Geek Speak: Jocelyn McLean, Sokanu

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      Jocelyn McLean says LinkedIn can help you find a decent job, but Sokanu can lead you to the right career.

      McLean is the 24-year-old communications coordinator for Sokanu, a Vancouver-based tech startup building a “career discovery platform that helps people find their passion in life”. Founded in 2010 by CEO Spencer Thompson, Sokanu went into alpha last spring and public beta in October. The company has seven employees and over 20,000 users, according to McLean, who lives on the West Side.

      The Georgia Straight reached McLean by phone at Sokanu’s office in Gastown.

      If you’re already on LinkedIn, why would you join Sokanu?

      LinkedIn is a job-focused site and it’s a networking site as well, so it definitely has strong value in terms of listing your experience and your skills and making connections to other people. You also have the ability to find jobs through LinkedIn and discover new opportunities that way.

      We’re actually not a job site at all. We’re a career site. Our interest isn’t really in getting people from Step A to Step B. Our interest is in helping people learn more about themselves and what they’re meant to do. Once they understand that, they’re able to understand how they can get there.

      They answer questions about themselves—their interests, values, and skills—to get a better understanding of their own character and their own compatibilities within the career sphere. Then we connect them to careers that they’re compatible with.

      Are people able to find jobs through Sokanu?

      At this point, no. We don’t have any job postings at all.

      How does Sokanu plan to make money?

      Right now, we’re investor-funded. We’re hoping to move into revenue streams soon. We’re working with career services centres in communities across North America. But we are working out the details of our next step.

      Right now, we’re primarily a career discovery site, so the career test is primarily what we have right now. But eventually we want to be a full-scope career site. So it won’t just be: “Here are some ideas of what you can do and here is information about those things.” But it will be: “This is who you are, this is where you are right now, and this is where you want to be. What are the steps you need to take to get there?” So, in terms of revenue stream, I’m sure we’ll integrate things into that process—the process of getting not from Step A to Step B like a job site might do, but Step A to Step Z.

      How does it figure out what career is right for a user?

      Our platform is powered by what we call our “career genome project”. What we’ve done—and this has never been done before—is we’ve taken a database of over 500 careers, and we’ve broken them down into 52 “genes” or characteristics. So we’ve broken them down into personality traits—almost like people. Then what we actually do is, similar to a dating site, we match people based on those characteristics. If you take the test on the site, you’ll see a breakdown of your own personality traits—so introversion versus extroversion, your skills in reading and writing, your interest in spending time outdoors, or your interest in animals—and we match you to careers based on how those careers are also broken down.

      What’s next in the works for Sokanu?

      Our most recent release is our new career pages. These are really incredible, because what they manage to do is something no other career site has done at this point. What they do is they not only show information, such as growth expectations and average salary, but they show firsthand reviews from our members and also the average happiness rating across our platform. When members have experience in a career in the past or currently, they are able to rate and review that career. Members can read those reviews and read member career stories, so they can understand what it’s like to work within a certain field. That’s something that hasn’t been done before.

      Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? You can tell Stephen Hui on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.