About.me has always been about helping users to create a personalized profile page that shows them off in the best light. For much of its existence, that meant helping them to share their hobbies and interests and a little bit about their personalities. Today, though, the company is launching a new feature, called Backstory, that will allow them to share their professional and educational background.
It’s been a year-and-a-half since About.me spun back out of AOL, and the company is cranking along trying to find new ways that it can provide value for and engage with its users.
In some ways, that’s meant providing tools for users to engage with each other: Its Collections feature, which launched late last year, was designed to enable users to create a sort of “Pinterest for people.”
It has long enabled users to message and compliment one another, and it quietly created email signatures that could automatically be added to your Gmail or Yahoo accounts to help drive contacts to your About.me page. All those features have helped About.me grow at a rapid pace. Profile views for the second quarter were up more than 600 percent year-over-year according to co-founder and CEO Tony Conrad.
At the end of the day, About.me is all about your online identity and how it’s displayed to other users. That starts by providing a simple page with as much or as little information as you’d like to share with others. You can add your own custom background, description, and information about where you’ve lived or what your interests are.
Now the company is enabling users to add some historical work and educational information about yourself. With the launch of its new Backstory feature, About.me is hoping to change the way resumes are displayed, allowing users to show a little more personality and set themselves apart from the pack.
Adding a Backstory to your About.me page is easy: Users simply scroll below the fold of your page and fill in information about your recent work history, where you want to school and what you studied, and whatever special skills or interests you might have. You can change the background color to find one that you find more appealing, and pick from a bunch of famous, inspirational quotes one that might best define you.
After that’s done, you flip a switch and that Backstory will be added to the bottom of your About.me page.
According to Conrad, the company decided to add the resume information after it realized that some users, specifically college-aged users, were already using About.me as a resume of sorts. That is, they were passing About.me links instead of LinkedIn links to potential employers as a more unique representation of themselves.
“We know that most kids don’t look good on [LinkedIn] because they don’t have a lot of experience at that point,” Conrad said. While that product is great for those who already have a lot of professional experience, the product is less ideal for those who are just out of college, or freelancers, or people who are reentering the workforce after a long break.
“What we’ve done well is given people ways to present themselves… The problem with most job-seeking sites is that they don’t show people in the best light,” co-founder Ryan Freitas told me. “Backstory represents our perspective on how someone can tell their own story and look their best.”
By tacking their professional and educational history to a page that already has information about a user’s interests and activities, potential employers can get a better idea of who a person is, even if the actual resume part of their resume is somewhat thin.
While the About.me Backstory could provide an alternative to the kind of resumes you see on LinkedIn, Conrad says the company has no aspirations to compete against the professional social network. It doesn’t plan on introducing any sort or recruiting tools or anything of that sort — it’s going to remain focused on how can best help users present themselves to others.
Since spinning out of AOL, About.me has raised about $17 million from investors that include Foundry Group, True Ventures, SoftTech VC, Bullpen Capital, Google Ventures, and CrunchFund, which, of course, was founded by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington.