David Endean, founder of Passions and Talents, wants to tackle this by focussing on what excites people and what their strengths and humanistic skills (ability to teach, to analyze, to lead, etc.) are, instead of looking at mechanistic skills (degrees and certifications).
He built his own strength roles assessment that, based on 39 questions generates a personalized report with advice, tips, and insights to start your career search with confidence.
Here’s how he made it happen:
Who is David Endean and why did he start Passions and Talents?
David: “I’ve been working on Passions and Talents for just over a year now. The idea was born out of a personal struggle. I served for 5 years in the United States Coast Guard and the best part about that for me was working on small team dynamics and getting the best out of my team.
But when I got out of the military, there immediately was a gap in finding a new career. I simply couldn’t figure out what to do.
Luckily, I was connected to a mentor who put me through a series of different strength assessments and explained to me why my strengths matter. He taught me how to use that in my career search.
Through that process, I started finding a lot more direction and I realized that that is rare, that most people struggle to find jobs they actually LIKE.
And I think a lot of it has to do with how they search.
So I took the process of my mentor and started to automate it. I built a competency assessment with a backend that could generate a simple user guide for putting that knowledge into a career search. And that’s the start of Passions and Talents.”
What do you hope to achieve with Passions and Talents?
David: “Well, I don’t want to be a large business. I don’t want to seek venture capital and scale. At the simplest level, I want to help people find careers they love. Ultimately though, I want to help companies better define their culture through the talent acquisition process.
I want to build a small firm that does really good work in terms of helping people find careers they love. I hope to help companies define who they are and teach them why you don’t have to focus on mechanistic skills and educational experience.”
How did you turn your ideas into a reality?
David: “I looked at a few options. In Silicon Valley, everything is about building something that is entirely yours and about seeking venture capital and getting all this money to go into your company. Growth, growth, growth… That’s what you do. So that’s where my head started. I wanted a custom-built website and an entirely custom-made assessment.
Thankfully a friend looked at me and said “David, that’s insane. You’re going to waste all your money on this.” In fact, he was my developer and I was considering paying him a fair amount of money to build this idea. He advised against the fully custom route and stimulated me to find a better alternative.
So I went to Google Forms and Survey Monkey and they simply didn’t have the backend that I needed. Survey Anyplace was the next option I looked at and immediately the capabilities mentioned on the site made it clear to me that the possibilities of the tool were significantly greater than any other player on the market.
The customization of the assessment is amazing, it really looks like it’s a part of the website, the integration is seamless.
It’s those abilities, having a solid backend and the support of a knowledgeable team, that makes me believe there isn’t anything like it on the market. The fact that I can go in and keep tweaking things is ideal.”
What can people do with the assessment?
David: “The competency assessment lets people answer a set of question that measures 9 different key strength roles that exist in the workplace. They are indicators of how you are engaged at work. The job seeker is then provided a report that helps them extrapolate that knowledge and build it into a career search framework.
Based on your answers, it tailors a personalized report that gives you a deeper insight into who you are as a person.
What happens after people receive their report?
David: “The real insight for people comes with the second part of that PDF report. It contains a series of design thinking questions that help you reflect on your specific strength roles. It gives you a strong framework for an actual career search and serves as a guide in your resume writing, personal networking, job search, and interview process.
Right now, this is where the story ends for the customer. But come 2019 I’ll be branching out in two directions:
One is the option for people to have face-to-face or Skype-to-Skype interaction with me, where we walk through the entire report together.
On the other hand, you’ll start to see an implementation for employers. Job applicants can take the assessment in preparation for their interview, which has been paid for by the prospective employer. Prospective employers and job seekers will be able to have a conversation based on the humanistic skills listed in the report. It creates a common language.”
How do you promote the assessment?
David: “I’ve had some success with Google Ads and it’s been growing through organic search as well.
On social media, I try to drive awareness and push people to different portions of the site so that they can find their own way to the assessment in the end. On LinkedIn, for example, I’ve been focussing on simply creating personal posts.
My experience there is that, as long as your branding is on point and your use of hashtags is proper, you can gather a pretty significant number of impressions without putting any money into promotion.
I spent the first three days after the launch emailing nearly every person in my network. So a lot simply comes from referral, people taking the assessment and passing it on to their friends.”
What results are you getting so far?
David: “Once people are in, they’re invested in it, which is great.
At the moment people have to pay upfront before taking the assessment, which means they are invested and curious about the result. We will see how this changes when I move payment to the end, allowing people to take the assessment, getting a preview of their strength roles, then paying to get the full report.
Of the feedback that I’ve gotten, most users say that it is very insightful. It helps them understand themselves better and there is a useful knowledge in using this towards their goal of finding a career.
A college student, for example, explained that this redefined what she thought she needed to look for in her job hunt and helped her restructure her resume accordingly.
What is your biggest learning so far?
David: “That there’s never any point, especially early on in the process of building, where you’re going to be comfortable.
The process of growth and iteration is remarkably hard and if you’re not constantly learning or seeking knowledge or new ways to iterate and reach your desired user then it’s not going to go anywhere.”
What is your advice for people that want to get started with building an assessment the way you did?
David: “If you want to build an assessment, then before you start you need to have the content you want to put into it. You need to know what you want to get out of the assessment. As soon as you know what you want to get out of the assessment or what the respondent should get out of it, simply ask whether that’s possible to build.
Don’t be afraid to ask for capabilities. I was more than half expecting a “no”, contacting Survey Anyplace with my ideas. But the possibilities really are endless and working with the platform, where so much has already been built up for you makes it both significantly easier and a lot cheaper.
The math that I’ve done says:Based on what I’m paying Survey Anyplace, I can run my company for the next 20 years and it’ll still be cheaper than a custom built solution.”