This case study provides an overview of my design process in creating an experience that presents job opportunities to passive candidates in an interesting and engaging way.
About this case study
Brief: 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.
Most companies frequently have job opportunities available for a variety of roles. One of the primary goals for companies is to attract and hire the best candidates. Often, these individuals are in satisfying jobs and are either unavailable for new opportunities or passively looking. Further, many recruiters reach out to passive candidates with InMail messages that are poorly written and fail to highlight the value in exploring new roles.
LinkedIn's current platform is full of opportunity to incorporate new features that gain a passive candidate's attention and assist recruiters in making a successful initial contact with passive job seekers. Rethinking how jobs are displayed on LinkedIn, evaluating the hierarchy of info, providing users with more control over their job search and helping recruiters formulate messages with templates are some design solutions that will put LinkedIn on the right path in its goal of attracting passive job candidates to new job opportunities.
Preview of my solution (Video)
I approached the exercise in 5 parts (plus conclusions) following a user centered design process (with more time I would focus on additional user testing with the final prototypes):
1. Understand Task
I started this design exercise by brainstorming initial ideas in order to explore the topic of passiveness (in a job search) at a high level and to write down my early thoughts. With research being the first part of my design process, I wrote down an overview of my research process to determine my methodology, target participants and questions to ask. In addition, I thought of some early hypotheses and assumptions based on the prompt.
Using data to support design decisions is an important part of my design process. Both qualitative and quantitative data is useful for deeply understanding users. Data-driven design allows me to engage users and gain insights into their pain points, goals, lifestyle and more in order to tailor the user experience. For this design exercise, I gathered both types of data to understand what is happening and why it is happening.
With these insights and data points, I conducted interviews with 5 passive job seekers to gain a deeper understanding of their motivations, pain points and experiences surrounding searching for a new job. I also interviewed 3 recruiters and asked them a couple of questions about how they approach passive candidates. Below shows the 3 most important questions asked to passive candidates and 1 question I asked the recruiters (see blue interview card). I have removed all names and identities for privacy reasons.
4. Research Synthesis (Affinity Diagram)
I synthesized the findings and data from my survey and interviews to create an affinity diagram where I was able to group common themes and ideas. I pointed out what causes passiveness, what would be motivators to explore new jobs and what are some pain points in a job search. Overall, while LinkedIn does a superior job with networking, there are several subjective, objective and platform/ui considerations that should be evaluated in thinking about a new experience for approaching a passive job search.
5. Competitive Analysis
I kept my competitive analysis general and focused on features and function directly related to job and networking opportunities. I narrowed down the number of companies to 5 (including LinkedIn) that are direct competitors in the job search space. This allowed me to assess competition and identify areas where LinkedIn can have a competitive advantage. I quickly found that LinkedIn does a fantastic job with networking and is easy to use; however, competitors are more effective in providing users with more control and options for personalized preferences, in addition to overall discoverability of content. This provides LinkedIn with an opportunity to continue being a leader in Networking and ease of use, while implementing new ways of discovering jobs and narrowing in on the best job opportunities.
1. Identifying the Problem
The research and data collection up to this point suggests that people not only have trouble finding new job opportunities, but also experience challenges being sent relevant job opportunities from recruiters. This is problematic for a couple of reasons. Having a poor experience while being a passive candidate can have a negative carryover effect when actively looking for a job, and being sent job opportunities that are not a fit lessens the chances of converting a passive candidate into an active one.
Throughout my research I identified an interesting data point that suggests a need for more creative and engaging ways of connecting with passive candidates: According to LinkedIn's U.S. & Canada Talent Trends report, 90% of professionals are interested in hearing about new job opportunities, but only a third are actively looking.
Below is an overview of the main pain points users currently experience and the root causes of each:
2. Problem Statement
Summarizing my research and findings, I wrote the following problem statement;
3. Solving the Problem (Opportunity Space)
With these things in mind, I decided on the following mission:
Provide passive candidates with more control and options for their job search, and assist companies and recruiters in crafting compelling job opportunities.
The ultimate goal of my experience is to make the process of looking for new job opportunities as efficient and tailored as possible for both passive candidates and recruiters/hiring managers. How this will be achieved:
Defining the scope of this project
To focus on what matters most and help guide my design decisions, I’ve listed out the following constraints for this project:
User Profiles - Meet Taylor and Andrew
After reviewing my research and setting constraints, I created two personas who exemplify my primary user types:
1. Taylor: a 31 year old UX Designer who is satisfied in her current role.
2. Andrew: a 34 year old technical recruiter looking to fill job openings with quality candidates.
Taylor is a passive job candidate
Empathizing with Taylor and understanding her previous experience in searching for jobs is important to designing an experience that alleviates her pain points and helps her achieve her goals. The following is Taylor’s journey and emotional experience through connecting with recruiters and searching for jobs on LinkedIn (Note: This is her current experience with LinkedIn).
Visualizing Taylor using LinkedIn
To visualize the user flow for LinkedIn’s two primary types of users, I created two streamlined user flows that outline the primary journey when using LinkedIn for both passive candidates and recruiters:
Passive Candidate (Taylor)
To further visualize Taylor’s movement through LinkedIn, I also created a thorough user flow diagram that highlights the main changes to Taylor's user flow. This user flow should meet Taylor’s needs and the overall needs/goals of LinkedIn.
At this point, I had a clear understanding of the new features LinkedIn should contain, the actions Taylor and Andrew will take while using LinkedIn, and how to best address and alleviate user pain points through design. I was able to start sketching the main user flow and several other ideas for various screens. My goal here was to visualize the user interface, user interactions and flow of my solutions.
Applying LinkedIn's Brand + Identity
Visual design often has the same amount of impact on the total experience as usability. Looking at Taylor’s journey, my goal with my visual design choices is to engage Taylor, draw her attention to the most important areas of each screen (in this case, job related areas) and easily allow her to complete tasks. I spent time on size, target areas, color, whitespace and hierarchy to match LinkedIn's current design system, in addition to performing A/B tests. The A/B tests were used to determine several layout, color and information decisions.
I used white for the primary color to ensure copy is easy to read and important elements stand out. LinkedIn Blue is used as a secondary color to highlight important information to the user where it appears. To maintain distinction and consistency throughout the app, I used the accent blue and accent green colors for key elements throughout the updated UI.
One of my main design goals was to ensure I did not disrupt or significantly change LinkedIn's current design system. All new components and design solutions can be easily integrated into LinkedIn's current mobile app without any major friction areas for LinkedIn or users.
My design update utilizes several transitions throughout LinkedIn, with attention given to maintaining focus and emphasized easing. Below is an example of a map view when a user is viewing jobs near their current location.
Jobs Nearby (Video)
Part of making my updated design accessible is through color. All of the colors used surpass W3C’s level AA requirement of a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text (all colors used are from LinkedIn's Brand Resources). For users who are color blind and/or view this content in monochrome, links will have a caret at the end indicating a link (another solution is to have all links underlined by default). Here are some additional ways my new design solutions set the bar high for accessible design:
Final Design Deliverables
LinkedIn is used to not only connect with professionals and build your network, but to search and apply to jobs. Hiring managers and recruiters often look to try and attract passive candidates, although it has been challenging trying to gain the attention and excitement of a passive job seeker on LinkedIn. My redesign incorporates creative design solutions in three main areas: discoverability, tailored content and features, and assisting recruiters in communicating with passive candidates.
The first section of this case study covers design solutions for the passive job candidate, while the latter portion looks at two solutions for recruiters.
Recommended Jobs (Home Feed)
When Taylor launches LinkedIn, she is typically shown recommended jobs at the top of her feed. One of the pain points that this redesign solves is discoverability. Taylor would not always interact with the recommended jobs because they blended in with the rest of the content visible on her feed, and their original design resembled an advertisement/secondary content that she did not find important.
I ran several A/B tests to determine which design variation of the recommended jobs section was most effective when evaluating design and content shown to a passive candidate. I found that connections were not as important in comparison to a snapshot of the salary and benefits. Further, maintaining a similar design layout and structure to this section still resulted in the same pain point mentioned above - a lack of discoverability and minimal interaction from users.
After some further iterations and testing feedback, my final design solution is shown below.
Taylor can navigate the jobs in this section by performing a horizontal scroll since this acts as a swipeable carousel. Each job has an individual card containing the most important info a passive user wants to see upfront. The pain point this redesign solves is knowing how a new job might benefit a passive user and understanding some of the perks and benefits right away (this was expressed frequently in my survey and interview responses).
One design consideration is the bottom bar on each of the cards indicating the % match a job is to you. For jobs that are a match over a determined percentage (Example: 90%), the bar will use the accent blue color so it's a stronger call to action. All other jobs will have a gray colored bottom bar.
Recommended Jobs (Video)
If Taylor clicks "See More" at the end of the carousel, she will see the following screen. Here the recommended jobs are presented in a list format, but contain all of the same information. A pain point I uncovered was the current design does not have any filtering on this page. Taylor might be presented 20-30 recommended jobs and would benefit from having the ability to narrow down the recommendations. I've added a filter icon to the top right as a solution to this pain point.
Reminders and Communicating with Taylor
Part of attracting a passive candidates' interest is through engagement, and LinkedIn plays a large part in facilitating the engagement. There are a few approaches to notification design and where to best integrate it. For this case study, I focused on two types of notifications: Feed and Push.
The following video shows a design solution for feed notifications. Taylor spends much of her time scrolling through her home feed, looking at posts and articles from companies and connections she admires. If posts are not specifically job related, Taylor might not know which companies have roles that are applicable to her interests and career goals.
My design solution is to display notifications that are relevant to the posts she is viewing or stopped on. For example, if Taylor sees a post about Apple and there are relevant job opportunities for her, the post will display a message. An additional example is if a LinkedIn recruiter has sent Taylor an InMail and she has yet to read it, a post in Taylor's feed published by LinkedIn could display a message about checking her messages. This not only addresses discoverability, but it also focuses on providing a personalized and focused job search experience for Taylor based on her specific needs in a potential new job search.
LinkedIn Feed Notifications (Video)
Push notifications are important for attracting the attention of passive users, especially when they have been inactive on LinkedIn for a while. An engaging use of copy is typically best practice for push notifications in order to establish the value in clicking the notification. I designed 3 push notification variations, each communicating a different approach in gaining Taylor's attention.
Personalization + User Control
One of the primary ways to win over passive candidates is to ensure they're in control of their job search. Feedback received during my user research phase suggests passive candidates using LinkedIn do not always feel like they have the amount of flexibility needed to feel confident in a new job search. Two main pain points that were frequently identified are filtering and convenience.
While LinkedIn currently has great filters when searching for jobs, it's missing a few key filter categories that are especially valuable for passive candidates: company, salary and benefits.
New Job Filter Categories (Video)
Throughout my research I found a common theme amongst the individuals I interviewed: allow for more accurate and personalized job results through additional specific filtering. I've provided an overview graphic below that shows how new filter categories can be integrated into LinkedIn's current career interests section. The pain point I'm solving with this suggested design is receiving recommended jobs or InMail messages for jobs that aren't a fit for what passive candidates like Taylor are looking for.
Convenience (Jobs Nearby)
Routine is an important part of an employee's lifestyle partly because of numerous job related factors, such as a long commute. In areas including Los Angeles and the Bay Area, long commutes are normal but not always ideal. This pain point is what my next design solution addresses, and my suggested enhancement to the Jobs page becomes a key value proposition in making job searching on LinkedIn more attractive to passive candidates.
New Job Filter Categories (Video)
The user can set a desired radius from their location (in this prototype Taylor has selected a 2-mile radius) and be shown jobs that are nearby. This map takes into account the "preferred companies" selected in their jobs settings, so candidates will not be overwhelmed with job openings (this can be adjusted in settings).
Job Posting Page
When a passive candidate is reviewing a job, the job posting needs to catch their attention within the first 10-15 seconds. A pain point users expressed was that the job posting page does not provide much value in regards to why they should consider leaving their current job for a new one. Passive candidates need to understand why it makes sense to leave their current role for something new, and the job posting page plays a critical role in this. My solution includes a redesign of the top section of the page, a new way to navigate all of the content, and several new widgets.
Redesigned Job Posting Page (Video)
Updates to top level info and navigation
For design consistency across my design suggestions and to immediately provide users with the most important information about a job, I redesigned the top section of the job posting page. The new design carries over the circular company icon from the other pages and has the salary and a benefits snapshot included for quick reference.
A better way to navigate
The jobs page is full of rich content that provide a thorough overview of the job, in addition to including connections, commute time, similar jobs and salary estimates. My design suggestion addresses the pain points of cognitive (over)load, navigation and hierarchy as the current design and layout can be difficult to scan and identify key pieces of information.
The jobs page has many useful widgets that provide job seekers insight into roles and companies. However, passive candidates still require more information to determine if leaving their stable job for something new is the best decision for them. My new widget suggestions address the importance of job satisfaction, the interview processes, company rating, transparency and culture.
LinkedIn would use an algorithm to determine the increase or decrease in job satisfaction for any potential new job in comparison to your current one.
For passive job seekers time is valued, and a long interview process is not always ideal. This provides insight into the typical process.
Transparency, culture and reviews are all important in determining company fit. Including employee reviews and videos helps with this.
This case study has provided a deep dive on how passive candidates can be engaged and become interested in exploring new opportunities through creative design solutions. However, the other user that we want to turn our attention to is the recruiter (or hiring manager). Since some feedback received included "Recruiters keep messaging me with spam emails" and "I wish recruiters would know how to write better messages", I spent some time looking at how LinkedIn can help recruiters in two areas: Posts and Messages.
A recruiter might be working on several job openings at once and want to attract as much high quality talent as possible. In this scenario, my solution is having the ability to post multiple job openings at once in a single post. The layout of this post references the layout for recommended jobs, and includes in feed notifications below the post, so users will be familiar with its design and interaction. This solution addresses the pain point of recruiters sometimes gaining little momentum on job postings.
Bulk Job Post (Video)
Messages (Introducing Templates)
When you are not actively looking for a new job, messages on LinkedIn can be sparse. However, recruiters are still actively looking for the best talent, and will continue sending messages to many types of LinkedIn users. First impressions are important in a job search, and an initial InMail message from a recruiter carries a lot of weight in a passive candidate's decision to explore new opportunities with them. This solution addresses the pain point of recruiters sending poorly written/structured job related messages to LinkedIn users, with the negative impact felt strongest by passive job seekers.
Message Templates (Video)
Conclusions and Future Considerations
This case study has covered my approach to solving the problem of trying to gain a passive candidate's attention on LinkedIn for new job opportunities. Early on, I identified several problems that I focused on solving through an improved experience for passive candidates and recruiters/hiring managers. These problems include low discoverability of recommended jobs, a need for more personalization and user control over the job search and minimal ways of displaying the value in exploring new roles. My research also communicated a need to assist recruiters when initially communicating with passive candidates in order to have an improved chance of gaining their interest.
While my design solutions provide improvements across several areas of LinkedIn, there are some other design enhancements (and iterations) that I would explore in the future. The filtering section on the jobs page is important for narrowing down the kind of jobs a user sees and specifying to LinkedIn what their career interests are. My solution allows users to select specific companies so they will only see job recommendations from those companies (they can also adjust their settings to only receive messages from employees at the selected companies). I think an override via salary requirements toggle would be great. This would override your selected companies so you can hear from companies that might be offering a great salary package.
The idea of notifications helps re-engage users and reminds them of important info. Some users might save their settings and forget to ever adjust their preferences as their career interests change. Notifying the user every 6 months to see if their career interest preferences are up to date is something to explore. Further, to provide some variety in the job search, LinkedIn could send a message or email to users about companies that are not part of their companies selected. The criteria for this would be based on if the job satisfaction estimate is higher than the estimate for their current role.
Lastly, with more time I would perform several tests on my design solutions to see how they perform and what adjustments or additions need to be made. I would also look at LinkedIn's desktop platform to see how to best integrate my new design components and layouts, in addition to wearable technology interface design to narrow in on the most critical aspects and interactions of one's job search journey on LinkedIn.