An app that matches job seekers with employers in order to help people make better decisions about where to work, and to make the transition from school-to-work or from one job to another more seamless.
Since my partner, Keith, and I were both students about to graduate, we wanted to create a product that would make an unenjoyable experience - the job search - better. To start, we asked a simple question – how do people choose what kind of job they want, and decide whether or not to accept an offer of employment? How might we help people make better decisions about where to work?
CareerMatch helps people make better professional decisions by matching job seekers with employers through an algorithm that takes emotional needs and values into account. Employers and job seekers are matched early on in the process, even when job seekers are still in school. Employers can become official, paid mentors to job seekers, or use the platform simply to recruit talent. In addition, CareerMatch personalizes the process for job seekers by suggesting steps they should take to land their ideal job, such as people to connect with, events to attend, classes to take, and so on.
Students in college or grad school, and professionals hoping to switch jobs or careers
CareerMatch was designed in the span of two weeks in March 2017 for the course Designing for Desirability at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Keith and I started the design process by assessing whether existing job search platforms, such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor, are effective and enjoyable to use. We did a quick comparative analysis of these apps.
Based on our comparative analysis, we developed two hypotheses about the usefulness of existing job search apps, and designed a survey to test our hypotheses.
Hypothesis 1: LinkedIn and Glassdoor are effective for practical job search functions like browsing job posts and determining what the salary might be for a position, but not effective for helping people make decisions about where to work based on their values, needs, and emotions, such as:
- The need to discover what their ideal job is and how to land their ideal job
- The need to feel like they are utilizing their strengths
- The need to feel like they are valued within an organization
- The need to feel like what they’re doing matters in the larger scheme of things
- The need to feel like they are properly rewarded or recognized for their contributions in a fair and equitable way
Hypothesis 2: LinkedIn and Glassdoor are not enjoyable to use, and therefore people use them more out of necessity than desirability.
35 students from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, most of whom are graduating this May, took our survey.
- Hypothesis 1: validated
- Hypothesis 2: not validated
Surprisingly, our respondents indicated that while they found both LinkedIn and Glassdoor to be less useful than we had anticipated, they found both to be more enjoyable than we had anticipated. Respondents tended to use LinkedIn for networking and browsing job posts, but not for much else. Respondents tended to use Glassdoor to decide whether or not to accept a job offer, but not for much else.
On the other hand, we're not so sure why respondents ranked both platforms high in regards to enjoyability. We assume that LinkedIn makes people happy because of its social networking component, and that Glassdoor makes people happy because it provides people with transparency on salary and what it’s really like to work somewhere.
Another insight from the survey was that people are using a variety of methods beyond LinkedIn and Glassdoor in the career exploration and job search process, including:
- Obtaining advice from professors, prior managers, school career counselors, etc.
- Using school-related career search platforms such as Career and HIRED
- Going on company websites or searching on Google
- Using other career apps such as MediaBistro, The Muse, Indeed, USA Jobs, etc.
Additionally, we asked respondents what their ideal job is, and their answers were insightful. While some of them did not know, a few others defined their ideal job not by title but by values and needs such as “a career with continual growth”, “a job where I can work creatively and collaboratively”, “high autonomy”, etc. This indicated that while people care a lot about factors beyond title, salary, and job functions, current platforms don’t address these needs. Lastly, one respondent indicated that “any job search that included personalization to help you achieve skills you are missing would be very appealing.”
User Journey Design
Based on our user research findings, we decided that our platform should help users do three things:
- Sort through the various career options through an algorithm that takes into account the user’s education, interests, skills, and most importantly, values.
- Prepare for the career that they want by suggesting professional and academic mentors to reach out to, events to attend, courses to take, skills to gain, and so on. Since a significant number of respondents mentioned school-affiliated resources as important to their job search, we wanted CareerMatch to purposefully harness academic resources.
- Make informed decisions about where they should work based on their values and emotional needs.
We realized that none of the existing career apps help users transition between school and the workforce. Therefore, with CareerMatch, the user's journey can begin while they are still in school. Here are a few examples of how CareerMatch helps to ease this transition:
- Based on the student’s profile, CareerMatch suggests courses the student should take before they graduate.
- CareerMatch also recommends faculty mentors who are knowledgeable about the industry the student is interested in
- Every time a student connects with a mentor, attends an event, takes a class, etc, CareerMatch tracks their progress in order to continuously personalize their professional development journey.
The user journey continues after the user starts their first job after graduation, since as employees people still want to continuously grow and learn.
Other users, besides students, are professionals and employers. Employers use CareerMatch to find talent for their companies. Similar to the way that CareerMatch personalizes the job search for students and professionals, it personalizes the talent search for employers. Employers input information such as the education and skills needed for a particular position, and the app matches them with students or professionals. Employers also have the option to sign up as mentors for students/professionals and are paid for the mentorship that they provide. This is an opportunity for employers to tap into talent as well as build a good reputation. In this way, CareerMatch acts as a matchmaking service for employers and job searchers.
The design of CareerMatch is simple and informal. We found the design of LinkedIn and Glassdoor to be corporate and stiff, which doesn’t appeal as much to students. (In comparison, we found the design of other sites like MediaBistro and The Muse to be more hip and fun, and thus the experience to be more enjoyable). In addition, platforms that require users to input a lot of information are usually cluttered and uneasy to use; therefore, CareerMatch purposefully allows users to input information needed to personalize their experience in a simple and dynamic way. The rudimentary prototype that I created walks users through one of the main functions of the platform:
- The user selects that they are a student among the different target audiences
- The user is then brought to a screen where they can input information about their education, interests, skills, and values
- They choose to edit their ‘values’, and are asked to rank their values by dragging and dropping a series of images
- Next, career match personalizes the experience for the user
- Finally, the user is brought to their homepage, where they can navigate between the Prepare, Careers, Messages, and Profile pages.
The Prepare page suggests ways for the user to prepare for their ideal job
The Careers page allows users to view companies and positions that match their values, skills, and interests
The Messages page contains correspondence between users and their mentors. This is where the social networking happens! Non-premium members can still reach out to people who work at companies they’re interested in, but premium members receive more tailored and guided mentorship from employers who have signed up to provide the service.
The Profile page allows users to edit their information at any time.
What we would do if we had more time
If we had more time for the design of the survey, we would have asked more open-ended questions such as what features they would like to see on a job search or career coach platform. While our survey illuminated what people are using LinkedIn and Glassdoor for, it could have given us more insight into what they desire to do with these apps.
If we had more time for the design of the app, we would have built out more of the screens, including the screens that employers would see once they log in.