About the Applicant
TheLadders is a comprehensive job-matching service and employment website for career-driven professionals, headquartered in New York City. We help professionals find the jobs and meet the employers that are right for their career goals.
We devised a unique approach I’ve been sharing in an effort to help other teams develop successful apps. We spent the first two weeks – in lean UX style – creating ideas to facilitate research around, then used that data to drum up ideas and identify our MVP (Minimum Viable Product). But we quickly realized app development is much harder to iterate upon than web work – making it hard to release something, measure it, and then release an update. So we devised a plan where we found 12 customers who used the app while we iterated on it for 6 weeks. With this ‘longitudinal study’ based on the customers’ needs and feedback, we were able to identify what works, what doesn’t work, and what we hadn’t thought of, and ultimately create an app that has consistently earned 4.5 stars in the app store. I spoke at a lean UX event about how we did this, in an effort to share tactical information other teams could use. I’ve included links to some files below.
Anyone who has been involved in a job search can probably appreciate the challenge affectionately referred to as the “black hole,” when job seeker efforts are met with silence. No replies, no calls, nothing – after lots of writing and applying. The primary cause for this problem is the technology separating the people involved, namely Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). You know what this is if you’ve ever had to complete an exhaustive online profile as part of a job application. These systems consume candidates and create for employers nothing but a database from which to recruit. They strip the entire process of personal connection. The job search is an emotional process – and for many it’s arduous and hard to know where and how to apply your efforts. We at TheLadders know that for job seekers, the sooner you can reach the real person on the other side of the job description, the better your chances are for success. (Our research indicates your chances of getting a call back plummet 72 hours after the job is published online, even if you were considered a good fit for the job – see research linked to below.) Further, 2/3 of our customers are conducting a job search while currently employed, which means they must be discreet. For these reasons, a mobile opportunity was clear. We set out to make an effective solution that helped ease the pain for job seekers. For recruiters – the other side of our ecosystem – their time is often wasted by two problems: (1) noise created by unqualified applicants, and (2) effort spent reaching out to job seekers who have no interest in entertaining a discussion (no “intent”). TheLadders’ mobile app is engineered to avoid these problems and help the right people connect more effectively – something we looked to the dating industry for inspiration on. How? By controlling for **relevancy**, letting users express **intent**, and capitalizing on **immediacy**. First, you’ll notice there is no open search in the app. Searching through jobs is a cumbersome mobile activity, and by using your profile information to match you with **relevant** jobs, we ensure that job seekers are only seeing jobs that they would be qualified for. Second, there’s no formal apply process – only a “like.” This is a simple, user-friendly way for the jobseeker to signal **intent. ** Finally, the application promotes – both within the app through sorting, and by pushing notifications – the most recent opportunities. This allows a **relevant** jobseeker to express **intent immediately**. The combination of these three items creates a powerful lead generation stream for recruiters, which is a boon to both parties. The right people are connected immediately. The emails sent to recruiters from the app have a 41% open rate and then 52% click-through rate – suffice to say, recruiters find these valuable. Job seekers who use our app have a leg up on other methods.
As mentioned before, 2/3 of our customers are conducting a discreet job search while employed – which means they turn to mobile devices for a personal experience. Additionally, they need to squeeze these activities between other professional obligations. Finally, because we know that the sooner they can respond to a new opportunity, the better their chances, the ability to be notified immediately can mean a lot for them. All of these reasons indicated that a mobile solution could make a meaningful difference for them to make progress on their job search in short spurts of downtime, maintain their privacy, and increase efficacy by being prompt. Beyond this, we looked to the unique mobile affordances to aid the user’s experience. If we know where they are, we don’t need to ask for location data. On the Android version, we can pre-populate their phone number, which could mean the difference between scheduling an interview with a recruiter within 10 minutes of the job being posted or hours or days later.
We monitor qualitative data through the app, user testing, and of course store reviews. Though, like any tool, there are customers who yearn for specific features, the message is clear: We’ve made the job search easier by giving users a well-engineered tool they can use on the go. Some comments from customers: “Easy to use, wonderful diversity in the jobs offered! Great salary opportunities. Application process is streamlined and the responses from the employers are prompt!” “Excellent app. Best way to keep up with opportunities while on the road. I have even started using it at home.” “Really clean interface for job search. Helps to take some of the stress out of it all!” “You cannot ask for a nicer, easier, job search app – although I have only used a portion of its capabilities I love it. It’s just way too convenient for someone who works all day, but is also checking out other options. II love that they even send me messages alerting me to new options!”
Our app is engineered to be part of an ecosystem of tools our customers can use for their job search. One behavior pattern we uncovered in our research is that of the “lead builder workflow” – using in-between time (say, in line for coffee) to queue up opportunities to inspect and take action on later. App users can view and save jobs they can access later on the web to review and respond to. We believe it’s important that we design the right contextual experience for each platform, but always remember that our customer’s relationship is with TheLadders on the whole, and our tools should complement and augment their ability to do what they’re here to do.
We are currently creating a recruiter app to complement and catalyze the job seeker application. By offering recruiters a way to view the newest relevant candidates and quickly respond to them, we are closing the feedback loop with greater immediacy. Further, we believe that mobile as a platform provides a playground on which to experiment and reinvent existing paradigms. The job seeker mobile app has made great ground reinventing the job ‘apply.’ We are looking at pushing this even further by asking ourselves questions like: Jobs are still being posted almost like a traditional ad in a newspaper – just in an online world. What if we can look at recruiters’ behavior when interacting with certain types of candidates and understand from that what position they are trying to fill? Using that behavioral information we can create something more powerful than a job description in order to connect two humans (a job seeker and a recruiter). This platform has enabled us to open up all sorts of exciting, convention-breaking questions.