How to Get Them a Dream Job - SIGKDD

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How to Get Them a Dream Job? Entity-Aware Features for Personalized Job Search Ranking Jia Li University of Illinois at Chicago 1200 W Harrison St Chicago, IL, USA [email protected] Dhruv Arya LinkedIn 2029 Stierlin Ct Mountain View, CA, USA [email protected] Viet Ha-Thuc LinkedIn 2029 Stierlin Ct Mountain View, CA, USA [email protected] Shakti Sinha LinkedIn 2029 Stierlin Ct Mountain View, CA, USA [email protected] ABSTRACT This paper proposes an approach to applying standardized entity data to improve job search quality and to make search results more personalized. Specifically, we explore three types of entity-aware features and incorporate them into the job search ranking function. The first is query-job matching features which extract and standardize entities mentioned in queries and documents, then semantically match them based on these entities. The second type, searcher-job expertise homophily, aims to capture the fact that job searchers tend to be interested in the jobs requiring similar expertise as theirs. To measure the similarity, we use standardized skills in job descriptions and searchers’ profiles as well as skills that we infer searchers might have but not explicitly list in their profiles. Third, we propose a concept of entity-faceted historical click-through-rates (CTRs) to capture job docu- ment quality. Faceting jobs by their standardized compa- nies, titles, locations, etc., and computing historical CTRs at the facet level instead of individual job level alleviate sparseness issue in historical action data. This is particu- larly important in job search where job lifetime is typically short. Both offline and online experiments confirm the ef- fectiveness of the features. In offline experiment, using the entity-aware features gives improvements of +20%, +12.1% and +8.3% on [email protected], MRR and [email protected], respec- tively. Online A/B test shows that a new model with these features is +11.3% and +5.3% better than the baseline in terms of click-through-rate and apply rate. Categories and Subject Descriptors H.3.3 [Information Search and Retrieval]: [Search pro- cess] Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than the author(s) must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, or republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from [email protected] KDD ’16, August 13 - 17, 2016, San Francisco, CA, USA c⃝ 2016 Copyright held by the owner/author(s). Publication rights licensed to ACM. ISBN 978-1-4503-4232-2/16/08...$15.00 DOI: Keywords Information Retrieval; Learning-to-Ranking; Personaliza- tion 1. INTRODUCTION Traditional information retrieval systems, and partic- ularly Web search engines, have focused on keyword- matching. In this search paradigm, users typically input their information needs as a set of keywords and the search engines match the keywords with documents and use some additional signals, such as document popularity (e.g., doc- ument historical click through rate, PageRank etc.) to find relevant documents. This paradigm makes it very simple and easy for users to use. Moreover, it allows the efficient retrieval of documents at the Web scale. However, while this paradigm has been effective for the majority of the queries on generic Web search engines, it does not work that well for LinkedIn job search. In our use case, user information needs are typically rather complicated. For example, when a user issues query “software engineer Cambridge Microsoft”, he or she does not mean to find a job that its description con- tains these keywords. Instead, he or she looks for a job with title software engineer at company Microsoft in Cambridge city. Thus, it is important to understand the structure of the information need. Moreover, even if we can structure the query as above, it is still unclear which city does “Cam- bridge” refers to. Even assuming we know that “Cambridge” refers to the city in Massachusetts (USA), there could still be plenty of Microsoft software engineer jobs in the city. In this case, which specific ones match best with the user’s interests and expertise? Thus, it is crucial to go beyond keyword-matching when scoring documents to provide per- sonally relevant results on LinkedIn job search. Semantic search, on the other hand, represents informa- tion needs and documents in a structured way and semanti- cally matches the information needs with the documents. A challenge with semantic search is that it is typically difficult for an end-user to describe his or her information need in a semantic representation. Moreover, semantic search is often restricted by concepts and relations predefined in a knowl- edge base. Thus, it does not scale well to open and dynamic document sets like the Web. This work aims to bridge the two search paradigms to make LinkedIn job search experience more relevant and per- sonalized yet still simple to use while keeping it efficient at the Web scale. From a user perspective, he or she is still able to describe their information needs in a free-text form. Given user queries, we extract and standardize the entities, such as, job title, company, skills and location. On the doc- ument side, we leverage standardized entities mentioned in job descriptions and include them in the search index. Based on the standardization information, we construct entity- aware features matching queries and documents as well as entity-faceted historical CTR features capturing global doc- ument qualities (query-independent). Moreover, as men- tioned in the motivating example above, even when a query is perfectly understood, the query is not enough to represent user information need. To overcome this issue, we leverage standardized skills in members’ profiles and job descriptions to capture searcher-job expertise homophily. For instance, if the searcher is a machine learning expert, he or she will be more likely to apply for software engineer jobs focusing on machine learning domain rather than on software system infrastructure. Thus, the ranking function should rank the former higher than the latter. Finally, to combine these fea- tures, we apply learning to rank technique to automatically learn a personalized search ranking function. We conduct offline and online experiments on LinkedIn job search. Our experiments confirm the benefit of using standardized entities in the ranking function to make job search results more relevant and personalized. Specifically, in offline experiment on randomized data, a new model with the proposed features improves over the baseline without the features +20%, +12.1% and +8.3% in terms of [email protected], MRR and [email protected], respectively. Online A/B test shows that the features can improve click-through-rate and apply rate, the two most important metrics of the product, +11.3% and +5.3%, respectively. At the time of this writing, the new ranking model has served all of LinkedIn job search traffic. The main contributions of this paper are the following: 1. Proposing a new approach to incorporating entity data into personalized ranking functions for job search. Specifically, we propose three classes of entity-aware features including: • Query-job matching: Extract and standardize en- tities mentioned in queries and documents, such as, job titles, skills, companies and locations. Then, construct features matching queries and documents based on these entities. • Searcher-job expertise homophily: Analyzing log data, we discover that job searchers tend to be interested in the jobs requiring similar expertise as theirs. Thus, we propose features capturing searcher-document expertise homophily based on the standardized skills in job descriptions and users’ profiles as well as the skills that members might have but not explicitly list. These features make results more personalized to the searchers. • Job historical CTRs: We introduce a concept of entity-faceted historical CTRs to capture job document popularity. Job documents are faceted on job attributes like company, title or location. Then, historical CTRs are computed as the facet level to overcome data sparseness issue. 2. Presenting practical challenges when deploying the entity-aware features in LinkedIn job search engine such as ambiguity, missing values, sparseness, param- eter tuning, scalability, online efficiency, biases in log data and how to combine the new features with ex- isting ones in an optimal way as well as solutions for these challenges. 3. Experimenting and demonstrating significant bene- fit of using standardized entity data for personalized search ranking in an industrial setting serving hun- dreds of millions of users. The rest of the paper will be organized as follows. Section 2 reviews related work. Section 3 presents query-document matching features based on standardized entities in queries and documents. Section 4 discusses searcher-document fea- tures capturing expertise homophily. Section 5 details how we construct entity-faceted historical click-through-rate fea- tures. In Section 6, we present a learning-to-rank approach to combine the proposed features and the existing ones. Of- fline and online experimental results are discussed in Section 7. Finally, concluding remarks are in Section 8. 2. RELATED WORK 2.1 Semantic search Semantic search has been an active research area recently. Generally speaking, semantic search uses semantics to make search systems more effective. More specifically, semantic search approaches extract semantic meanings and structures from search queries and documents and exploits them in search process [6]. The main approach to semantic search typically represents queries and documents in a structured way and applies semantic query languages like SPARQL [19] to retrieve results. SHOE system [12] is one of the early work in this di- rection. It annotates Web pages with semantic informa- tion. On query side, users specify their information needs based on nodes and relations in an ontology. Swoogle [8] and Corese [4] are Semantic Web search engines. These en- gines store documents in Resource Description Framework (RDF) format and provide structured query languages to re- trieve the documents. Similarly, Zhong et al. [28] represent queries and documents by conceptual graphs then propose an ontology-based matching algorithm estimating the simi- larity between a query and a document. A common problem of these approaches is that it is chal- lenging for end users to specify their information needs in such structured ways [24]. Also, these approaches are often restricted by concepts and relations predefined in ontologies. Thus, they do not scale to open and dynamic document sets like the Web [7]. Moreover the algorithm matching queries and documents in the structured representation are typi- cally computationally expensive. Thus, it is challenging for industrial search engines to apply them in real time at the Web scale. 2.2 Enhancing traditional IR with semantics Another research direction related to our work is using semantic technology to enhance traditional keyword-based information retrieval. Guha et al. [9] propose an approach to improve keyword-based search by using data retrieved from the Semantic Web. Specifically, given a text query, the terms in the query are then mapped to nodes in the Seman- tic Web. They also propose heuristics to resolve ambiguity when mapping. Then, the nodes are used to augment the query. SemSearch [24] also allows users to specify their in- formation needs by free text. Then, it maps the terms into classes, properties or instances in a knowledge base. A novel aspect of the work is that for a query containing multiple terms, the whole semantic meanings of all of the terms are taken into account. Fernandez et al . [7] introduce a new ar- chitecture to scale semantic search by supporting both pure semantic search on ontologies and enhancing traditional key- word search with semantics. In particular, their approach deals with knowledge incompleteness by switching from the former to the later search paradigm when there is no match in the ontologies. Buscaldi et al. [2] use semantic relation- ship such as synonymy in WordNet to compute similarity of a document and a query and then to rank the results. More recently, Dalton et al. [5] propose an approach called entity feature query expansion that expands user queries by struc- tured data in knowledge bases. Given a query, the approach first annotates it with both explicit and latent entities and link them to two knowledge bases including Wikipedia and Freebase. Then, the corresponding structured data is used to do query expansion. The expanded queries are used to match with documents in retrieval phase. They show effec- tiveness of the approach on TREC text collections. Compared to the previous work, our work is different to them in the following aspects. First, unlike the most of the previous approaches focusing on semantically matching documents and queries, our work goes beyond that. In par- ticular, our work exploits standardized entities to match a searcher and documents to make results personalized as well as to model document popularities (query-independent) on various facets. As shown in evaluation section, these feature categories give even higher impacts than document-query matching. Second, even though our document-query match- ing approach is similar to the ones in the literature, our ap- proach is customized for job search domain. To the best of our knowledge, there is no prior work focusing on using semantic knowledge in job search. Third, our approach uses entity data at a feature level in personalized ranking func- tion (as opposed to query expansion level in some previous work). At the feature level, by applying learning to rank, our approach can softly combine semantic features and tra- ditional features in an optimal way learnt from training data instead of making a hard switch between semantic search and keyword search as in some previous work, such as [7]. Finally, besides typical offline experiments, we experiment on live traffic on an industrial search engine. The online metrics are derived from searcher actions, thus they allow demonstrating effectiveness of the approach in a personal- ized setting. 2.3 Personalized Search An important aspect of our work is personalization, which is also an active research area in the literature. The key idea behind personalized search is that different users might have different backgrounds and interests. As a result, they might look for different results even when issuing the same queries [1]. Thus, the one-size-fit-all model is not effective. There are multiple ways to achieve personalization in search. One direction is to ask users to describe their interests. For in- stance, Google personalized web search allows users to ex- plicitly select some of the predefined topics to specify their interests. Another direction is to implicitly model user’s in- terests. Sugiyama et al. [22] and Sontag et al. [21] propose approaches to model user’s long-term interests. Some other work like [20, 25] focuses on immediate history to repre- sent user’s short-term interests. When data is too sparse to model user’s interests individually, personalization could be achieved by grouping users in cohorts [27]. When a user issues a query, the corresponding cohorts can be used to customize results for the user. A novel aspect of our work in terms of personalization is that we propose a new concept of expertise homophily to personalize job search results. Expertise homophily is mea- sured by similarity between user’s expertise and expertise requirement of each job. Moreover, to represent user’s ex- pertise, we do not only use standardized skills explicitly in a user profile but also infer skills that the user might have. The inference step is done by collaborative filtering tech- nique exploiting skill co-occurrence patterns in the whole member base. 3. ENTITY-AWARE DOCUMENT-QUERY MATCHING As mentioned before, when a user issues a query like“soft- ware engineer Microsoft”, the user implicitly links the key- words to different typed entities, such as, title and company and expects the results matching with the information need in terms of the structure he or she has in mind. To sat- isfy this, we propose an approach that indexes documents in a structured way. At searching time, the user query is segmented and linked to one of the typed entities used in the document index. Then, we construct various features matching typed entities mentioned in the query with the cor- responding ones in the documents. In the next subsections, we describe how documents are structured and indexed, how to segment a query and link the segments to entities and how to construct features semantically matching the query and documents. 3.1 Job Document Indexing To help job seekers search and discover jobs, we build a search index on some of the key attributes of the job. Jobs on LinkedIn are structured to present the following key attributes: job title, company, location, industry and skills. An example is shown in Figure 1. When a job is posted on LinkedIn, it goes through a standardizer which looks at above mentioned fields to extract out standardized entities. The extracted entities are based on curated dictionaries built over time from our member profiles. The standardizer has been engineered through multiple iterations to understand what parts of the job posting are critical for different entities. The standardized job is then indexed and is searchable both on the entities as well as the free text as entered by the job poster. Since there is huge research literature on mapping textual mentions to entities, this paper does not emphasize this step. Instead, through out the paper, we focus on how to use these entities in job search ranking. 3.2 Query Processing When a searcher enters a query, e.g. “software engineer Microsoft Cambridge”, we first apply a query tagger to seg- ment the query and tag the segments into entity types that Figure 1: A job posting on LinkedIn. Entities in the job such as title, skills, company and location are extracted, standardized and indexed. are important to the job search domain, such as, job ti- tle, skill, company and location, etc. For instance, the query above is segmented into“software engineer”, “Microsoft”and “Cambridge”segments. These segments are then tagged into types of job title, company and location, respectively. Our query segmentation approach is similar to [23]. We refer interested readers to the reference for more details. Given entity types of query segments, the next step is to map the segments into specific entities. The segments are matched against the dictionary of the corresponding types. In ambiguous cases, e.g., “security” (ambiguous ti- tle) or “Cambridge” (ambiguous location), the standardized entities in the searcher’s profile are then used to resolve the ambiguity in a personalized way. For example, if the stan- dardized location in the searcher’s profile is Massachusetts (USA), “Cambridge” in his or her query is more likely to refer to the city in the US rather than the one in the UK. Similarly, if the searcher has title of computer security or related skills, such as, computer security or fraud detection, the term “security” in his or her query is more likely to refer to “computer security” title rather than “physical security”. 3.3 Query-Document Matching Features Given typed entities mentioned in user queries and in doc- uments, we construct entity-aware features to capture the se- mantic similarity between the queries and the documents. In particular, we match entities in the queries and the ones with the same types in the documents. For instance, for the query “software engineer Microsoft Cambridge”, after extracting standardized entities from the query as described above, we match title entity (“software engineer”) with the title entity in each job document. Similarly, we match company entity and location entity with the corresponding ones in the job description. We consider two types of entity-matching: hard matching and soft matching. The former checks if the two entities (in the query and in the document) have the same identifier. This matching is able to capture synonymy rela- tionship amongst different textual forms of the same entities, e.g., “software engineer” and “software developer”. We also consider the semantic similarity (soft matching) between two different but related standardized entities, such as, between title “software engineer” and title “software ar- chitect” or between skill “information retrieval” and skill “Web search”. To measure such similarity, we use an ap- proach leveraging the uniqueness of LinkedIn data collection including entity co-occurrence and career trajectory of more than 400 million members on LinkedIn. Intuitively, if two skills tend to co-occur in similar groups of members, they are likely to be related. Likewise, if there are a significant number of employees transferring between two companies, they are also likely to be similar. 4. SEARCHER-DOCUMENT EXPERTISE HOMOPHILY As briefly presented before, for a query like “software en- gineer Microsoft” the searcher is not equally interested in every software engineer job at the company. Instead, if the searcher happens to be a machine learning expert, he or she is much more likely to be interested in software engineer jobs related to this field rather than software engineer jobs focus- ing on other domains. Thus, in many cases, user queries are not enough to represent user information need and interest. To complement the query, we exploit an idea of expertise homophily that captures the similarity between searcher’s expertise and job expertise requirements to make job search results more personally relevant. Homophily has been extensively studied in the context of social networks analysis [17, 14]. The main idea is that in a social network, a node tends to be connected or interact with other nodes that are similar to it. In the context of job search, we hypothesize that a job searcher tends to be interested in the jobs requiring similar expertise as his or hers. In this section, we first present how we represent ex- pertise of searchers and expertise requirement of jobs via standardized skills. Then, we conduct an analysis to ver- ify the hypothesis. Finally, we propose features capturing searcher-document expertise homophily. LinkedIn allows members to add skills to their profiles. Typical example of skills for a software engineer would be - “Algorithm”, “Data Mining”, “Python”, etc. On LinkedIn, there are about 35 thousand standardized skills. Members can also endorse skills of other members in their network. Thus, skills are an integral part of members’ profiles to help them showcase their professional expertise (see Figure 2). On document side, as described in Section 3, each job de- scription also associates with a set of standardized skills. Thus, in this paper, we use skills to represent searcher’s ex- pertise and job expertise requirement. We conduct an analysis to verify the hypothesis that a job searcher tends to be interested in the jobs similar to his or her expertise using search logs. To avoid confounding fac- tors, e.g., a feature in the original ranking function produc- Figure 2: Example of Skill Section with Endorse- ments. Difference between overlapping bucket and non-overlapping bucket CTR + 55% Apply Rate + >100% Table 1: CTRs and Apply Rates of job results with overlapping skills and job results without overlap- ping skills. ing the logs that is correlated with searcher-result skill ho- mophily and also impacts searcher’s actions on results (since it impacts result rankings and searchers are biased towards top results), we use randomized data as described in de- tails in Section 6.2. The data contains about 200 thousand searches from tens of thousands unique searchers. The re- sults of the searches are divided into two buckets. The first bucket contains job results that their required skills overlap with the searcher’s skills. The second bucket includes job results that do not require any skills the searcher has. The overlapping bucket ends up with about 16% and the non- overlapping bucket has 84% of the total number of results. For each bucket, we compute CTR and apply rate, which are defined as ratios of the number of job results that the searcher clicks (views) or applies, respectively, to the total number of results shown (the number of result impressions). As shown in Table 1, CTR and apply rate of the jobs with overlapping skills are 55% and more than 100%, respectively, higher than the jobs without overlapping skills. Thus, this analysis confirms the importance of skill homophily between searcher and results. A key challenge of generating the expertise homophily fea- ture is that searchers may not explicitly list all the skills they have on profiles. On the other hand, some of their skills might not be relevant to their core expertise. For in- stance, a machine learning researcher could have “nonprofit fundraising” skill [11]. To overcome these challenges, we es- timate expertise scores of a member on the explicit skills and the ones he might have. Figure 3 describes the offline process to estimate the expertise scores. In the first step, we use a supervised learning algorithm combining various signals on LinkedIn such as skill-endorsement graph page rank, skill-profile textual similarity, member’s seniority, etc. to estimate the expertise score, i.e., p(expert|member, skill). After this step, the expertise matrix (E0) is very sparse since we can be certain only for a small percentage of the pairs. In the second step, we factorize the matrix into member and skill matrices in K-dimensional latent space. Then, we compute the dot-product of the matrices to fill in the “un- known” cells. The intuition is that if a member have “ma- chine learning” and “information retrieval” skills, based on skill co-occurrence patterns from all of our member base, we could infer that the member is likely to also know “learning- to-rank”. Since the dot-product results in a large number of non- zero scores of each member on the 35K skills, the scores are then thresholded. If a member’s score on a skill is less than a threshold, the member is assumed not to know the skill and the score is zeroed out. Thus, outlier skills are removed. At the same time, the final expertise matrix (E1) is still relatively denser than E0 since it includes scores of inferred skills. We refer interested readers to our recent work [10] for more details. Since matrix factorization is computationally complex, to guarantee efficiency, we apply a two-phase approach. An offline process periodically runs on distributed computing platforms like Hadoop to infer member skills. The online phase then simply consumes the latest version of the data at ranking time. Given a set of skills that a searcher has and a set of skills that a job requires, we compute Jaccard similarity between the the two sets. One future direction is to use weighted Jaccard similarity in which the weights are determined by searcher’s expertise scores on the skills. 5. ENTITY-FACETED HISTORICAL CLICK-THROUGH-RATE In this section, we propose entity-faceted document- popularity features based on user past behaviors. These features aim to indicate the quality of documents and are independent of query and searcher. The idea of using user’s historical actions on documents in Web search ranking func- tions has been shown effective in the literature [3]. However, a key challenge when deploying these features is the sparse- ness of data. The challenge is even more serious for job search since the lifetime of a job document is much shorter. To overcome this, instead of computing a single historical CTR separately for every job in the corpus, we estimate his- torical CTRs of a job on different entity-facets, such as, title, company or location. Please also note that in this paper we use historical CTR as an example, the idea is also appli- cable to other user-action based popularity features where data sparseness is an issue. 5.1 Feature Definition Given a job corpus, we compute multiple historical CTRs on different facets of the jobs. These facets are defined based on standardized entities mentioned in the jobs, such as, ti- Figure 3: Member-skill matrix factorization to infer skills that members might have but do not explicit list on profiles. tle, company or location. Specifically, we estimate histor- ical CTR of jobs with a certain title like “data scientist”, historical CTR of jobs at a company or historical CTR of jobs at some location. Then, given a specific job, for in- stance, a data scientist job at company LinkedIn in the city of Mountain View (California - USA), we use applicable entity-faceted historical CTRs including CTRtitle(data sci- entist), CTRcompany(LinkedIn) and CTRlocation(Mountain View (California - USA)) as features to indicate the popu- larity of the jobs on the corresponding aspects. It is worth noting that when computing historical CTRs, the jobs are grouped at entity level (e.g., company Ids), not at text level (e.g., company names in job postings). Thus jobs listing different names of the same company such as “International Business Machines”, “IBM Corporation”, “IBM corp.” or “IBM” are grouped together in the same bucket. Similarly, jobs with different title variations of the same title entity like “software engineer”, “software devel- oper”, “software development engineer” or “SDE” are also grouped together. Grouping the jobs at entity level does not only make the facet more meaningful, but also further reduces the issue of data sparseness. One future direction is to consider related entities, such as subsidiary companies (e.g., “Google”, “Youtube” and “Alphabet”) or neighboring cities (like “Mountain View” and “Sunnyvale” - both are in Silicon Valley) when estimating historical CTRs. The entity-faceted historical CTRs are computed based on the number of times the jobs belonging to the entity got clicked and the number of times these jobs were shown on search results (See Equation 1). Smoothing factor N and default value λ are parameters. For entity that the jobs belonging to it have zero or a small number of impressions compared to N, historical CTR corresponding to it will have value equal or closed to the default value λ. Once again, for efficiency purpose, we build an offline process running on a distributed system to estimate the entity-faceted historical CTRs at a large scale. At ranking time, the online process takes the latest data to compute features in realtime. CTR = (#clicks + λ ∗ N) (#impressions + N) (1) 5.2 Parameter Tuning The default value λ controls an interesting trade off for the cases where the number of impressions are low, e.g., jobs from a new company. If we use a too small default value, the new jobs that were not previously shown have little chance to be shown. Thus, we could not explore these results. However, many of these jobs could be good results and could get clicked if they are shown to the users. On the other hand, if we assign λ to a too high value, historical CTRs become too smooth and we do not exploit much of the insight from user historical actions. λ = argmax λ Correlation(CTR, label) (2) We tune the values of λ on validation set. Each instance in the data set, which corresponds to a search result, contains a feature vector and a graded relevance label. The label indicates how relevant the result is to the query and the searcher. The details on how the data set is generated will be described in Section 6.2. For each entity-faceted historical CTR (e.g., company-faceted historical CTR), we select the value for λ that maximizes the correlation between the CTR and the labels (See Equation 2). To illustrate the effect of parameter tuning, Figures 4 and 5 show company-faceted historical CTRs with λ equaling to zero and the optimal value. In each figure, the upper plot shows the relationship between the CTR feature and labels and the lower plot reveals company distribution over CTR values. On Figure 4, when the default value is zero, there are a significant number of companies having the historical CTR of zero because they have zero or few impressions in the period before we collect the training data. However, the average label of these results is not low (the first data point in Figure 4(a)), i.e., many of them are actually good results. Thus, as shown in the figure, the CTR does not strongly predict result relevance. When we assign λ to the optimal value (Figure 5), however, the company-faceted historical CTR becomes strongly correlated with the label. Quanti- tatively, between the two values for λ, the later improves Pearson correlation coefficient between the feature and the label by 55%. 6. MODEL TRAINING This section describes how the proposed features are in- tegrated into the job search ranking function. Specifically, we apply learning-to-rank approach to learn a new ranking function combining the entity-aware features with the exist- ing ones. We first give a high level description on the exist- ing features. Then, we present an approach for extracting personalized training data from search log and the learning- to-rank algorithm used to learn a new ranking function from the training data. 6.1 Existing Features The existing features are generally divided into the fol- lowing categories. Scaled Click Through Rate 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 Average Label 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1 (a) Relationship between historical CTRs and labels Scaled Click Through Rate 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 Percentage of Companies 0 5 10 15 (b) Distribution of companies over historical CTR values Figure 4: Company-Faceted Historical CTR with λ = 0. With this setting, the historical CTR does not predict result relevance well. Scaled Click Through Rate 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 Average Label 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1 (a) Relationship between historical CTRs and labels Scaled Click Through Rate 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 Percentage of Companies 0 5 10 15 20 25 (b) Distribution of companies over historical CTR values Figure 5: Company-Faceted Historical CTR with the optimal value for λ. With this setting, the his- torical CTR is strongly correlated with labels. Textual features The most traditional type of features in information retrieval is textual features. These features match the keywords in queries with different sections of job descriptions, such as, title, company, etc. The key difference between these features and entity-aware matching features in Section 3 is that the former does not take into account standardized entity information when matching queries and documents. Geographic features (personalized features) Job search on LinkedIn is highly personalized. For instance, a query like “software developer” from a job seeker will pro- duce very different results if the searcher is in New York City, USA as opposed to (say) Montreal, Canada. Location plays an important role in personalizing the results. We create multiple features capturing this. Social features (personalized features) Another im- portant aspect of personalization is to capture how the re- sults socially relate to the searcher. We leverage a variety of the signals on LinkedIn, such as, how the searcher socially connects with the company posting the job, e.g., if he or she follows the company or he or she has friends working at the company, etc. to generate the features in this category. We refer the readers to [10] for a more detailed description of the existing features. 6.2 Training Data and Learning Algorithm A traditional way to obtain training data is to use human experts to label the results. However, as we are dealing with a large amount training data for personalized search, it is expensive to use human experts. At the same time, it is very hard for people other than the searcher to know the true relevance judgment of the results. For example, for the same query “software engineer”, a new college graduate in the US and an experienced candidate in Canada could be interested in very different results. Thus, similar to [13], we use log data as implicit feedback from searchers to generate training data. One problem with the log data is position bias as the users tend to interact (e.g., click) on top results. Thus, labels in- ferred from the user actions are biased towards the ranking function generating the data. In order to counter the po- sition bias, we randomize the ranking of search results and show them to a small percentage of traffic. Then, we collect user actions on the results. For instance, as shown in Figure 6, a user issues query “software engineer”, and six results are shown. There are different actions the user can take on the results and the corresponding ones will have differ- ent graded relevance labels based on the importance of the actions. In the example shown, the searcher clicks on the second result and decides to apply to the job at the fourth position. Since applying to a job is a stronger signal of rel- evance than clicking on a job, we assign a higher label to applied results (label=3, i.e., considered as perfect results) and a lower label to clicked results (label=1, i.e., good re- sults). For the first and third results, the searcher scans through them but chooses not to take any action. Thus, we consider that these results are irrelevant (label=0, i.e., bad results). For the results ranked below the last interacted one (below result 4 in the Figure), we cannot be certain about the relevance judgement of them since the searcher may not have looked at them. Therefore, we discard these results. It is worth noting that when collecting the data, we count every query issued as a unique search. For instance, if the Figure 6: Example of how the labels are generated from user actions. Applied results are considered as perfect, clicked results are good and skipped results are bad. The results under the last interacted ones are ignored since the searcher may not have looked at them. query “software engineer” is issued five times, they are con- sidered as five distinct searches. The reason for this is that even though the query being searched for is identical across the five searches, they might have different search contexts when considering other dimensions such as searcher, location or time, etc. Moreover, this keeps the query distribution in the labeled data the same as in our live search traffic. We run the randomization bucket as mentioned above for two full weeks. The reason we keep the period in order of weeks is to iron out strong weekly patterns. For example, if the labeled data is collected only during weekdays, it will be bi- ased towards weekday search patterns and will not represent weekend search traffic. After two weeks, the randomization bucket ends up with about two hundred thousand searches with at least one searcher’s action. The labeled data is then divided into training, validation and test sets. Given the training dataset, we apply Coordinate Ascent [18], a listwise learning-to-rank algorithm, to search for an optimal model. For efficiency purpose, we use linear mod- els in our work. Coordinate Ascent algorithm has also been shown to be effective for learning linear ranking functions in some other search domains [18]. One key benefit of listwise learning-to-rank approach over pointwise and pairwise ones is that the listwise approach can optimize ranking-based metrics directly [15, 16]. The objective function we optimize in the learning process is normalized discounted accumula- tive gain ([email protected]) defined on the graded relevance labels as described above. Parameter K is set to 25, which is the number of results shown in the first result page of LinkedIn job search. 7. EVALUATION In this section, we evaluate the proposed features in both offline testing and online A/B testing. 7.1 Offline Experiment 7.1.1 Models to Compare Baseline: The baseline model uses all of the existing features described in Section 6.1 and does not contain any entity-aware features. Entity-Aware Document-Query Matching (DQM): This model uses the existing features and entity-aware document-query matching features discussed in Section 3. Document-Searcher Expertise Homophily (DSH): This model uses the existing features and searcher-document expertise homophily features described in Section 4. Entity-Faceted Historical CTR (ECTR): This model uses the existing features and entity-facted histotical CTRs described in Section 5. In this paper, we experiment with company and title facets. All of Entity-Aware Features (ALL): This model uses the existing features and all of the entity-aware fea- tures. All of the models are trained on the same training set and are tuned extensively on the validation set to get the optimal parameter setting for each of them. 7.1.2 Offline Results The Figure 7 shows performance lifts of the proposed mod- els over the baseline on the test set in terms of Precision at 1 ([email protected]), Mean Reciprocal Rank (MRR), [email protected] and [email protected] As shown in the figure, all of the models with entity-aware features (DQM, DSH and ECTR) are consis- tently better than the baseline across all of the metrics. This confirms the benefit of using entity-aware features in job search. For instance, on [email protected], entity-aware document- query matching features, document-searcher expertise ho- mophily features and entity-faceted historical CTR features can improve the baseline by 1.2%, 5.4% and 4.8% respec- tively. Interestingly, amongst the three feature categories, document-query matching features yield the least improve- ment and document-searcher matching features achieve the highest improvement. This emphasizes the importance of using standardized entities to personalize search results. Fi- nally, when combining all of the features together, not so sur- prisingly ALL model has the best performance. Compared to the baseline, ALL model is 20%, 12.1%, 8.3% and 7.9% better in terms of [email protected], MRR, [email protected] and [email protected] 7.2 Online Experiment In our online experiment, we take the model with the best offline performance, which is the one using all of the entity- aware features and compare it with the model currently in production. The model in production uses the features in Section 6.1 and some simple entity-aware document-query matching features. The later could be viewed as a simplified version of the features described in Section 3. The model [email protected] MRR [email protected] [email protected] 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 DQM DSH ECTR ALL Figure 7: Percentage improvements over the base- line model on offline experiment. All of the improve- ments are statistically significant. is also linear and trained by the same approach. Thus, the difference between the new model and the current one es- sentially demonstrates the effectiveness of the proposed fea- tures. We take a random portion of LinkedIn job search live traf- fic and randomly split the searchers in the experiment traffic into control and treatment buckets. To guarantee consistent experience, each of the searchers is either control or treat- ment bucket (not both) throughout the whole experiment period. The control bucket is served by the current ranking model and the treatment bucket is served by the new model. We run the A/B test on LinkedIn experiment platform [26] for a reasonably long period of time (4 weeks) and ignore re- sults in the first week to eliminate the novelty effect. During the three-week period, each bucket ends up with more than one million unique searchers and tens of millions of searches. We evaluate the buckets by two metrics: click-through- rate and apply rate as defined in Section 4. These are the most important metrics from our business perspective. It is worth emphasizing that these are ranking-based metrics, not set-based metrics. In online experiments, even if two rank- ing functions produce exactly the same set of results on first result page (top 25 results), the one that ranks relevant re- sults at higher positions on the page will be likely to achieve higher numbers of job views and applications. Thus, these metrics discount document relevance by positions, just like the NDCG metric that we use as the objective function in the offline training. In fact, we find that the NDCG metric in offline experiments is directionally inline with these met- rics in online experiments, i.e., if a model A is better than a model B in terms of the NDCG metric in offline experi- ments, model A is likely to perform better than model B on click-through-rate and apply rate in online experiments. Table 2 shows online A/B test results. Because of busi- ness sensitivity, we only report the relative improvements. On click-through-rate and apply rate, the new model with the proposed entity-aware features is 11.3% and 5.3% bet- ter than the current ranking model in production. Both of Metric Improvement of Treatment over Control Click-Through-Rate 11.3% Apply Rate 5.3% Table 2: Online A/B test results on click-through- rate and apply rate metrics. Both of the improve- ments are statistically significant. the improvements are statistically significant (details of the statistical testing is described in [26]) This re-confirms the advantage of entity-aware features in personalized job search ranking. 8. CONCLUSION In this paper, we propose an approach to applying stan- dardized entity data to improve job search quality and to personalize search results. To match queries and job doc- uments, we structure the queries and the documents in a schema specific to job search domain including critical en- tity types in the domain such as job title, skill, company and location, etc. Then, we construct various features semanti- cally matching the queries and the job documents based on the structured schema. To close the gap between a query and the searcher’s information need and also to personalize search results, we propose a concept of expertise homphily capturing the similarity between the searcher’s expertise and the requirement of the job. We use standardized skills to represent searcher’s expertise and job expertise requirement and measure the similarity based on these skills. Finally, to model document popularity, we introduce an idea of entity- faceted historical CTRs. These capture quality of each job on different aspects such as job title, company and location, etc. Grouping job documents based on the entities does not only make the groups meaningful but also alleviates the data sparseness issue when estimating historical CTRs. Throughout the paper, we also detail how we resolve prac- tical challenges when deploying standardized entities in job search ranking, including: ambiguity, missing values (such as members’ skills), scalability and online efficiency (espe- cially for sophisticated signals such as skill expertise scores), sparseness of historical searchers’ actions (particularly in job search domain where job lifetime is typically short), param- eter tuning for feature engineering, confounding factors and biases in log data and how to optimally combine the new features with the current ones in the existing ranking func- tion. We conduct offline experiment on randomized data and online A/B test to understand the effectiveness of the entity- aware features. In offline experiment, a new model with the features improves over the baseline +20%, +12.1% and +8.3% in terms of [email protected], MRR and [email protected], re- spectively. Online A/B test shows that the features can improve click-through-rate and apply rate, the two most important metrics of the product, +11.3% and +5.3%, re- spectively. The results confirm the benefits of the proposed features in job search. As of this writing, the new model serves all live traffic on LinkedIn job search. ACKNOWLEDGMENT: We would like to thank Deepak Agarwal for his valuable feedback during the course of this work. 9. REFERENCES [1] D. Arya, V. Ha-Thuc, and S. Sinha. Personalized federated search at linkedin. In Proceedings of the 24th ACM International on Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM), pages 1699–1702, 2015. [2] D. Buscaldi and P. Rosso. Using geowordnet for geographical information retrieval. In Evaluating Systems for Multilingual and Multimodal Information Access, pages 863–866, 2008. [3] O. Chapelle and Y. Chang. Yahoo! learning to rank challenge overview. 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