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Updated: September 19, 2012 6:03AM



A Chicago-based website launching Saturday offers jobs seekers a way to capitalize on their social-media skills by using wordplay and crowdsourcing.

The site, GiveBrand.com, lets a job seeker’s friends, colleagues and even detractors post one- or two-word descriptions that highlight the person’s skills and personality traits.

The process creates the job seeker’s online “brand” — ideally, a profile that shows off creativity, teamwork, initiative and other hard-to-pinpoint smarts, rather than a list of job titles and descriptions, and more authentic insights than the job seeker could write about himself.

The website generates a “word cloud” so that as more people agree on a word — such as “teambuilder” or “trustworthy” — that word grows larger.

Nicole Crimaldi, founder and strategic content director at consulting firm MCG Media Inc., and an adjunct professor of career development at DePaul University, said she got a kick out of seeing descriptions of her such as “motivator” and “leader” balloon in size as she pre-tested the site.

“I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of highlighting those words about myself,” said the 28-year-old Wicker Park resident who blogs at MsCareerGirl.com. “The site can point out attributes about yourself that you might not have put in a LinkedIn profile. It is like having built-in references.”

People may weigh in on a job seeker’s profile with three actions:

** A tag — Writing a key word or phrase that describes the job seeker’s skills and traits;

** A ‘vouch’ — Clicking on a tag that someone else has already written to indicate agreement;

** An ‘endorse’ — Writing a note to describe one’s tag or vouch, such as ‘I was on Nicole’s team and watched first-hand as she led the account win.’

Crimaldi has become an expert in social media networking since she started her career-advice blog four years ago. She built her reputation by telling others about the blog, taking online marketing courses and speaking for free to alumni groups, university classes, professional associations and other gatherings.

Paige Worthy, GiveBrand’s content strategist, likes that her constantly evolving profile “feels fun, social and organic.”

“I can see my profile change and grow as people add on to it. It puts a social twist on your resume,” said the 29-year-old Lincoln Square resident.

She said she felt honored when friends tagged her with descriptions such as “connector” and “awesome.”

“I’m part of a big group of friends and I’m always thrilled to pass on work opportunities to them,” she said. “And how could I not like that someone tagged me with the word ‘awesome?’”

Worthy said GiveBrand is probably best for people who aren’t panicked to find recommendations, since the profiles expand over time.

The site allows networking, too, by letting users search for tags to find others with similar skills. Users also can share their profiles with recruiters, hiring managers and potential clients.

GiveBrand’s co-founder, Russ Trpkovski, said he wanted to let job seekers use their networks to “show proof of what they are about and what they’re good at.”

“A person’s brand is how others perceive you,” said Trpkovski, a Gold Coast resident who brainstormed GiveBrand with technical developers Boban Jovanoski of Germany and Dalibor Nasevic of Macedonia.

“Social recruiting is the future,” said Trpkovski, a Detroit native whose parents are from Macedonia and who learned computing skills at his first job at Electronic Data Systems. “We’re trying to take it to the next level.”

Liz Gerber, a professor of design and director of the Creative Action Lab at Northwestern University, said any public commentary — even by invited guests — has risks, since postings on people’s Facebook pages don’t always impress or look professional.

“There needs to be more transparency about who is doing the recommending,” she said. Yet Gerber said the Givebrand model dovetails with employers’ increasing demands for creative workers who can do more than assigned tasks.

“It demonstrates the job seeker’s ability to get others to join in an effort and give support,” she said.



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