SmartRecruiters is a white-label enterprise that sources and tracks applicants for a multitude of jobs. Businesses use SmartRecruiters for recruitment efforts.

The Problem

 Our job was to re-design the brand and optimize the application process to give ultimate success and efficiency to job seekers. We did this in two forms:

1. User –  optimize the current user experience on the SmartRecruiters platform. This included optimizing the job ad that was displayed through the SmartRecruiters interface, the application and it’s flow, as well as the portal in which the candidate was able to track their documents. 
We also wanted to increase user engagement by researching different ways that the user would want to follow through on their application process. This entailed considering a resume tracking system, operational filters, and more.

2. Business – our long term goal for businesses using SmartRecruiters as their job portal was to create value for job seekers with their “SmartProfile”. SmartProfile was an account made for the company in which they were able to showcase their job ad, what they were looking for, and more. Another goal entailed increasing the user conversion rates through the job posting from the enterprise.
These goals were focused on creating awareness of the SmartRecruiters brand as a job source site, and on incorporating the brand into an existing enterprise platform that is used consistently by every company.

 

Application Process

Design Process

The research that was produced for SmartRecruiters was of multiple parts, and all were dedicated to optimizing the current user experience with the product, as well as increasing user engagement. We divided our research to focus on understanding the current brand, understanding the top competition and their strategies, and deciphering how users used the current application today.

Cognitive walk-through: walking through the process for ourselves, understanding how it works, what we felt was missing, getting familiar with the overall product

Comparative analysis: Conducting research-based analysis of other companies in the same industry as SmartRecruiters, and pinpointing what they did wrong, what they did right, their process flow, etc.

Usability testing: Contacting job-seekers at random to go through the current process flow of SmartRecruiters – this was essential in discovering the best way to promote engagement throughout the application process.

Ideating: Brainstorming ideas on what we could do to solve the pain points; creating ideas and methods based off of research in how we could overcome the challenges that the product was facing

Planning: Laying out an outline on what our end goal looked like, where we were, and how to get there (this took longer than expected because of the various routes to achieve an optimized process flow, job ad, and increased user engagement.

Affinity mapping is essentially used to gather large amounts of data and deduce relationships out of that data. We did this by taking basic, elemental notes on a pad, and then grouping them together based off of importance to the company and importance to the client. 

Affinity mapping is extremely helpful because extracting relationships from data enabled us to understand what pain points we wanted to focus on, and also begin to wrap a story around what the client truly needed solved as part of their product goals.

For the business portion of the project, we wanted to create awareness of the SmartRecruiters brand as a job source website, and after conducting usability research to understand how users currently saw the brand, we created an affinity diagram to consolidate pain points and create a task flow off of how we wanted the brand to function. This also helped us to increase our user conversion rates.

 

Wire-framing is the beginning of build. It’s when our team put their architect hats on and delved into the process of putting our ideas to paper. Wire-framing helped us conceptualize the current user experience on the SmartRecruiters platform and start sketching out the pain points that we wanted to solve.

For example, the form on the SmartRecruiters profile needed to be adapted to easier copy, have relevance to the user, as well as clear up any difficulties in the drop down forms. Because these areas of opportunity had various methods in which we could improve them, the team got together and created individual wireframes on what the solution would look like. Afterwards, we got together and presented our wireframes to the team, discussing our solutions and using a dot-voting method to vote on which wireframe we liked best.

Dot-voting helped keep our opinions unbiased and anonymous, and also proved valuable in consolidating our efforts to one specific wireframe.  

After the wireframe, we focused on task flows: the process of the application through the SmartRecruiters profile. This was handled in a similar way: each team member made their own task flow and presented it to the remaining team, suggesting different insights on how to go about optimizing the process. This was a challenging task in and of itself – there were diverse ways in which each member thought we could optimize an application process, and discussing the methods took several days.

After creating task flows, it was time to begin prototyping. The software we used to prototype was the industry favorite, Sketch, and we used it in creating the task flows come to life. Along with the task flows for the application process, we also created a revolutionized version for the job ad – the prospective information that the candidate sees when applying for a job. Lastly, we changed the candidate portal for SmartRecruiters. The candidate portal was for the applicant to track their status, access their many applications, and to help increase the companies follow through.

The benefit of prototyping is that it’s easy to iterate on our designs as soon as we catch a flaw – all our team members were poring over each others designs, trying to understand the basis behind what idea would be best to use. Also, seeing the project come to life in this portion was exciting and motivating for the team. Client and employee interaction was increasing in this phase due to product specifications and the design style guide that was to be followed.

Medium fidelity was a product with increased detail from the prototyping stage. We selected three prototypes out of the ones iterated upon and then began to develop them using the design style guide given to us by SmartRecruiters. The stage of medium fidelity is important because it gives you a glimpse of what the actual product would look like when it’s shipped, but also presents the opportunity for you to iterate on the glaring changes that were not caught on the prototype.

At this stage in the game, we were in constant contact with our client and were able to validate our build as we added new features. The medium fidelity stage included a complete job ad form, a job ad poster, pop-up boxes to navigate through the application tracking system, an EEOS page, and the formal version of the candidate portal. 

The hi-fi stage was mostly an intricate extension of the mid-fi stage. In it, we got to work orienting the pixels to their exact matches, ensuring that the components matched up to the design system standards, and rechecking the entire flow to make sure it worked.

At this point, we had also zero-ed in on one particular flow that the client as well as the team had agreed upon, and were busy with the finishing touches.

User validation was the final stage of our product design process. In it, we had finished a prototype completely and it had satisfied the demands of the client.

However, we wanted to make sure that the product actually covered the pain points that were found, optimized the user application process, and overall resulted in the needed changes for SmartRecruiters as a company. 

To do this, we validated it across user interviews. At this point, any discrepancy the validation testing found was minimal and easily solvable, due to the benefit of constantly testing and reiterating throughout our entire process. 

After validation, it was time. We were ready to ship!

Pain Points

Task Flow

The task flow was split into five different possibilities, ranging from the point at which the application creation form was offered (beginning, middle, end), to how it was offered (LinkedIn, Indeed, Resume), as well as the process flow from application creation, to account creation, to signing in. As you can see, the job of designing the most optimized flow for SmartRecruiters was a challenging task – albeit one that our team took on enthusiastically.

Impact

  • Future versions of SmartRecruiters will showcase our research and the developed task flow

  • The user research for the job ad, the application process, and the job seekers candidate portal provided value to SmartRecruiters in understanding their future target market, as well as the many pain points that their users were already having with the product

  • The revised application flow was created and delivered based off of the focus areas we found in our research

  • The SmartRecruiters brand was revolutionized through increasing user engagement, increasing conversion rates, and seamlessly incorporating the current enterprise brand.

The Product

Takeaways

Working with the client throughout each stage of the process is a deliberate dance – one in which communication, patience, and perspective play key roles. This project taught me diplomacy in the face of strongly held opinions, and collaboration in the face of challenges.

Organization amongst individuals is a lot different than organization in terms of team management and work. I found myself learning how to implement both, what with my own work and with being part of a team united towards a common goal. It was impressed upon me how powerful a team is when working together, and just how much it can be stumped if there is a link that is proving to be difficult. I learned a lot about making sure I was as seamless as possible with my team, but at the same time made sure that my voice was heard if I had something to say.