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This article was published on September 6, 2016

Creepy software startup attempts to algorithmically score happiness at your current job

Creepy software startup attempts to algorithmically score happiness at your current job
Bryan Clark
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Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

Job searches are often done under the radar and out of the view of your current boss. A new startup wants to make your career search a bit more public, often at the detriment of current employment.

The startup, Joberate, scrapes publicly available information from millions of social signals — or buys it from other parties. If a job seeker starts following company Twitter or Facebook accounts, clicks through on articles about resume writing, or even starts making professional connections outside their current employer — Joberate knows. Once Joberate builds a profile on an individual, it starts assigning it a ‘J-Score’ that estimates the level of job search activity, much like a FICO score tries to determine creditworthiness.

Joberate CEO Michael Beygelman told The Washington Post:

Society has been able to quantify a lot of things about [people’s] life events. One thing we don’t really have much understanding of is job search activity. [Before], whenever someone resigned, it was a shock: ‘Oh my god, Mary’s leaving.’

Beygelman’s right, but there’s generally a good reason we don’t know someone’s leaving until they do: it’s none of our damn business. We make trade-offs with privacy for convenience, but Joberate offers us neither, at least at the surface. There’s utility here, sure. Joberate could point head hunters in your direction before you leave a job, thus securing an offer at a new company before ever having to eat through your savings while unemployed, or continue toiling away at your current place of employment.

Much like everything on the internet, you have to decide how much information you’re comfortable with exchanging for a largely intangible benefit. While 44 percent of American’s say they’ll update their résumés this year in the hopes of finding greener pastures elsewhere, only a small percentage of those will actually leave their current job. That leaves over 40 percent of the workforce at the mercy of an algorithm that could potentially score loyalty to their current company — a dangerous prospect for the working class.

Beygelman obviously sides with the benefit. I see the drawbacks. Where do you stand?

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