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How to get a competitive advantage using crowdsourcing

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Crowdsourcing has grown as a medium for innovation since the introduction of ‘information superhighway’. In a nutshell, crowdsourcing is the gathering of people online to share knowledge and experience. Crowdsourcing is different to networking as it involves reaching out to total strangers. You can create a crowd from your own network too but the idea is to reach further than that to inspire originality.

We have crowdsourcing to thank for the world’s first pizza museum, grizzly bear coats and the grilled cheesus sandwich press. All ridiculous and only slightly unnecessary consequences of Kickstarter campaigns but crowdsourcing also has more practical applications.

Lior Zoref, the author of Mindsharing: The Art of Crowdsourcing Everything, argues that harnessing the power of the global village can help you make smarter and better decisions. Could you also use this to benefit your career?

Design your career using the crowd

Crowdsourcing can help you to apply some design thinking when planning your career. Following your passion is never a good plan. Instead, follow your curiosity by talking to communities online that are in professions that excite you. Get involved in their discussions, pick their brain on areas that interest you, and use your experience and enthusiasm to help solve common challenges.

One example of an active online community for professionals is Kaggle. It’s the world’s largest online hub for data scientists, statisticians and machine learning engineers and regularly hosts competitions that attract the most talented, passionate people from all backgrounds. Platforms like Kaggle offer a great platform for figuring out your next move.

Crowdsource your CV

There are a number of ways that your CV can be enhanced by the online community. Quora allows you to ask millions of users for advice, or peruse the thousands of answers to existing questions instead. How can I describe my ability to effectively communicate? How do you sell what you did well, instead of what you did? Ask the Quora community.

If your CV is missing a key piece of experience, you can once again use crowdsourcing to build up your profile and develop your skills. Joining sites like Elance, UpWork and Freelancer allows you to carry out projects that will build your personal brand. Producing high quality work can also attract employers.

Crowdsource your interview prep

At this make it or break it stage it’s vital to have an unfair advantage, something that separates you from the other candidates. With crowdsourcing, inside information is easily accessible, if you’re willing to work for it.
To find the right people you need to go to where the employees hang out. Search LinkedIn groups, follow Tweet chats, join relevant meetup events or online forums. Identify the contacts you need to speak to and politely grill them for tips.

Common interview questions are available on Glassdoor. Indeed also has several forums dedicated to interview questions across all industries and companies. This will help you deal with off the wall questions if they come up.

Your career path is not going to be linear and it’s not always going to make sense. This can be a distressing prospect, especially if you’re just starting your career. There are thousands of people online who have shared this experience and calling on them can benefit you enormously. It can expand your network, introduce you to new interests or it could even set you on an entirely new path you might never have imagined.

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