Freerun for the last three years.  I recently decided I wanted some high quality images to increase my profile in the sport.

The next step was posting an opportunity for free on SkillPages searching for a sports photographer in Glasgow.  After a few weeks I had lots of replies and was able to set up numerous meetings.  Since then I have been working with one photographer in particular on a weekly basis.  It has worked out great for me, I couldn’t be happier with the new action shots for myself and for the company.  Through working with Barry I have since had the confidence to send my pictures to various parkour and free running magazines.

I would recommend SkillPages to anyone, I love how easy it is to set up your profile and look for job opportunities.

– Sam McFarlane, Free runner

Photos by Barry Cairns

Heads Up! A New Design is Coming…

We’ve been busy listening to your feedback!  For the past few months, behind the scenes, the team here have been working on new designs for SkillPages.  With so many millions of people having joined the SkillPages community and added over 5.5 million skills (wow, we still can’t believe it!), we feel it’s time for an upgrade.  With this new design, we’re going to “open up” SkillPages, making it faster and easier to search for skilled people, find the perfect skilled person for your need and to see your real life trusted connections to them.

For those of you who are looking to get found by people who need your skills, the new design will make it super easy to add your skills, create beautiful SkillPages and most importantly; make it easier for you to get presented with more opportunities that are relevant to your skills.

There are two major steps to the project.

  • Step one is intended to simplify SkillPages for everyone, making it easier to use, navigate and understand.  There will be a change in design in this step also, but mainly, we’re focused on making everything simpler.  This will start happening this weekend and continue with incremental changes until the end of April.
  • Step two is to add a new “presentation layer” to SkillPages.  This will make the usability of SkillPages much easier and enjoyable.  We’ve been prototyping some cool ideas and now we’re moving them into development.  Expect to see them on the site from early May.

We’re excited and impatient to get the new design and structure out to you.  We hope you like them and as ever, we love feedback and commentary so please, keep it coming.