College recruiting is more challenging than for the experienced professionals as most students don’t have many experiences that differentiate themselves from others. Recruiters also find the process is much more time-consuming as students don’t look for opportunities and reach out to them as much as the professionals.
Not scalable - recruiters need to travel school to school, and there is no inter-university database they can search talents
Hard to figure out good candidates from their resumes as students usually don't have real-world experiences to differentiate
No efficient way to filter down to quality candidate, search by keywords doesn't give full insights into what skills students acquired
Major talent platforms like LinkedIn don't have student
Our unfair advantage is the rich, multidimensional students’ data: 1) the academic progress from our traditional textbook and study services, 2) the educational + non educational histories collected through Chegg account service, and 3) resumes and their job search histories on internships.com. We have built our strength around how to create meaningful connection between students and their career opportunities through our previous experimental projects, Gap analyzer at internships.com and CareerMap Explorer.
HIGH-LEVEL MATCH CONCEPT
The executive decision was made to go after employer market instead of focusing on students. The first product/market is Talent Analytics Platform - a B2B job platform for employers to search top students.
Goal and scope
The project scope is building an advanced student-employer matching platform from the ground up. It is going to be a standalone platform, not a part of existing Chegg products. For MVP, the access will be limited to pre-approved business accounts and eventually in the long run, we will build the full-fledged service open to any businesses and students.
GV Design Sprint has been widely discussed in the UX team and never be used for this kind of large scale projects. Given the scope and goal, this project seems the perfect candidate for it because 1) the challenge is big - our product goal is building a completely new kind, 2) the collaboration is critical at the beginning to set the direction and get all the stakeholders on the same page, and 3) our team is small, so the sprint can help us, designers - we only have two - be more efficient and productive.
Design Sprint Schedule
The biggest challenge to try Design Sprint is it requires five-days full-time commitment for all the sprint members, but for some of high-level managers it’s impossible to make the commitment and we don’t want to miss them in the design sprint as their information is critical and we cannot move forward without their agreement.
So we modified the original scope and came up with our version of the mini sprint. Basically, the differences are 1) sprint members can only share three hours for three days. 2) Designers will be fully responsible for building user flow and prototypes. Finally, 3) research will be implemented as usual - observing sessions is optional, but a researcher will give a debrief.
Mini Sprint Plan
A Big Challenge: find the most compelling value prop for the new product
Decider: Lead Product Manager
Advisors: VP of Business, and VP of User Experience
Team Members: Lead Designer (me), Designer, User Researcher, Principal Product Manager, Business Development
Extra experts: VP of Business, VP of User Experience, Director of Talent Acquisition, and Sales Manager
DAY 1: UNDERSTAND
We set our war room in the research lab equipped with whiteboard, blackboard, pens, sticky notes, papers, clock, couches, chairs, desks and lots of cushions. There are some sweet snacks with coffee/tea to soothe our team members when our sessions get intense :)
On the first day, there are three steps as following: 1. Goal setting, 2. HMW exercise and 3. Map of challenges. Before we start the sprint, a homework was given to everybody to read the project documents to understand project background, competitive landscape, and our business goal and direction.
Session 1: Goal Setting
Now is the time to think about our long-term future. What is the future of our company in 5 years? Why are we doing this? What’s the business goal? Where do we want to be in the long run with this product?
Our goal is to create a place where employers go and find the right talents for the entry-level jobs. We will provide non-biased student's evaluation based on skill matches, not only about their school names.
LONG TERM GOAL:
Create a place where employers go and find quality students for entry-level jobs
How to help employers find the best candidates?
Can employers easily post jobs?
What devices, interfaces, mechanics should we consider?
How to convince employers to pay?
How to inform our value props?
How to demonstrate our values?
How to allow employers to convince students to work for their companies?
MAP OF CHALLENGES:
Session 2: HMW
After the goal setting, we started building the map of challenges and How Might We. Everybody spent alone time to write down their HMW on the the sticky notes, and after all finished, we read our own notes out loud one by one to share with the team. We collected them on the wall under category. Here is the summary of this exercise and main themes we found:
Let employers preview candidates before job posting (presell)
Help employers understand why they should take time to post job and verify skills (communicate strong value prop)
Ease the process for employers to post jobs (remove posting huddles)
Help employers create great job descriptions so they can get excellent matches (job description help)
Integrate into existing employers workflow (integration)
Many of us think about HMW "remove posting huddle" and "communicate strong value prop." Communication is more subtle sprinkled over all places, so we decided to focus on job posting section at this sprint.
DAY 2: DIVERGE & DECIDE
Now is a party time! The first day is all about learning and understanding to get everybody in the same page in terms of goals and direction. As of the next step, we would all roll up our sleeves and participate in actual design work.
Sketching ideas can be a bit intimidating non-designers, and it would be nice we can spend enough time to let everybody get comfortable in brainstorming. However, first, we have very condensed timeline and second, brainstorming can be more effective when it’s done in private as it will give a little more safe space for introverts as well ass help preventing group thinking.
So we got separated and everybody took a private time to sketch their own ideas. They would come up with 3 to 5 ideas but we didn’t put any limit in terms of numbers. Instead of having a lightening demo as a group everybody is allowed to use internet search or any online resources for inspirations and we would share where we get the idea if it is not original and would try to develop further on top of it.
Everyone is a designer.
The room was full of creative sparks when we presented our ideas and discussed pros and cons of them. This moment gave me lots of great inspirations and perspectives I would not have been able to think about on my own. We are all creative if we have a challenge to solve and right tools and spaces.
Session 1: First Round Brainstorming
We posted our sketches on the wall, and everybody presented their ideas and explained why and how. We had quick Q&As and design critiques at the end of each presentation. After finishing the review, we had silent time to look through all ideas on the wall to digest and prepare ourselves for the next round.
Here are the four themes found from the first round:
Showcase student matches as early as possible
Guide job selection and post with templates and samples
Engage users by showing real-time updates of students matches
Put skills at the center of the job posting experience
Session 2: Second Round Brainstorming
The second round sketch is intended to have us a chance to develop our ideas on top of others. Through the first round, we got inspired from each other and learned how everybody approached solutions from different perspectives. These differences stimulate us and eventually help expand our idea pool, so we can think about better solutions with more ideas. This is how our creativity gets the light. It’s not coming out of one’s contemplation, but it shows more open from the combinations of all different ideas and thoughts.
Here are more developed concepts after the round:
Show matches as early as possible
Allow advanced filters to change the match results
Make job posting a part of match not separated
Display clear visual indications (percentage graph, score, skills, etc )
The 2nd round confirmed our design focus and value prop we would like to communicate. We will focus on "Match," - the active candidate search with easy setup and advanced filtering. After the exercise, the team sat together and discussed what questions we don’t have answers. The questions are collected and decided to use for further research and user testing.
Do we need Match score? What formats make sense to users?
Can we suggest the new job description format? Would employers like to use the new one?
How to make not confusing Matches vs. Applicants?
Instant matches by filtering vs. sluggish applicants by job posting
How employers see them differently? Prefer?
Day 3: Prototype
For the condensed sprint, we decide for designers to take the prototyping exercise. From now, we - I and Lillian- are getting to more regular but fast design process.
The primary focuses design needs to show are 1) how to make it simple and intuitive to post jobs and to set skills and 2) how to make matches look more attractive, so employers want to continue.
First, we split our tasks into the job posting flow (me) and visualization of skills (L). We spent just couple hours working separately and synced up one hour for quick review. It was very efficient as we’ve got so much inspirations and the sprint members became a great support whenever we felt stuck. This is the greatest value I found. Everybody feels a part of design team.
Concept A: Post your job and see the matches
In this concept, the first step for posting a job by selecting a job template in carousel. Each card shows top required skills and simple job descriptions.
Once a user picks a card, the card will turn to the job posting form with pre-populated contents. The job posting form has two main features which distinguish this design from other traditional job posting: 1) required skills are preselected and displayed in the form, and 2) all inputs have very detailed templates easily switchable from the list displayed on the right side of each input.
We were sure that with these two features the job posting process can be much faster. Once a user submits their job, the form screen rolls up to the top under the signpost, and student cards appear from the bottom. When we display the list by filtering or matching, how to prioritize and how to present (linear or grid, same size or different size) are always big questions.
On the third screen where users finally see their matches, we decided not to have the stacked list as the order introduces the unnecessary sense of ranking candidates. Instead, we decided to try the grid layout but few selected top matches at the top to be considered to be used for special occasions or strong cases.
Concept B: Get matched and post your job
The main focus of concept B is creating the flow looks like more matching less job posting to reduce the job posting huddles. Basically, it’s simply switching the order from concept A but it feels very different.
As of the first step users are asked to set simple filters - job title, skills, and locations - to see matches. Job posting will be asked and completed after seeing the matches.
DAY 4: REVIEW
It’s time to everybody's feedback. This time we would like to continue the design sprint spirit :) Instead of having the design projected in the large screen, we printed them out and put on the wall. This is going to be a silent review, so everybody would go through one by one and write down their thoughts directly onto the papers or on sticky notes.
The result looks like below. Some of the screens are full of sticky notes and texts and some others are almost empty. There are some sketches drawn to show their ideas. We together went to through one note at a time and asked follow-up questions if we need clarifications. This silent review turned out to be very inclusive as everybody’s voices were heard and nobody’s opinion was weighed more than others.
Make the job posting progress bar more prominent
Emphasize skills on the template selection
Give employers options to start from scratch
Display the total size of the candidate pool on the job posting
Add filters on the candidate list
Show the match score on the candidate card
DAY 5: TEST
The user interviews were conducted online with 8 business users on Internships.com. It’s very high-level concept testing, and the team hasn’t figured out what segments we want to pursue first, so we recruited very diverse group of users from small to large in terms of company size and from professional recruiters to hiring managers/business owners regarding their roles. All of them uses multiple job boards to fill their needs for interns and entry-level employees, so they would give us good comparison for current job board apps.
Here are the main takeaways:
Participants all mentioned that the biggest challenge in recruiting is sorting out the top candidates from tons of applicants. They want a simple and quick measure to see the best matches for their needs.
The template-based job posting is not very attractive to the employers as they already have the job descriptions ready to use and don’t likely change much. Also, they think the unique job description is the best way to show their differences as well as attract better fits.
They thought matches are less attractive than applicants, but don’t mind investing time to reach out quality students. Also, they want to know if the matches are actually active job seekers and their information is up-to-date.
The conversations with users always open our eyes and bring up refreshing ideas. We feel humble on making bold assumptions about what they actually need, but don’t feel intimidated at all not knowing good answers yet. Building a great solution takes step by step not one big stride, so this first research after design sprint helps us set the design direction and take our first step toward . The team had a good conversation after the research debrief at the end of day 5 and made decisions to move forward.
Show matches first (Concept B) and make matches and applicants look more distinctive in the list (for the future).
Create a simple UI to show matching score (for the future)
Drop the template idea but keep the job posting form and skill selection simple
5 Weeks After
After the sprint, we came back to our regular workflow. I have made 5 rounds and stepped out of the project as I joined the new team in San Francisco. The project is still ongoing and has gone through many directional changes. The final two versions (version 4 and 5) I made show very well the difference between our initial thought and the new direction.
Version 4 looks similar to the existing job board but the big differences are 1) matches are shown before applicants with simple score and filters, and 2) match score is linked to the job description, so it can be changed by editing job descriptions. This version has been evolved based on user feedback and internal design review.