WYGU wants to be a Facebook-for-careers-advice

WYGU (When You Grow Up) has launched as a “Facebook for careers advice” – that’s their words not mine – and offers a mix of “social careers guidance”, development and e-mentoring. It’s founded by Alun Baker and is backed by £350,000 of Angel funding, which Baker says he’s matched.

The UK site’s noble aim is to help people avoid the trappings of what WYGU calls an “accidental career”, a familiar situation for many whereby they fall into a particular job or career without it being something that they’re passionate about but, ultimately, end up being stuck doing.

At the heart of WYGU is the site’s Matching Engine, which is designed to assess an individual’s suitability for between 10 to 100 careers automatically against over a million variables – think of it as someone’s career DNA. This basically involves asking users upon sign-up to take part in a lengthy questionnaire that asks them to rate themselves on attributes related to their cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, physical and sensory qualities.

So, for example, how creative they deem themselves to be, or whether or not they always finish tasks that they’ve started. It’s all very subjective stuff and it’s arguably unlikely that users will downgrade themselves on such core attributes, which could pose a problem. WYGU also says that the engine is able to get smarter over time via data amassed through the site’s crowd-sourced WYGUpedia, a user-generated source of career-related information.

Another key aspect of WYGU is the way it supports e-mentoring in the belief that having a mentor would benefit everyone at various stages of their career development. Moving this process online is obviously a lot ‘cheaper’ too – access to WYGU is free – and less time consuming for both the mentor and ‘mentee’.

That said, getting quality mentors to volunteer their time might still be an issue and the site makes an attempt to tackle this through what it calls Personal Social Responsibility (PSR) ‘league tables’, which display the top individual and corporate contributors by industry over any given period. Whether or not this will be enough to sustain regular mentors I’m not convinced, although WYGU obviously thinks that it’s on to something given that it’s trademarked the term PSR.

As for the whole career matching aspect of WYGU, it’s worth mentioning PathMotion, which launched in May this year (see our coverage). The Paris-based startup is targeting students and young professionals in the UK with a mix of career guidance and job vacancies. In fact, targeting recruiters seems like a next logical step for WYGU too, should the site go on to achieve scale. However, that would also put them to some degree in competition with ‘social recruitment’ startups like BraveNewTalent, which recently launched an app on Facebook itself that lets you build a professional profile, see who your friends work for or want to work for, and follow specific companies.