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Although we have not always publicized it, Drupal has been a large part of Brazen Careerist’s website for almost two years. It is one of the major reasons that we were able to grow so fast from a blog aggregator to a full-featured social networking site. Drupal has helped us grow into one of the premier up-and-coming career sites for young professionals.
Brazen Careerist breaks the mold of traditional recruiting and career sites like CareerBuilder, Monster, or even LinkedIn. We emphasize networking and ideas over experience as the primary way to get the job you want or succeed at the one you’re in. To do this, we’ve developed many cutting edge social-media features in Drupal 6 along with a restructuring of the traditional resume.
As a niche network, we have always focused on the quality of interaction between our users. Originally starting with blog comments, we eventually shifted to a Facebook/FriendFeed style feed.
The data shown when you first log into your account is customized specifically for you. We host many career- and interest-focused networks and corporate recruitment pages (Organic Groups), and if you join any of them, their content shows up in your feed. If you become a fan of someone (User Relationships), any content they post, comment on, or recommend (Voting API), shows up on your feed. We also bump content to the top of the feed when activity on it occurs, so that topics with heated conversations and ideas are more clearly visible.
Playing Nicely with Others
Another thing we’ve realized as a relatively new social network is that it’s a waste of time competing with the big guys. We want to offer a new experience, a new type of conversation, and make it easy for you to use your regular social networking sites. After all, pigeonholing yourself to one group or site is not a great networking principle, online or offline. So, we’ve worked hard at seamlessly integrating with sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
First, users have two options of registering and signing in to our site, via Facebook Connect or a standard Drupal login.
Second, when starting new conversations or posting updates, we allow users to update their Facebook, Twitter or Linked in status with the click of a check-box. These networks are where most of our users are hanging out when they’re not doing their professional networking on Brazen Careerist,. Furthermore, we have 2-way integration with Twitter, allowing our users to post to Brazen Careerist by using the #brazen hash tag.
Our latest release is a social twist on resumes. Besides the standard resume information like work experience and education, we allow users to highlight their own ideas that they feel best represent their professional brand. Using the Flag module, our users can pick posts from their RSS feeds, tweets or any other on-site content, and highlight it on their resume.
This social view of professional life is what makes Brazen Careerist stand out from other career sites. We realize that in a business world where an online presence is critical and people move from job to job, being able to showcase the way you see yourself and interact online will set you apart from the rest. This is even more important for younger job-seekers, who don’t have 20 years of experience or contacts to put on their LinkedIn profile.
Where We Go From Here
One of the biggest things we’re focusing on now is scalability and performance. We’ve been lucky to have grown extremely quickly (600% since August). We’ve learned about scaling issues in the past the hard way. For example, we found that aggregating the hundreds of thousands of nodes (user profiles, blog posts, conversations, tweets, etc.) just to display your personalized “conversation” feed is very expensive. So we built our own caching system to grab these, but need to do even more to get the speed of the site to match up with its capabilities. Besides adding extra servers, we use CacheRouter to employ APC and Memcache caches and have been working on reducing the number of cache clears.
We’re looking at ways to reconfigure our multiple server architecture to allow us to horizontally scale our database servers. We’re also switching from FeedAPI to Feeds to take advantage of PubSubHubbub. With FeedAPI, the import of 20,000 blog posts per month on cron is taking its toll on the rest of the site.
Because of our ties with a number of large organizations, we’ll be adding and improving our advanced administration, reporting, and security features for some accounts. These feature sets have their own challenges, especially while managing a full social network at the same time.
Finally, we want to contribute more! Our whole team feels strongly about this, but it’s easier said than done when there are deadlines in the way. We’ve contributed a few patches, but there’s a lot of technology behind our site that we would love to share with the rest of the community. Please contact me with any suggestions or ideas about how we can help more.
Brazen Careerist has been lucky to work with the most talented Drupal people in our area, Madison, WI. Our lead engineers, Blake Hall and Andrew Shell are extremely active in both the Drupal community and the local tech scene. Blake runs the Wisconsin Drupal User Group and organized an extremely successful DrupalCamp here. Andrew Shell is currently working on the all-encompassing web group in Madison (Web608), has lead the PHP User Group, and spent time with some great Silicon Valley startups. We’ve also worked with great contractors inside and outside of Madison (contact me if you want some great references). We’re always having a fun time out here so if you’re ever in town, stop by the Drupal group or by our office and get the full Madison tech experience!