Working in the careers arena over the past five years or so has highlighted the enormity of the task people face when asking themselves the question ‘what do I want to do as a career?’. The World of Work is dynamic and becoming more so, so tools to help in the decision-making process need to be simple, inspiring and well-informed. Many people find the current careers websites confusing or uninspiring, with some containing so much information, users struggle to know where to start, or end up lost as they navigate the site.
Tim Brown (2009) identifies that businesses must offer a stronger ‘customer experience’, and that the distinction between customer and producer is blurring. The traditional notion that the customer uses what is produced is changing so that the consumer plays a role in the production. This shifts the idea that only ‘designers’ design to a much broader platform of participants in the design process (Kuratko et al 2012).
The current career website offerings appear to make a number of assumptions:
- Awareness of self and how this translates to work environments
- Adequate literacy levels of users
- That those looking for career options are youth or starting on a career path
- Users have enough knowledge of industries to have a start point
These spaces seem to be not much more than information zones and, whilst they are a goldmine of information, there does not appear to be much thought given to end user characteristics. This in itself is a huge dynamic – we are talking about demographic characteristics that extend from youth to old age, literacy levels, gender, personal preferences, prior knowledge, accessibility, IT skills and ethnicity to name a few.
Over the past months, I have been interviewing potential end users and those who will be supporting end users, with the goal of designing and developing a careers space that will improve the user experience in the areas of engagement, learning and knowledge. My comments and views on these spaces have been supported by these interviews, with my initial concept not only being met with enthusiasm, but also getting the feedback to expand on the concept and get my design thinking encompassing the range of needs identified by the range of potential customers.
One of the challenges I see facing space designers is that the market is so broad, not to mention, much more savvy about what they want. Being able to communicate effectively and receive constructive criticism with a view to implementing suggestions is going to play an important part in designer competencies.
This is a major project and I am still very much in the design stage, although the transition to the product has commenced. At this point the most significant change to current sites, which is very much the foundation of the concept, is incorporating more personal knowledge into the exploration of careers process. Users are taken on a journey of self-discovery before they start investigating careers, with the ultimate goal of finding a career that leads to satisfaction and excitement about ongoing career development.