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5 Unpopular (But Totally Relevant) Tech Skills

It's easy to stuff a resume with keywords detectable by Applicant Tracking Systems and hiring tools, but will robot recruiters know what the Voldemort...
  • Cat Martinez
    June 12, 2019 9:29:18 PM EDT . 5 min read

How do you find purple squirrels?

If you're a job recruiter, you've likely been frustrated countless times by the following scenario: A company posts a job opening, and you immediately jump on it. You do some searching on job boards, social media, and other sites, and a few good candidates with the right job skills show up; but they are the same candidates countless other job recruiters are also reaching out to. This heavy competition makes it hard to close positions and turns the job into a grind.

Somewhere further back in the results is a candidate who is a great fit for the job, but they don't have enough detail on their profile to appear high in the search. If you could identify this person, they would certainly be easier to get in touch with. How can you find these candidates? What if there were a way to rank candidates based on a full analysis of their job skill and experience profile rather than just building boolean keyword searches from a job description?


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As part of a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Steppingblocks has created such a job recruitment tool. Using a dataset containing more than 50 million working professionals in the U.S., we have built a rich platform that can analyze any job title, industry, company, university, or candidate at the level of their individual job skills and interests, revealing insights to help you quickly identify recruiting prospects without relying on primitive keyword searches. Data can give you an edge over the competition. Let's look at an example of how this might work.

"I need a React.js developer!"

Company X opens a position for a front-end web developer who is an expert in React, an increasingly popular JavaScript library created by Facebook. Searching for "react" will return the same candidates other job recruiters are competing for. How can data help you up your game?

Below is a screenshot of an example dashboard for this case which represents thousands of React developers from all over the country.

Purple Squirrel Image 1

In a glance you see some top schools and companies. This is very useful for candidates who don't have complete listings of their job skills online  if you know they used to work at a company where that technology was used then it's likely they will be familiar with it. On the bottom, we see a distribution of advanced degrees for React developers and when they graduated. In this case, most React developers are in the younger generation and have only graduated in the past five years.

That means if you are trying to fill a role for a React developer with at least 10 years of experience you will have a much harder time than if you can convince the client to consider a younger hire. The correlated skills section on the right shows the distribution of skills among these developers. This gives you a lot more to work with in regards to search terms, and you can get a sense for how important certain technologies are with respect to React.

These dashboards are fully interactive. For example, by mousing over skills you can see a description of what that skill is. Imagine having this dashboard open as a cheat-sheet while on the phone with a candidate. They tell you they haven't worked directly with React, but have experience with Angular and Node. See at a glance what those skills are and if they're relevant.

To learn more

This example barely scratches the surface of what this data can provide. These visualizations are fully customizable, and the data can be formatted a number of ways, including interactive dashboards, web applications, PDF reports and spreadsheets.

Home DepotNew HiresNeed another example? Here's a snapshot summary of the growth and employee distribution at The Home Depot.

If you're interested in using this technology in your company, please contact me at To learn more about how Steppingblocks is working in partnership with NSF and the Computer Science Performance Index (CSPI) to close the technology skills gap visit our page. The increased demand for AI and machine learning for recruiting can be solved by identifying the supply and demand of qualified talent.

Have data questions? Contact us!

What is Steppingblocks?

Research your future career with real-world stats about your major, your interests, and your job title. Turn billions of data-points into actionable insights about your future with a few simple clicks. Watch the video to find out how.

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