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.
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.
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.
- 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
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
- Before a candidate interacts with the article
- While viewing the article
- 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.