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Guiding job seekers to their dream careers
Summit is a proposed mobile application that can help early stage job seekers obtain career guidance and build professional connections within their local communities.
Our 5 member team was tasked with designing a digital product that will help a public library strengthen it's relationship with the community it serves - specifically as it relates to job seekers.
UNDERSTANDING THE LANDSCAPE
The 'New' Public Library
As large sections of society face disruption brought about by technology, the humble public library has grown to become an important community space catering to broader social needs of the neighborhood. Local libraries today are providing much-needed resources like counseling, skill-building, technology workshops and career services to help their communities.
Learning From Librarians
We visited 5 local libraries and spoke to the staff members and managers. Particularly, my conversation with the Manager of Career Services at NYPL's Science, Industry and Business Library revealed the following:
Why are young job seekers not using the free career guidance available to them?
SPEAKING TO EXPLORERS
Our Target Participants
We decided to focus on early stage job seekers and spoke to 15 people between the ages of 22-40 years who were either actively seeking a job or pursuing skills to advance their careers. 80% of the participants were in their 20s.
What We Found
Young job seekers feel lost in their career journeys.
"I still don't really know what's right for me."
"I'd value concrete feedback that leads me to opportunities, not just general advice."
Young job seekers look for guidance that is customized to their individual needs and goals.
Young job seekers greatly value a professional network but struggle with building one.
"It's not really that easy to meet people within the industry. People are very busy."
Young job seekers face financial constraints and are budget conscious.
"If you are a job seeker, you can't really afford to pay that much."
Young job seekers are generally not aware of career services provided by the library.
"I've never been to the library specifically to ask for career help."
After analysing the insights from our user interviews, we created Meg to guide us through our design process.
"Follow your dreams and the money will follow."
Meg Simpson, 24
THE INEXPERIENCED JOB SEEKER
Meg, a recent graphic design graduate is passionate about the arts. She dreams of a career following her passions, but she isn't quite sure how to go about it.
Meg spends most of her days mass applying to graphic design jobs online without much success. She feels stuck and is losing her natural confidence.
She wishes she could speak to someone and seek guidance about her job prospects. But the cost of any such personalized service is an immediate deterrent.
To find a graphic design job
To connect with senior designers
To volunteer at the dog shelter
- To save money
Getting no responses from companies
Having no one to turn to for advice
Not finding specific career guidance
Lack of motivation to keep going
SETTING THE DIRECTION
The Awareness Gap
We discovered that our biggest challenge lay in the fact that young job seekers, who need the most guidance and have the least savings still perceive the library laregly as a place to study or borrow books.
Affordable and personalized career guidance and networking opportunities
0 out of 15 users
had used the library for career guidance
Free career service workshops, technical training programs and one-on-one career coaching
This presented us with an opportunity to create a product that would help the library connect with younger members by making free career resources more easily accessible to them. With this objective in mind, we formulated the Problem statement and Principles that would help guide our design process.
Our Problem Statement
Overwhelmed and cash-strapped early-stage job seekers need a way to get affordable and customized guidance on how to navigate the job search process.
Our Design Principles
Reaching out to strangers about your personal goals can be intimidating.
Our product will give users a safe space they can trust, with credible and reliable resources.
The job search process can be extremely alienating.
Our product will allow users to build a community of like minded people to feel supported and grow together.
EXPLORING DIFFERENT PATHS
Every career path is unique and needs specialized guidance.
Our product will provide users with resources according to their backgrounds and interests.
With a defined problem to solve, we brought out our pencils and rolled up our sleeves to come up with three divergent concepts for our product. We then tested the concepts with 15 potential users and gathered their reactions.
Scheduling one-on-one meetings with Career Guides
In addition to providing users with an easy way to book free sessions with career coaches, our product would connect users with senior industry professionals within their local library community.
Users greatly appreciated having easier access to senior industry professionals within their library community. They perceived the local community to be more approachable than a more distant LinkedIn community.
Users liked how easy and intuitive it was to schedule a coaching appointment.
Users wanted the option to hold video coaching sessions and not be forced to go to a specific library location to see a coach.
Making customized career related content more accessible
Building on the library's traditional role of providing information, our product will provide users with customized career and industry related content on a regular basis. For questions related to career services, users will also be able to consult library career coaches.
Users valued receiving customized news and articles related to their individual career journeys.
Users did not think that they would necessarily choose the local library app to to access curated content over a more international content portal like Medium or even Google.
Exploring career groups and events at the library
Exploring the role of the library as a social hub for community needs, our product will allow users to form career focused groups and attend career related events together at various library locations.
Users saw value in connecting with their peers, exchanging ideas and learning together within their library community.
Users liked how easy it was to find a relevant local group or to create a new one.
Users wondered about the feasibility of having private groups meet only at the library.
REACHING THE SUMMIT
Across our concept testing, we discovered a higher user preference towards making personal connections and obtaining customized career guidance. We therefore decided to combine the most valued features across the three concepts to create:
One mobile application to allow users to make personal connections for career guidance
Make appointments with library career coaches
Build connections with local industry mentors
Participate in local networking groups and events
Summit in a snapshot
Initial onboarding screens obtain relevant information about the user's background and interests to tailor their in-app experience.
Users can Skip and go to the Homepage at any time.
Users can find Library Career Coaches, view their bio and endorsements and book free one-on-one sessions with them at the library or over a video call.
Connecting with an
Users can view profiles of local professionals working in varied industries and send them a connection request.
Once accepted, both parties can begin communication through the app.
Joining Groups and attending Events
Users can explore and RSVP to career related or industry specific events held at various library locations. They can also join member groups and network with other members with similar interests.
Summit, a video walkthrough:
LEARNINGS ON THE JOURNEY
The Coach vs Mentor Conundrum
Coaches are experienced Career Coaches who are employed by the library.
Career Coaching sessions during regular work hours can be booked instantly on the Coach's calendar through the app.
Mentors are senior professionals within the library community who volunteer their time to support junior careers.
Mentors need to be sent a connection request and message before any further communication can commence.
During concept testing we discovered that our users did not immediately understand the difference between coaches and mentors. We had to test two more iterations before we reached our final design.
We started with assumption that users' understanding of the terms 'coach' and 'mentor' were the same as ours, but we were proved wrong.
We discovered that our users used the two terms interchangeably and were therefore confused about this home screen.
We tried using one blanket term 'Mentors' and using tooltips and special icons to help users understand the distinction between the two types of mentors.
This proved to be even more confusing as most users just ignored and clicked through the tooltips.
Our final version went back to showing the distinction on the main page with a succinct explanation and representative icons showing the difference and way of connecting.
We did not encounter any major issues with this version during our usability tests.
Multiple paths to the same goal
We tested our prototype with 5 young job seekers, giving them broad user goals related to accessing career guidance within the app: obtaining resume guidance, building a professional network or learning about industry trends.
This gave us a chance to explore the possible pathways that users might take in order to fulfil their stated goal in addition to checking whether they are successful in completing their goals.
Summit successfully offered users with a customizable and flexible experience, catering to their individual preferences.
Qualitative User Reactions
"I like how it’s mobile and how it’s very local-oriented - and that boosts my confidence more."
"It is quite easily navigable. I’m already used to this kind of a layout so it was very easy to use and follow."
Overall, all 5 test participants reported a high level of satisfaction with respect to using the app, both in terms of the app concept and in terms of the layout, language, and navigation of the app content. No significant task flow or information architecture issues were expressed by any of the participants.
THE WAY FORWARD
To ensure Summit's feasibility, the following user types need to be explored during the next phase of design:
Mentor participation is an integral part of the Summit experience and vital for Summit's success.
Some questions to consider:
How do we incentivize working professionals to volunteer as mentors?
What needs and aspirations do working professionals have that can be fulfilled using Summit?
What would make it simple and convenient for working professionals to volunteer their time to mentor young job seekers in their industry?
Career advancers (professionals interested in receiving skills and guidance in order to progress in their existing careers or to switch careers) could also potentially benefit from using Summit.
Exploring the needs and motivations of career advancers will also help keep young job seekers connected with Summit long after they are employed.
How do we help career advancers?
What are their specific needs and mental models?