The rise of the vertical reputation graph

When’s the last time you sent out or requested a CV? Chances are it was quite awhile ago. In today’s reputation economy, we evaluate one another based on what people have done and how we’re connected. What you’ve built is becoming more important than where you’ve worked and the school you attended.

If you’re a professional applying for a job or an entrepreneur applying for funding, here’s how the typical evaluation process looks today. Someone will glance at your CV/resume/bio, then quickly turn to Google to track down your digital footprint. They’ll look at your GitHub account (if you’re a programmer) and any other links. Then, if they like your work, they may seek out your personal blog/Twitter to figure out if you’d be the right culture fit for the company.

In this process, the CV and its lines of text are pretty inconsequential. They are artifacts of an older time, before the Internet made it so easy for people to share their work with the world.

LinkedIn seems to be stuck in the middle of the old and new reality. The company is trying to modernize its product with groups and Influencers, but it’s very obvious that the platform’s roots are in resumes and recruiting and all other activities are built on top of a resume platform. For many of us, LinkedIn has never been much more than a database of stale resumes.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of start-ups try to carve away parts of LinkedIn by being the “LinkedIn for x” – where x ranges from doctors, teachers, finance professionals, academics, lawyers, engineers, etc. These vertically-focused platforms cater to the specific needs of their users, offering a close networking community around shared interests. They also give their users a better way to develop and curate their personal online brand beyond the LinkedIn resume.

One of the most obvious examples of the online portfolio is within the creative community. There’s no good way to share a portfolio of work on LinkedIn, which is why sites like Behance and Dribble have become popular among graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, web designers, and art directors.

Similarly, developers use GitHub as a public portfolio to showcase their best work, rather than a repository for half-finished projects. Recruiters and job ads now commonly ask for GitHub profiles. Spiceworks lets IT professionals add videos to help explain their experience to people without a deep IT background. On sites like Figure 1 (a V1 portfolio company) or Doximity (healthcare), ResearchGate (academia), and Casetext (legal), people are building their professional authority by helping others and answering questions.

LinkedIn still has the advantage of network effects and this won’t change anytime soon. However, the real threat for LinkedIn is that these hundreds of vertical platforms are becoming more and more relevant for their users on a daily basis than LinkedIn ever was. LinkedIn is the place where you dump your resume, while the vertical site is where you build your brand, spend your time, and actually network.

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