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How Reputation Currency can Change the Resume


New ways of evaluating, reviewing work of others can help in a more dynamic and human way to help people find better jobs.

By: Tim Alberdingk Thijm

If you are employed today, you most likely had to fill out a resume, send in a cover letter, and hand in a portfolio or maybe a combination of all three.

Employers want to gauge the quality of their staff and see whether hiring someone will ultimately be a valuable decision financially. This is certainly not new: people, when making transactions among each other, always want to benefit from the decision. Whether it’s as an employee, looking to be well-rewarded for a good job, or as an employer, looking to get good work done at a reasonable cost.

On a large corporate scale, this is perhaps less noticeable through all the salaries, benefits and bonuses, but when we look at the new business platforms forming online today, connecting people on a small scale over websites like Kijiji, Craigslist, Taskrabbit, Zopa, or Skillshare, experts like Rachel Botsman are noticing a return to “old market principles and collaborative behaviors” that have been ingrained in human trade since the birth of writing.

The implications of these changes are manifold, and perhaps stand as a rebuttal to those who say the information era has disconnected us from humanity’s old social mores and customs. But one of the more interesting areas of these new business platforms that Rachel Botsman touches on in a recent TED talk, are the rating and review systems in place.

Consider reviewing a product on Amazon: in a review, one is recommending to other users whether or not the product is a worthwhile purchase. Most products on Amazon cannot be returned if they are in poor condition, so users must rely on customer reviews. Regardless of the quality of the review, there is still an element of trust involved: if someone chooses to purchase an item over another based on positive reviews, they are assuming the reviewers were telling the truth about the quality of the item.

This element of trust is even more important on new business platforms that, rather than connecting people with products, are connecting people with people – almost always, strangers with strangers. A person inviting someone into their home to walk their dog or do their laundry is trusting that person – who may be a total stranger at this point – based on referrals and recommendation.

While this can be done with resumes, CVs, cover letters and the like. The internet has given us the possibility of gathering this information online, creating a more dynamic portfolio to demonstrate the qualities and competencies of people looking for work – a “reputation trail” as Botsman calls it.

These online profiles, whether of the Superrabbit lawn care specialist on Taskrabbit or of the web designer on Skillshare, are ideal in the modern “knowledge economy.” The knowledge economy, as defined by Powell and Snullman in their paper, “The Knowledge Economy,” is “production and services based on knowledge-intensive activities that contribute to an accelerated pace of technological and scientific advance as well as equally rapid obsolescence.”

As David Skyrme describes it, this new economy is characterized by an abundance of resources – knowledge and information – which are shared amongst people rapidly. Knowledge is not limited by national barriers, but rather spread over a global network.

Nevertheless, as more recent or important knowledge has an inherently greater value than the older, less important knowledge, the competencies of workers are a crucial part in maintaining productivity and efficiency. A worker who can bring forward new ideas or knowledge with practical applications is much more valuable to a firm than a worker who offers nothing new.

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