by Andrew Brown
CEO, ExamPro Training & AWS Community Hero
June 17, 2021
P.S. I just want to frontload this article to ask you what is your opinion about the new professional network? I'd love to read the comments. I want to get the conversation going so this is why I wrote this long form post.
What is Polywork?
Polywork is a professional network, and it could be described as an alternative to LinkedIn though It would be better to compare them as the following:
- LinkedIn — A resume directory with a social-professional network built adjacent to your resume profile.
- Polywork — A historical professional portfolio or journal that also is the social-professional network.
I think the co-founder was previously a designer at Google, and the marketing and onboarding give you a strong impression that UX is this team's immediate strength.
UX alone is not enough, so let us dive into a few thoughts about this new platform.
What can I do in Polywork?
Polywork as of the time of this article is incomplete. They are slowly bringing users into their network via invites and with a strong feedback loop, ensuring the features they engineer will deliver on their service's core principles.
What you can currently do:
- create a profile
- choose an AI assistant
- create posts to your professional timeline (you can backdate to anytime)
- follower other users
- contact other users via strictly defined opportunities
What you cannot do:
- you cannot like a post
- you cannot comment on a post
- you share a post to your professional timeline
- you cannot see public metrics about posts
Some of these "cannots" I think, are by design, and others are latent features yet to be released. I think we can expect to see commenting, and I think Polywork may decide not to have likes or show metrics.
The latter is a strong possibility when we see Instagram talking about giving its users the options to hide mentions and metrics.
This stems from being socially aware of the negative effects on a user's mental health when putting too much value on social media statistics.
Who is Polywork targeting?
Superficially speaking, it would look like Polywork is building a professional network that strongly appeals to the aesthetics of young professionals eg. influencers, developer advocates, designers, hustlers, lifestyle entrepreneurs, models and musicians. So far, these have been the early adopters.
It is important to put aside the presented aesthetic and talk about the function and future of resumes because it becomes apparent that this network is for everyone.
A resume is a pdf you email to a company, but another way to see is that it is a protocol (standardized method of communication)
A resume is job-history-oriented, and the we verify an applicants authenticity is via the resume protocol:
- analyze the written composition of the resume for anomalies
- references for a third-party attestment
- interrogate an applicant against their written content at a per task level
Shifting from Job-Oriented to Activity-Oriented
With a resume it primes the hiring manager or recruiter to use job-history oriented as the filter:
- Is this person switching jobs too frequently?
- Does this person have gaps been workplaces?
The problem with this kind of analysis is that these are superficial concerns and do not tell if an applicant is qualified. Also, it does not adapt to the market as a whole such as:
- more people want only to be part-time to be their own entrepreneur
- companies are offering fewer full-time roles
- companies are offering less long-term stable roles
- the rise of a generation who knows how to produce public-facing content
- the rise of a new global workforce from developing countries and not sticking to resume norms
Wouldn't it be more valuable if you could filter and explore activities?
If you still needed a summary, wouldn't it be nice if an AI could be trusted to generate the cliff notes from sourced materials?
Change of the Composition of Resumes
AI is becoming more accessible and valuable. Look at GPT3 and CopyAI, and it is getting good at generating content that is indistinguishable from human-generated content.
What happens when your entire resume can be spoofed by AI and cannot be discerned as being generated by AI with another AI?
You will need more granular information to show where information has been sourced from.
References have not been legitimate for years. Anyone can pretend to be your reference; anyone can endorse your work without tangible proof.
People on LinkedIn will endorse me as being knowledgeable with AWS. The reason they endorse me is that I help them pass their certification exam. It would be more useful if the proof of endorsement was tied to an activity such as posting their cloud certification, which I helped them obtain through my free study course and then associated it with me.
In LinkedIn, you can kind of replicate this by mentioning people on a post in the LinkedIn public time-stream, but it becomes eventually lost since it cannot be easily filtered because LinkedIn social network with adjacent, not your resume.
Opportunity-based instead of Spam-based
Direct Messaging on LinkedIn, on the whole, is people messaging you for unsolicited services. It has us treat every connection or relationship with suspicion and apprehension.
Polywork has fives messaging a purpose before being sent to a target user, and this is the first big step to cut down on spam.
I could see them expanding this feature with their AI assistant to assess whether the sent message is genuine, meaningful and a wanted communication, and the system could quickly penalize unapologetic spammers via an internal karma system.
It could also be that activity tags could be associated with contact types. This would allow contacting users to be forced to understand the context of what they are messaging for and do their homework to understand if there is genuinely is alignment.
Can't LinkedIn copy these features like how they can copy Instagram User Stories and Clubhouse audio chats?
LinkedIn could replicate these features, but the fundamental way their social network works like connections and resumes profile the public live stream, these features would be subject to exploit that render them not as valuable.
LinkedIn would be better off acquiring or partnering with Polywork and position themselves as a job board and resume platform.
LinkedIn Resumes are not useless, but their value and purpose are going to change, and LinkedIn is not positioned to deliver on Resume 2.0
What does this Polywork have to do with developers?
The normal combination today for developers applying to a job is Resume + LinkedIn + Github.
Learning in public like #100DaysOfCode and #100DaysOfCloud challenges help provide structure around these proof of work.
Github is great that it you can use a repo as a journal, but even for 100DaysOfCloud I have to tell people take those entries and tie social proof to them like on Twitter on LinkedIn and we don't have useful social-relationship metadata with these github entries for discoverability.
I can't tell you how many people completed the 100DaysOCloud challenge, I can't find journals github unless people self-submit, I can't consistent filter to find the 100th day on Twitter or Linked since people are inconsistent with tagging.
Polywork can make solve all this in one package and I think that will be better for developer communities for their proof of work.
How does DEV fit with Polywork?
DEV has a user profile that can be customized, but I think Polywork can allow you to showcase your best work, and by being selective of posting your best DEV articles into your Polywork timeline. Rich relational metadata can built ontop of your content.
I don't see Polywork replacing DEV for dicussion, because DEV is a forum quasi-blog which excels for more in-depth and long-form discussion.
There is more to Polywork that I did not have to cover: like
- community building
- content discovery
- user and relationship discovery
- professional identity 2.0
But I want you to know that Polywork is not just for young professionals; it's for everyone, and whether you decide to use it today, tomorrow or three years or five years from now, it will become a valuable tool you will use at some point.
My recommendation is if you are not yet ready to adopt, sign up and get your handle, so when you are ready, you aren't andrewbrown543242.
- Check out https://www.polywork.com
- You want your first follower?
- Follow me at https://www.polywork.com/andrewbrown
- I'll be sure to give you a follow back!
Want to check out Polywork? You can use this link to skip their waitlist