LinkedIn Design Challenge
An improved job posting experience.
Design an improved job posting experience for recruiters or hiring managers, that helps them attract and recruit relevant candidates for the position.
First, get familiar with the world of recruiting!
Having only ever been a job seeker on Linkedin, I really had NO IDEA what the recruiter side was like nor did I know much about the recruiting world in general. I set out to learn as much as possible about the recruiting world with a few research goals in mind;
1. What is the current experience for recruiters on LinkedIn like?
2. What is the market for recruiters like?
3. What challenges and motivations do recruiters have?
I first put myself in the shoes of a recruiter - I posted a job!
Before talking to recruiters, it was important to first become familiar with LinkedIn's current job posting experience. This allowed me to not only note any initial impressions or usability concerns I had but also identify parts of the process I wanted to learn more about.
Next, I analyzed the market for job posting.
With so many job boards to choose from, I wanted to analyze what was working and what wasn't and see what I could learn. I looked at a few popular ones and some up-and-coming ones to see if they were taking a different approach.
Indeed's experience is visually calming despite having more steps due to its light color choice, use of white space, and minimal shapes / lines.
Highlighting the tips within the job posting flow forces the user to read them and makes it more likely he/she will follow Indeed's advice.
Key Values takes a unique approach to job boards by advertising company values rather than standard job posts. Values are the sole filter for this job board, making it more likely that candidates who apply are a good culture fit.
I heard from the recruiters themselves!
I interviewed 4 recruiters at different sized companies. I inquired about the challenges they face attracting relevant candidates, the platforms they use and prefer, and also delved into specific elements of the job posting process. I was curious how they prepared job descriptions, selected skill keywords, and decided on daily budgets.
Culture fit is more important as seniority increases.
As seniority increases, most candidates tend to have the required skills and qualifications. LinkedIn currently does a decent job at filtering qualified candidates but is not great at filtering cultural fits.
"A lot of job posts say "we want x number of years of experience" but what I really want to know is, does your value system and way of working align with mine?"
Creating a good job description takes a lot of work but is vital in attracting the right candidates.
Today, using gender neutral and engaging language is vital to attracting diverse candidates. Recruiters spend a lot of time and effort ensuring that job descriptions are using language that attract the right candidates (e.g tools like Textio - a text augmentation tool)
There's a lot of legwork involved to ensure the right job title and keywords are being used.
Recruiters spend a lot of time learning about different jobs and what each one entails to ensure he / she can advertise it correctly. Many job titles have alternative titles which causes confusion.
"Sometimes, I have to post the same job under 5 different tiles to ensure all my bases are covered."
But wait, aren't job seekers the end user of the experience?
Recruiters are ultimately trying to appeal to job seekers. Therefore, it was important for me to also understand how job seekers view job posts, what attracts them to one over the other, and how it plays into their decision making.
Many job descriptions get ignored because they look like they're copied and pasted.
Job descriptions are a key way recruiters can lure in a candidate and it's a huge missed opportunity if candidates are starting to overlook them.
"I recently started ignoring job descriptions because I noticed recruiters didn't seem to be putting much effort into them. It was clear they were copied and pasted from another position."
There's often a discrepancy between seniority level listed and what's stated in the description.
A common frustration point for junior job seekers is opening a job post that was advertised as entry level only to find the job description says 5+ years experience wanted. It makes job seekers wonder if recruiters are really putting effort into creating these posts.
Junior and senior job seekers view job postings with different mindsets and goals.
Junior job seekers are less likely to care about the company and what they do, they're more concerned about if meet they qualifications and are likely to apply to as many places as possible. Senior job seekers are the opposite and care a lot more about company culture and values.
....which helped me hone in on the problem spaces I wanted to focus on.
At this point, I was brimming with ideas but I knew I couldn't do everything that came to mind. Identifying these key problem spaces from my data synthesis helped me select ideas to move forward with. With each idea, I asked myself myself;
- does it address one of these key problem spaces?
- what's the resources required vs. possible impact on success metrics?
- how risky is it? is it worth the investment?
Aha! Key design opportunities started to arise.
Through synthesis of all the data gathered, I realized that recruiters and job seekers were essentially facing the same challenges but the inverse of each other.
Job seekers sought cultural fits and high effort job descriptions.
Recruiters didn't know how to filter for cultural fit and lacked the resources to craft engaging job posts.
#1: How might we create a more inviting job posting experience for recruiters?
Prior to beginning design, I spent time studying LinkedIn's brand, noting the colors, language, and typography to ensure the experience I was proposing fit in seamlessly with the current experience. During this, I stumbled on LinkedIn's logged out experience.
Why doesn't all of LinkedIn look like this?
I immediately thought this design resonated more with the warm and inviting experience LinkedIn strives to create but noticed the rest of LinkedIn had a very different vibe, including the current job posting experience.
I dug a little deeper and realized LinkedIn was in the middle of a rebrand and was implementing the changes incrementally starting with the logged out experience. I decided to follow suit and propose an experience that was in line with its rebranding rather than what it is currently. I did this by:
Enhancing the UI to incorporate more colors, rounded corners, and an overall lighter feel.
The current experience was overpowered by blue, sharp corners, and an excess of borders and boxes. To make it more visually calming and inviting, I incorporated more elements from its new brand guidelines.
Creating more value in the 'tips' by making them more visible and actionable.
The current tips provide useful information but appear very passive. I decided to make them stand out more through UI changes (incorporating the pink from LinkedIn's new color palette) and offering real time feedback when possible.
Breaking up the task flow
The current experience presents the majority of tasks and information on the first page which can feel overwhelming. I decided to break this up both visually and experientially to allow more breathing room and engagement on specific sections.
#2: How might we attract candidates with similar values?
Addressing cultural fit immediately stood out as a gap to capitalize on. Finding cultural fits has become increasingly important today and LinkedIn had scope for improvement here. Incorporating this into LinkedIn's current offering is likely to increase its competitive advantage as a well rounded career platform both to recruiters and job seekers.
Include an input for company values
By incorporating company values into the job post, the post is likely to attract candidates whose values align. It also attempts to appeal to candidates' soft skills early in the post, which research indicates, is the best way to engage job seekers.
While this may not have a large affect on junior job seekers, it is likely to be significant to more senior candidates who place higher importance on finding a good cultural fit.
Iterations experimenting with different visual directions
#3: How might we help recruiters write more engaging job descriptions?
Research revealed that a lack of knowledge, time, and writing finesse often made crafting engaging job descriptions challenging. During my research, I discovered a tool called Textio - an augmented writing tool that helps users with flow, language, structure of their writing. It uses AI and machine learning to essentially write for you.
Digging deeper into the topic, I learned that machine learning and AI play a huge role in LinkedIn's current recruiter experience and that the company is continually pushing the boundaries of machine learning research. This sparked the idea of LinkedIn's own in-app writing assistance tool.
How could it add value?
I looked at case studies of companies that had benefitted from better writing. Air Asia, in particular, eschewed boring bullet pointed posts for a more conversational tone that was more engaging. It consequently started attracting more relevant talent and now uses LinkedIn as its primary recruiting platform.
I chose to keep the assistance relatively simple and focus on words or phrases. In particular, I chose to target generic and gender neutral language, as those were the largest issues that I found in my research. The assistance can be toggled on or off to be mindful of different users' needs such as different cultures or situations and offers real time feedback. My goal with my language choice in the cards was not to highlight what they're doing wrong, but to show how it could affect the reader.
#4: How might we reduce the leg work required by recruiters?
I identified 2 opportunity areas here through my interviews.
1. There's confusion in the myriad of similar job titles - recruiters don't know which is the most popular one.
2. Recruiters are unaware of the specific skills required of each job.
LinkedIn could leverage its data to include # of profiles with specific job titles to indicate popularity of a job title to recruiters. Learning from data, it could also suggest alternative names to the title that may be more popular.
I noticed that the skill keywords that auto populate are usually irrelevant to the job title, which can attract irrelevant candidates. I wondered if there was a way LinkedIn could use the tips to show the most popular skill keywords from profiles with the title in use for recruiters to easily pull from, making them actionable.
First, let's meet Kelsey.
Our goal is to ensure that she has such a great experience on LinkedIn that she convinces her company to use LinkedIn as their primary recruiting platform.
Kelsey is a recruiter at Instawork, a fast growing start-up in San Francisco, CA. She has been tasked to fill a number positions across various roles and teams.
Responsible for growing the teams, essentially the pillars of the company, it is vital that Kelsey not only finds qualified candidates but also candidates that add to the spirit and culture of Instawork.
Kelsey has been tasked with hiring an entry level UX designer for their growing product team. However, she doesn't realize that the title of product designer, particularly in the Bay Area, is more common than UX designer.
Finding candidates that align with Instawork's values are important to Kelsey. Thus, she spends time selecting Instawork's company values to appeal to individuals who share similar values, making it more likely that the candidates she receives are a cultural fit.
After filling in the company and job details, she moves on to the job description. She pastes the job description into the box and the writing assistance tool highlights words that could hinder the success of her post. She changes a few words to sound more engaging and gender neutral to ensure her post accurately reflects the values of her company and attracts the candidates she wants to work with. The tips on the right then let her know that she's good to go!
Once she's she's happy with her job description, she moves onto the skill keywords. Not super familiar with the skills of a product designer, LinkedIn helps her out by providing popular skill words found in profiles with the job title she selected.
Kelsey then moves onto the budget and screening pages as she would normally.
LinkedIn's new and improved job posting experience!
So, what did recruiters think?
Since my users were recruiters, they weren't as accessible to me as I would've liked. Schedules and personal obligations got in the way, which limited my opportunities to iterate on feedback. One recruiter did get back to me though and it was great to hear what she thought!
Overall, she thought the changes were great and features she'd like. However, concerns she brought up were;
Unsure of company values makes sense in the job posting experience
She loved the idea, but thought it would make more sense to have it on the company profile set up page. It may get repetitive to repeatedly input the same values for multiple job posts. Perhaps, it could be values specific to the role.
Job post could display # of matching profiles they could reach out to
It could appear as a tip on the right, like live feedback reflecting the # of matching profiles that the recruiter could reach out to. It could encourage the recruiter to tweak the job post even more.
If I had more time, I would...
Explore how AI could further help writing
Could it help with structure, where it helps the user figure out the order of sentences / paragraphs to best appeal to job seekers? Could it identify words that contradict inputs recruiters had made earlier (i.e. detecting that the job description says 5+ years experience but the user had indicated that the job was entry level).
Explore how recruiters could leverage their network
Job seekers mentioned that they discover jobs through their feed and network more than job posts, so how could the job posting experience capitalize on that behavior? A recruiter touched on this with her feedback, so definitely a space I would like to explore.