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Ask a stranger

Ever think about what career you would really be suited for? I know I have. Unfortunately, we humans seem to be really bad at predicting what will make us happy, and according to psychologist Dan Gilbert, when you are faced with a choice, you would be better off asking unknown people who have been in a similar situation instead of listening to your gut instinct.

In the same vein, perhaps we can try asking strangers about our career choices? Path101 is an interesting career site that puts you through a personality test and then suggests careers for you based on the character traits the analysis engine estimates from your answers. In addition, you can get career advice by posting questions, anonymously or openly, to other users. The company calls this community powered career discovery.

Path101 will also analyze your resume and compare it to a database of millions (!) of resumes they have collected. The site delivers lots of interesting statistics about what personality traits tend to be correlated to which jobs, to which new careers people in a certain job tend to go, and so on. There is a lot more to be found if you poke around the site. The IT Conversations podcast did a nice interview with the founders of the company.

A similar though perhaps more light-hearted service is (not to be confused with an excellent machine learning site called!), which helps you make choices (big or small) by putting you through a quiz about the choice in question. After completing the quiz, you get a recommendation about how to choose. Apparently, Hunch has some sort of algorithm that learns about you while you use the site, so that you get progressively shorter quizzes before the system recommends a decision.

An interesting thing about Hunch is that it has an API, so you can integrate it into your own applications. I’m not sure what kind of application it would be useful for, but presumably someone will figure it out soon!

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