Archive for April, 2008

Life Beyond Keyword Search

April 30, 2008

There was a solid article on tech crunch about Nova Spivak’s claims that keyword search is about to break. (Click here) A line that rang true to me:

But anyone frustrated by the sense that it takes longer to find something on Google today than it did even a year ago knows there is some truth to his argument.

 And of course, the graphic:

Keyword search crashes into the ground

He mentions how Google relies on page links to judge popularity. The more data on the web, the less you want a popularity contest to pick your search results.  I would argue that this is already true for jobs, because there is a ton of data (Trovix.com has millions of jobs), and the number of links to those jobs won’t help you pick the best job for you. 

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Boolean Search Tips

April 29, 2008

Today, the ERE Exchange ran an article giving some tips on how to use Boolean search.  To me, it was just a great reminder of how bad Boolean search really is.

For example, if you want to see somone with a bachelor’s degree in science, you type:
           ((bachelor* AND science) OR bs* OR “b.s.”)
Sadly, that won’t find anyone from MIT or other schools that call the degrees “SB.”  And Stanford awards ABs instead of BAs. As clever as the Boolean string is, it doesn’t really get the job done.

Of course, if you’re a recruiter and want to see a resume of someone who went to a top school, has 5 to 8 years work experience, and has enterprise software experience, Boolean can’t do a thing for you. 

Boolean search for job seekers is an even worse idea. Think about looking for a sales manager job.  You might also search for area manager, sales representative, sales associate, business development and a dozen other titles. And you’ll still get back jobs selling cell phones, cars, software and life insurance. 

The good news is that the feedback we’re getting from job seekers and recruiters is that with our search, they don’t need to worry about Boolean any more.     

Hakia, Google Search and Why Search Can Be Better

April 24, 2008

Hakia (www.hakia.com) won an award for it’s semantic search technology, so I thought I’d check them out. They don’t really compete with us, by the way.  They have a nice write up on some of the problems they see with Google search.  (Click Here)  I pretty much agree with them that popularity is a bad way to rank results.  Some good sources aren’t popular.  Lots of popular sources aren’t good.

But the thing they don’t say about the problem with search is that for most search tools, people start by describing what they want to see.  If you want to know about Winston Churchill and the Boer War, that’s great.  But if you want to know who’s interested in hiring you, what do you type?  

The Trovix approach to search is to use semantic search, machine learning, and matching algorithms to provide truly breakthrough search.  We take a much more complex query than the two or three words people usually type into a search box.  We can handle search queries with thousands of terms, weights on each one, and combine that with a search profile for the individual user.    And we use that to search for the best matched data. 

Better search is going to have to come from better queries. Whether those are explicit (written by the user at the time of the search) or implicit (inferred from information already known at the time of the search), something has to give. The one-size-fits-all one line search box isn’t going to work for helping people make sense of the world’s data. 

Google Celebrates Earth Day

April 23, 2008

It looks like Google shut down an eco-friendly search engine on Earth Day. (Click Here) To be honest, I’m on Google’s side of this one. The story is that they were fronting Google search results with their own ads and then promising to plant trees if they make money.  Sounds specious.  I hadn’t been following the whole eco-friendly search engine thing, but it sounds like there are plenty of companies jumping on the bandwagon.  Like the guys that have the background be black instead of white to save electricity.  

I guess the internet is a great playground for people trying to make a buck without actually trying to make a product.  Perhaps these guys should try to get honest jobs. (I know a great website that could show them great search results: www.trovix.com

Funny to Me.

April 22, 2008

Here’s something to spend a few minutes watching.

I like to think about the fact that someone has the time to spend to make something this offbeat.  I barely have time to blog. 

Popular Mechanics Predicts Death of Google

April 17, 2008

Everyone loves to predict that the king will die. 10 years ago, Java was going to kill Microsoft by now.  Since Google is now king, they’re the one to bash. This time, Popular Mechanics makes the bold call: Social Networks will kill Google. 

Since we’re a search company, I feel free to opine in this. My take: Popular Mechanics is wrong. And they miss the point.

Here’s how it is. With Google, you describe what you want to see, and Google shows it to you.  (Phone numbers, addresses, information about Mariah Carey.) This is good and bad. Search for “Alcohol is good for you” and you get a whole different list than “alcohol is bad for you.”  The web will confirm whatever you believe. 

The bigger problem is that Google can’t show you what you can’t describe: a good movie for me, a fun site for when I’m bored, the right job for me.  But Facebook can’t really do that either. It might show you what movies your friends like.  But that isn’t search. Is there any point in looking at jobs your friends like? Or houses if you’re house hunting.  

If the Internet is only about entertainment, then social networks can replace Google for finding you fun places on the web. But there will always be room for deep search technology to pull real information out of the Internet. That’s what Trovix does. 

Back from Vacation

April 16, 2008

Wow.  A week in Hawaii is a great reminder that as fun as work is, it’s not quite the same as catching a good wave or drinking a Mai Tai at sunset.  Sadly, Trovix.com was able to confirm that there aren’t any good jobs for me in Hawaii.  The number 3 job, posted as being in Honolulu, requires relocation to New Jersey.  Good luck with that one.   

Looking for a job? Throw a party!

April 8, 2008

I’ve got to say that I felt a little tricked by this advice column headline. (Kick your job hunt into overdrive with a party.) She tells someone who’s having a hard time job hunting to throw a party.  I couldn’t agree more.  I love parties. Although I wonder how much fun a desperately unemployed person is going to be to hang out with.

But the description of the party made me shiver. Talk about awkward.  Hand out business cards with a resume on the back.  Provide a guest register so you can get their phone numbers and hound them.  Aren’t these your friends?

My advice would have been serve great wine, awesome food, and tell hillarious stories. Remind these folks that you would be fun to have around the office, and that you’re in no way a threat to their next promotion.

But flip advice is specifically why I don’t get to be an advice columnist.

Good News on Employment Numbers

April 4, 2008

Being at a start-up, I always cheer the little fish that swims against the stream.  So, I very much appreciate the news from a CPA in Ohio who points out that actually, employment is going up.  Way up!   It turns out all the doom and gloom numbers are based on the seasonally adjusted employment, which is down.  But the total number of working people is up by hundreds of thousands.  So if you’re looking for the silver lining in the job numbers, it’s that there isn’t a cloud!  On the other hand, if you’re looking for a job, may I suggest www.trovix.com?

New York Times on Employment Screening

April 3, 2008

The New York Times has an article on employment screening and assessment. It’s about the tests some companies give to people they’re considering for employment and promotions.  Most of the recruiters I’ve talked to lately complain a lot about not being able to find good people, or not being able to talk them into changing jobs.  So I really wonder what kind of companies are using these tests.  For minimum wage jobs, it seems like a lot to invest in testing for someone who will be around for six months.  For more experienced positions, you’d think the person’s references and resume would tell you what you need to know. If someone has 15 years experience being an accountant and great references, won’t the test tell you the person is an accountant? 

On the other hand, the robot company test sounded kind of fun.  And when robots take over the world, I’m sure it will be useful to have had some experience working for them, even if it’s only simulated.