Text, text, and more text. With maybe some bullets. Or a lot of bullets. That just about summarizes your average job post. Without even such basic enhancements as links, text formatting, and images, few job posts do their job: inform job seekers about the role, and get them excited about applying.
Here’s how we at UXswitch put job posts back to work.
Common problems with job descriptions
Take the following job description for a senior UX role—the one on the left. The listing has at least 3 big problems from the job seeker’s perspective:
1. It lacks focus
Much of the “Job Description” portion of the listing focuses on the size and history of the organization, rather than, you know, the job. A simple link could give candidates access to this info if they want it, without distracting from the job itself.
2. It’s overly wordy
Did you notice that the role consists of equal parts research, information architecture, and interaction and visual design? This critical information is buried in there somewhere. Go ahead, try to find it.
3. It doesn’t grab your attention
The job description includes an evocative differentiating statement: “Imagine a career … that brings smiles to millions of people every day.” But it’s buried at the bottom of the job description under “Additional information.” Who’s going to find it there?
UXswitch is all about putting the experience back into job seeking. So we decided to tackle this decades-old problem head on. Here’s how.
Redesigning the job description
As believers in the user-centered design process, we got started by gathering insights on and from our users, then created prototypes and tested them with real users.
Since UXswitch gives interface designers and user researchers a career site of their own, anything we created for this design-sensitive audience needed to be useful, usable, and engaging. Designing for mobile first made sense, since we believe it’s easier to scale up than to scale down.
Here’s what our process looked like:
Inspiration can come from the most unlikely places and designers are a pragmatic lot. So early sketches of our “Humanized Job Description” were done on the back of an EasyJet boarding pass in Stansted Airport in the UK. As you can see, we were already visual emphasizing the core pillars of a job description: location, income, and distribution of responsibilities.
2. Interactive prototypes
From sketches, we moved quickly on to simple wireframes and an interactive prototype. We chose InVision because of its intuitive interface, nifty commenting, and the simplicity of creating a prototype for both desktop and mobile.
3. User testing
In true guerilla style, we gathered feedback from attendees of design meetups in London and Amsterdam.
This testing proved vital as it helped us develop a more informed sense of the hierarchy of the job description. This mental model informed our presentation of the different kinds of information, from job location to the desired candidate attributes.
The solution: a humanized job description
We launched the “Humanized Job Description” in April 2015. Though we’ll keep refining over the coming months, we believe we’ve succeeded in our primary objective: to give the job seeker an excellent impression of a role at a glance.
We achieved this by focusing on the most relevant information and by providing clever techniques to reduce or replace text. These include:
1. Smart content input
Job posters use our customised WYSIWYG tool to create a job description. It groups the required information into manageable chunks, sets character limits, and gives thoughtful examples.
2. Simple links
Job posters can insert hyperlinks to relevant websites, videos, or Twitter accounts to cut down on copy.
3. Visual communication tools
A simple graph describing the time the job seeker will dedicate to each skill set or activity also saves paragraphs. This lets the job seeker quickly see what the job entails and determine their fit for the role.
The new design saves both candidates and employers time, money and effort. It also helps employers stand out from the crowd and attract the right candidates. Check out live examples for PayPal, Zoopla, Just Eat, and Skyscanner.
What we learned from redesigning the job description
Legacy methods of presenting info can seem set in stone, but with a little user research and creative thinking, you can reinvent content. By working at understanding our customers’ needs—on both sides of the fence—we discovered numerous ways of streamlining content, then translated those methods into defined interactions in our WYSIWYG tool.
by Frank Gaine
Frank founded UXswitch to put the experience back in to finding a job. He’s been a UX practitioner since 2001, working for global brands as well as exciting startups and charities.