Careers 2.0 Launches

by Joel Spolsky

on February 23, 2011

One day, you’ll be telling your grandchildren about getting a programming job, version 1.0. You would send a “resume” to a “recruiter.” It included all kinds of silly information required by the esoteric resume ritual (foreign languages spoken, whether or not you play ultimate Frisbee, Microsoft-veteran status). This so-called “information” was utterly useless at determining whether you could program or not, but if you spelled everything right and used suitable fonts, you could come in for a day of interviews at which you would be asked to perform mundane programming tasks on a whiteboard.

Over here at Stack Overflow we feel a certain responsibility to make that process better for the millions of programmers who frequent our site. Our dev team in New York has been working day and night to rethink and rebuild our Careers section from the ground up, so today, we are excited to announce Careers 2.0. Here are some of the biggest changes we’ve made.

1. It’s free (to job seekers)… but invite-only.

We used to charge job seekers $19 to post resumes. That was supposed to be a basic sanity filter, to make sure that everyone in our system was really looking for a job.

You didn’t like that, and we had to agree. There are better filters than money. Starting today, posting a profile on Careers 2.0 is 100% free, but you have to be invited.

Invitations come from your peers. We'll give members a few invites to distribute to programmers they know and trust. Or, contribute to Stack Overflow (and our other sites), get voted up by a lot of smart people, and you may get an automatic invite.

By the way, if you paid in the past: thank you! Your account is free for life. But if you don’t think it was worth it, just email us for a full refund.

2. Profiles are much better

Our goal is that a Stack Overflow Careers profile should be the ultimate programmer’s portfolio. We’ve redesigned it to look great, and we’ve given you a clean public URL you can use as your professional home on the web (Here’s what mine looks like). Most importantly, we now let you choose your favorite answers which will appear right in the portfolio. You can pick the answers which best demonstrate your expertise. (Here’s mine. Don’t forget to vote it up!)

3. Support for passive candidates

Our goal is to help awesome programmers find great jobs. However, we've found that:

  1. People don't always want to signal that they're looking for a job

  2. A lot of candidates don't even realize that there are better opportunities out there

  3. Creating a complete profile is a lot of work

So, what we want is a way for people to be "passively" looking for a job—they’re willing to get an occasional offer from a company, even if they’re not actively looking for a job right now. And we want it to be frictionless, because if somebody is passively looking for a job then by definition they’re not going to do anything to seek it out.

Passive candidate search lets employers search people's public profiles based on tags and location. For example, they could search for “Python” and “San Francisco” and find a few dozen users who have "San Francisco" as their location and have answered questions in the Python tag. They can view their public profile information, including their top answers. Remember, we’re never revealing anything which isn’t already part of your public profile.

If they find a candidate they really like, the employer can request to contact them. We’ll notify that user in the Stack Exchange inbox that there’s an employer who is interested. That user can choose to receive the employer’s message, block that particular employer, or even block all employers. We’ll be watching this closely to see how it works and make sure it doesn’t become annoying or spammy, and we welcome your feedback on how best to serve passive candidates.

4. Much better search

Finally, we have completely revamped the way employers search. It’s much faster and cooler, and shows nifty statistics while you search, so, for example, when you say that you are looking for programmers in Chicago, you can instantly see charts breaking down the skills of Chicago programmers. Search for Ruby programmers, and you can see where they’re located on a map of the world.

You can test-drive the search interface for free, and see some sample profiles along with basic information about how many candidates match your search.  Of course, to see the full results you'll need to subscribe.

The future of jobs

In the future, automatic robot recruiters will use mental telepathy and nuclear fusion technology to get people the perfect jobs. When that happens, rest assured that those robots will be wearing Stack Overflow insignia, but until then, Careers 2.0 is a big leap ahead.