The job search process continues to rapidly evolve in California. Beyond the internet job boards, the evolving internet networking sites and the uses of social media for employment, crowdsourcing is emerging as a job search technique.

Crowdsourcing broadly is the process by which the internet facilitates communities of individuals coming together to address social or economic issues.  Cooltown Studios, a thoughtful website that covers crowdsourcing,  summarizes crowdsourcing  as “the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.”

Wikipedia is perhaps the most  well-known crowdsourcing platform. Individuals do not go through an admissions process or hiring process to participate in Wikipedia. Instead, they offer their ideas and research to address a perceived need of an online encyclopedia.

Kiva and Kickstart are crowdsourcing approaches. Through Kiva individuals interested in lending to micro-businesses or assisting micro-businesses are linked to aspiring businesses. To participate there is no admission or screening process. Individuals come forward and participate as lenders or advisors they see fit, and are rewarded as their loan choices succeed or as their ideas are taken up.

As discussed recently by NOVA Workforce Board Director Ms. Kris Stadelman and NOVA job counselors, increasingly crowdsourcing is finding its way into the job training/placement world through three avenues. The first is through internet sites that allow persons to compete on design projects or other tasks. An employer may post a request for a logo design, or request a solution to an apps problem.  Individuals voluntarily offer their ideas and labor.  Employment may result for one or more of the individuals through providing the “winning” solution, or through meeting other prospective employers or partners  through the crowdsourcing exercise.  Alternately, the participating individual may benefit in a job search from showcasing  problem-solving skills,  “Especially in the tech industry, employers want to see skills applications rather than traditional resumes; Show, don’t tell,” notes Ms. Stadelman.


A second approach is through crowdsourcing a job announcement or even the criteria of a job announcement. Companies are using social media, especially Twitter, not only to announce job openings, but also to seek ideas through crowdsourcing for the job description. A third approach of crowdsourcing for employment is a variant of this approach: job seekers are using crowdsourcing to obtain leads for their job search, or to critique their resumes, including video resumes.

“Crowdsourcing is the new interview”  Professor Panos Ipeirotis of New York University declares in a posting earlier this year celebrating crowdsourcing as an employment process.  Professor Ipeirotis celebrates the absence of the traditional interview process, and the fact that with crowdsourcing the evaluation is being done on the job. “The selection of the best participants happens naturally, without the artificial introduction of a selection process mediated through an interview”, writes Ipeirotis.

On the other side, crowdsourcing is not without its critics. It is characterized as an inefficient way of doing business for employers. It is characterized also as taking advantage of job seekers, as it requires job seekers to invest time that rarely is remunerated.

It is too soon to reach firm conclusions about crowdsourcing as a job search technique, as it in its early stages. Certainly it opens the door to worker exploitation, especially in the current employment climate of desperation. At the same time, like the other internet job search techniques, it breaks down traditional barriers to getting in the door. Further, it taps both into the entrepreneurship of individual workers, and the wisdom of the crowd.