Introduction

LinkedIn is a network of over 500 million professionals. We use the power of professional networking and profile data to connect individuals with relevant opportunities. Hiring managers and recruiters are frequently interested in people who are already employed or satisfied with their current positions.

 

Task

Design an experience that presents job opportunities to a passive candidate, who is not actively looking for a new position. Find creative solutions that gains the passive candidate's interest in a new position, and garners a response.

Scope

Please think through the end to end experience, and share your thought process, approach, insights and analysis with us. The final deliverable should be a high-fidelity design comp/comps that demonstrate your interaction and visual design capabilities.


1. Understanding the goals

Before we do anything, the first steps is to better understand our goals and the purpose for which we are designing. Without clear goals and success metrics, we’ll have little chance of designing a solution that aligns with the business or being able to measure the extent to which it was successful.

 

Goals:

  • Engage passive candidates with relevant job opportunities
  • Increase the number of responses to those job ads
  • Increase revenue from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (from ads) and Talent Solutions (from recruiters)
    • More engagement with job ads > more time on site and increased ad value
    • More engagement with job ads > more value for both candidates and recruiters

Metrics

For the purposes of this exercise, we'll focus primarily on measuring overall engagement with job ads: 

  • Job ads viewed
  • Responses to job ads
  • Click through to content presented on the job ads
  • Session lengths and app open rates

Assumptions

  • Passive candidates are the best hires
  • A passive candidate is defined as employed and not currently looking for a new opportunity
  • Previous research or data has been used to identify the problem we're solving and indicates that presenting job opportunities is the best strategy to engage passive candidates. Otherwise, we would want to consider other possible strategies for engaging passive candidates, e.g. career planning, learning and development, goal setting, etc. to determine the right direction. 
  • Designing for existing LinkedIn users within the US

2. Understanding the problem

After defining our goals, the next step is to better understand the problem we're trying to solve. More importantly, we want to make sure that we are even solving the right problem in the first place. In this case, we'll take a step back and look broadly at the latest talent trends, the existing LinkedIn experience for passive candidates, their current behavior and other competitors in the space.  

 

Linkedin Talent Trends

Upon initial research of the topic, we find that nearly everyone is open to hearing about a new job opportunity. As of 2016, roughly 70% of the global workforce was defined as passive talent. More specifically, that passive talent can be broken down into three distinct groups: tip-toers, exploreres, and super passive candidates. 

  • Tip-toers: may already be reaching out to their close personal network
  • Explorers: aren't looking for a new job but are open to talking to a recruiter
  • Super Passive: are completely satisfied and don’t want to move

Note: based on previous research conducted at my current company, we also know that these candidate personas are not fixed. Throughout the course of a candidates journey, they may fluctuate across this spectrum.  

2015 LinkedIn Talent Report

2015 LinkedIn Talent Report

 

The Current Linkedin Experience

Among other ways of engaging with LinkedIn, the jobs experience for passive candidates primarily consists of recommended jobs based on your career interests and network along with opportunities presented by recruiters via inmail and messaging. Based on my own observations, these job recommendations can have varying levels of effectiveness:

  • Recommendations aren’t particularly actionable for those not ready to apply
  • Users can experience “recommendation fatigue” over time
  • Recommendations are often out of context and fail to connect to candidates’ intrinsic motivations
  • Inmail requests from recruiters are probably the best examples of contextual, engaging ads though these can also be spammy, irrelevant or impersonal depending on the recruiter. 

 

 
Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 4.06.20 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 10.44.31 AM.png
 
Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 10.44.00 AM.png
 

The Competitive Landscape

We also want to take a look at what others are doing for attract passive talent in the jobs space. At a glance, we find that there are a handful of mobile apps specifically designed to target passive candidates such as jobr, poacht, switch, etc. Things that they have in common are: 

  • They’re anonymous
  • Job ads are actionable without having to apply
  • Easy to engage with limited commitment, e.g. simply swipe left/right if interested
  • Lack of variety of jobs and target primarily hard-to-fill roles.
  • Interaction models range from swiping through listings or just letting the app alert you when there's a match

There are also the traditional job search engines like indeed, glassdoor, etc. However, these sites don't appear to do much to attract passive candidates. 


3. Understanding the passive job seeker

The research process varies depending on the project, resources, timeline etc. and in this case, we really only have time to scratch the surface. Typically, we'd start by collecting whatever existing research or data we might have from our users before jumping into conducting additional surveys or user interviews. In this case, we've already leveraged insights from several survey's available on the LinkedIn talent blog before diving into further user research. 

Persona.jpg

User InterviewS

To better understand the needs of passive job seekers, I reached out to several people in my network that I knew were happily employed. Typically we'd go through a more precise screening process but with the limited time it was enough to gather some quick insights. The goal of the interviews was to dive deeper into their current experience with LinkedIn, their experience with recruiters, previous experiences changing jobs and future career aspirations. 

I also reached out to a recruiter in my network to get their perspective on the passive job seeker experience. Recruiters specialize in identifying and engaging passive candidates so I anticipated that they would provide insights on how they engage passive candidates.  

 

WHAT I LEARNED

After speaking with 3 passive candidates, I started to see some common themes. Overall, their usage of LinkedIn is fairly limited, especially when it comes to interacting with job ads. They may briefly skim through their news feeds to "see what their friends/colleagues are up to" but generally, they're on LinkedIn to complete a specific task. For example, responding to invitations and messages, looking someone up, or messaging someone in their network. The majority of their experience with job ads are those presented by recruiters. And, for the most part, they just weren't interested in them, since the recruiters have no idea what they're interested in or passionate about.

Persona #4 Copy.jpg

4. Ideation

After having conducted sufficient research, we're ready to define the problem we intend to solve with our app and start brainstorming around possible solutions. For the purposes of the exercise, I'm going to focus on the mobile experience since we know that candidates are spending more and more time engaging with jobs from their mobile devices -- however this is something that we would typically determine based on data insights. Some of the problems we want to solve in our mobile experience:

  • Job ads don't connect to candidates motivations. E..g. Understanding candidates professional goals and passions to present the most relevant job ads
  • Job ads are impersonal and generic. E.g. for each job ad, show a detailed and personalized message re: why it's a great match for them
  • Candidates who may be interested in a job, still aren't ready to apply. E.g. provide candidates with a low-commitment way to respond to job ads
  • It's difficult for recruiters to identify interested passive talent which leads to a poor candidate experience with recruiters. E.g. provide recruiters with a way of identifying the most interested candidates to improve effectiveness and engagement with inMail messages.

 

BRAINSTORM & SKETCHES


4. Design, test and iterate

WIREFRAMES

With a general understanding of the overall structure and flow, we're ready to turn our sketches into wireframes. Since the next step in the process will be to get feedback from users, I typically design wireframes directly in Axure so that I can easily turn them into a testable prototype.

Compensation is one of the top motivating factors for passive candidates but one of the takeaways from my research was that the 'right opportunity' absolutely has to align with the candidates passions. They want to have an impact in their new role and want to know that they're passionate about the company's mission. Any job ads that get presented without this context are going to be generic and fail to connect to their true motivation and goals. Professional development and career advancement is another motivating factor, so understanding where passive candidates want to grow will also lead to more contextual and relevant job ads.  The on-boarding to this experience is intentionally short to appeal to passive candidates who aren't likely to spend time exploring and personalizing their jobs experience. However, at this point, we would want to engage with people from data science and engineering to understand how this will impact the quality of our matches -- it's a fine line between asking too much and asking too little. The design will provide a way for users to further personalize their experience later. 

Compensation is one of the top motivating factors for passive candidates but one of the takeaways from my research was that the 'right opportunity' absolutely has to align with the candidates passions. They want to have an impact in their new role and want to know that they're passionate about the company's mission. Any job ads that get presented without this context are going to be generic and fail to connect to their true motivation and goals. Professional development and career advancement is another motivating factor, so understanding where passive candidates want to grow will also lead to more contextual and relevant job ads.

The on-boarding to this experience is intentionally short to appeal to passive candidates who aren't likely to spend time exploring and personalizing their jobs experience. However, at this point, we would want to engage with people from data science and engineering to understand how this will impact the quality of our matches -- it's a fine line between asking too much and asking too little. The design will provide a way for users to further personalize their experience later. 

Based on our research, we know that frequency and timing of exposure to job ads or messages from recruiters significantly impacts candidates likelihood to engage. For this reason, we want to significantly limit the total number of matches we present to users at any given time but continue to measure and optimize the exact number moving forward. The concept also reminds users that they don't necessarily need to apply to jobs that they're interested in, and instead the experience is about getting to know them and identifying opportunities for when they are ready.   Each job ad is presented within the context what the candidate has already identified as being passionate about. At this stage, passive candidates are more interested in a company that aligns with their values that a position that aligns with their skillset. Another takeaway from my research was that recruiters will see more engagement with job ads that appear to come from company leadership in comparison to messages from recruiters. 

Based on our research, we know that frequency and timing of exposure to job ads or messages from recruiters significantly impacts candidates likelihood to engage. For this reason, we want to significantly limit the total number of matches we present to users at any given time but continue to measure and optimize the exact number moving forward. The concept also reminds users that they don't necessarily need to apply to jobs that they're interested in, and instead the experience is about getting to know them and identifying opportunities for when they are ready. 

Each job ad is presented within the context what the candidate has already identified as being passionate about. At this stage, passive candidates are more interested in a company that aligns with their values that a position that aligns with their skillset. Another takeaway from my research was that recruiters will see more engagement with job ads that appear to come from company leadership in comparison to messages from recruiters. 

The product continues to learn about the candidates interests and provides a feedback mechanism so that candidates can continue to see better results. For opportunities they are interested, the concept makes it easy for users to see how their passions and career aspirations align with the company/role. The I'm open to future opportunities facilitates a response from the candidate without feeling like they need to apply to the job. I heard multiple times in my research that the most qualified candidates won't list their status as "open" to avoid the barrage of messages from recruiters. This attempts to address that issue by limiting the visibility of their profile to companies that they've specifically identified interest in.   Another thing to note is that, even if a candidate doesn't respond to the ad, we can still gather information about their overall engagement with the page. Recruiters will often retarget messages to candidates that have shown engagement with company content that gets shared with them. They also expect to engage a candidate 2-3 times before the timing is right and they see success. We would want to employ the same strategy here.

The product continues to learn about the candidates interests and provides a feedback mechanism so that candidates can continue to see better results. For opportunities they are interested, the concept makes it easy for users to see how their passions and career aspirations align with the company/role. The I'm open to future opportunities facilitates a response from the candidate without feeling like they need to apply to the job. I heard multiple times in my research that the most qualified candidates won't list their status as "open" to avoid the barrage of messages from recruiters. This attempts to address that issue by limiting the visibility of their profile to companies that they've specifically identified interest in. 

Another thing to note is that, even if a candidate doesn't respond to the ad, we can still gather information about their overall engagement with the page. Recruiters will often retarget messages to candidates that have shown engagement with company content that gets shared with them. They also expect to engage a candidate 2-3 times before the timing is right and they see success. We would want to employ the same strategy here.

The first screen on the left is actually an alternate way of garnering a response from users. Instead of toggling the "I'm open to future opportunities" button, they would instead respond in a similar way that LinkedIn has already created for inMail responses. From the people that I spoke to, there was an overall positive reaction to that particular feature and made sense to leverage it here. It's actually much more actionable than the toggle though the toggle is much more clear in terms of what it does. User expectations around what these responses actually do is something that we'd want to explore further as we begin to get feedback on the concept. 

The first screen on the left is actually an alternate way of garnering a response from users. Instead of toggling the "I'm open to future opportunities" button, they would instead respond in a similar way that LinkedIn has already created for inMail responses. From the people that I spoke to, there was an overall positive reaction to that particular feature and made sense to leverage it here. It's actually much more actionable than the toggle though the toggle is much more clear in terms of what it does. User expectations around what these responses actually do is something that we'd want to explore further as we begin to get feedback on the concept. 

 

USER TESTING

The next phase of the design process would be testing, iterating and refining. For the purposes of the exercise, I've brainstormed and designed for one concept but this would be a scenario where we would want to test a few competing concepts to identify the right direction. 

In our testing, we would want to recruit a range of participants that span the spectrum of our passive candidates, e.g. tip-toers, explorers, and super passive candidates. We may even want to get feedback from recruiters and hiring managers to understand how this might converge with the hiring experience


5. High fidelity mockups

Lastly, high fidelity mockups to get an idea of the look and feel of the new experience. Since it's unlikely that our passive candidates are also LinkedIn premium subscribers, I thought that we could play on the visual implementation of premium and use a similar approach to the visual language. The unique style of the passive content re-enforces that these are highly targeted and personalized opportunities in comparison to the job ads they may see elsewhere on LinkedIn.

Artboard Copy 18.png
Artboard Copy 19.png

6. Summary

The proposed job ads are actionable

The job ads become actionable without candidates having to apply, significantly increasing the likelihood of garnering a response. From my research, even the most open candidates typically aren't ready to apply. Instead, candidates can simply reply with their overall level of interest, E.g. interested, maybe later, no thanks. 

 

They're more targeted

The job ads more clearly demonstrate the "fit" between the company, role and the candidates passions, a shift from the more generic ads "based on your profile and interests". From my research, candidates were more likely to respond to a job ad if it was perceived as personalized and targeted just to them.

 

They're presented in the context of the company mission

The job ads are presented within the context of the company and their mission rather than the job description, including recent company news and a personal note from company leadership. From my research, I learned that this is a successful strategy commonly commonly used by recruiters to pursue passive candidates. 

 

The experience puts candidates in control

Rather than being open to "all recruiters", candidates can limit recruiter contacts to only the companies they're interested in. From my research, this is a major pain point with the current LinkedIn "open" experience, especially for high demand roles. E.g. the best talent prefer not to list their profile as open, even if they really might be, to avoid the barrage of generic InMail messages and contacts from headhunters. 


7. Improvements and other considerations

At this stage, we've explored one possible direction. As I mentioned above, in order to get quality feedback from users we would also want to present them with some alternative concepts. For a new experience like this, it's difficult for users to know what the best approach is without being able to compare it to something else. 

A few other things that I wanted to explore but didn't have time were: 

  • Connecting this passive job seeker experience to content presented in the news feed. When a users engages with an article or video, we could provide a mechanism that allows them to say they'd be interested in related opportunities. This could also complement our concept by providing more ways for users to identify what they're passionate about and in turn produce better recommendations. 
  • Facilitating referrals. It's widely known that referrals are often some best and most effective way to recruit candidates. However, we learned that it's difficult for recruiters to identify these referrals because employees don't have the time to mine through their network. I could imagine an experience that when a recruiter posts a job to LinkedIn, it automatically prompts relevant employees and suggests people in their network that might be a good fit. Within a few clicks, a message is automatically sent out to those connections with a personalize message saying that they'd be a great fit for the open position. 

8. Continued Exploration

As mentioned above, we know that passive candidates spend a majority of their time on LinkedIn responding to invitations, messaging their contacts and browsing content in their news feed. Therefore, it's important to engage them with job ads within this context to increase the likelihood of garnering a response.  The following explorations demonstrate how job ads could be presented in relation to relevant content and how job ads could be shared directly between connections via referrals. 

 

Contextual Job Ads

The most relevant job ads will be those connected to content that the candidate is interested in. There are several possible triggers to indicate interest but in this example, we'll assume that interest is most likely when a user interacts with and reads an article. Below I've explored 3 different approaches:

  1. Before a candidate interacts with the article 
  2. While viewing the article
  3. After a candidate reads the article and returns to their news feed

Since the current model for viewing articles doesn't give LinkedIn control over the article experience, I've proposed introducing an article "preview", allowing us to present job ads within the article itself.  With this new preview model, we're able to present job ads related to the specific companies, industries or trends that are explicitly mentioned. The preview, which opens in a modal window without leaving the news feed, also presents additional content like industry and company information since since more passive candidates may not be ready to engage with specific job ads.