Forget the candidate journey, it’s the hero’s journey I’m in for

Written by Gareth Peterson

I love a bio. Not. OK. Relatively well travelled, the coolest uncool dad struting the playground, but you’re probably more interested in Caroo. I’m part of a bonkers and uniquely weird bunch of people who will go above and beyond for their users, for their product, brand and each other. Let’s ‘av it.

The title has nothing to do with this article. I just wanted to manufacture a tenuous link between my reflections here and one of our recent video posts. I’m yanking you. It relates. I think.

The hero’s journey is pretty much the narrative of every movie you’ve ever watched. Where the main character leaves the ordinary world and crosses the threshold into a magical universe. One where they are faced with obstacles that they overcome to create a new and improved universe and grow as a character.

I have become a bit obsessed with how we create the recruitment experience that people want, not just for candidates but for talent acquisition specialists and hiring managers. Undeniably, there is not just huge scope to improve the experience for all stakeholders, but to do some seriously cool stuff with it. The way we are approaching it is how Brian Chesky (Co-Founder of AirBnB) designed their product experiences. I alluded to this user-led approach in my previous pie-related scripture, but I think it’s pretty awesome, so I wanted to share some of what I have learned, and I am adapting to inform our direction and vision.

First, Brian suggests that it will reap little reward focusing on your own industry, so we must look at orthogonal industries. Now. I have no idea what that word means and had to Google it (involving right angles, or statistically independent) but seen as he said that the best trips happen in cinema, it got me thinking, where do the best matches happen? Matches that change lives. Dating.

I met founders of dating apps and began researching how their algorithms operated. I then turned my attention to my end users and adopted one of Brian’s techniques. Below is how he describes it, in his own words,

“If you want to build something that’s truly viral you have to create a total mindfuck experience that you tell everyone about. We basically took one part of our product and we extrapolated what would a five star experience be. Then we went crazy. So a one, two, or three-star experience is you get to your Airbnb and no one’s there. You knock on the door. They don’t open. That’s a one-star. Maybe it’s a three-star if they don’t open, you have to wait 20 minutes. If they never show up and you’re pissed and you need to get your money back, that’s a one-star experience. You’re never using us again. So a five-star experience is you knock on the door, they open the door, they let you in. Great. That’s not a big deal. You’re not going tell every friend about it. You might say, “I used Airbnb. It worked.” So we thought, “What would a six-star experience be?” A six-star experience: You knock on the door, the host opens. On the table would be a welcome gift. It would be a bottle of wine, maybe some candy. You’d open the fridge. There’s water. You go to the bathroom, there’s toiletries. The whole thing is great. That’s a six-star experience. You’d say, “Wow I love this more than a hotel. I’m definitely going to use Airbnb again. It worked. Better than I expected.” What’s a seven-star experience? You knock on the door. Host opens. Get in. “Welcome. Here’s my full kitchen. I know you like surfing. There’s a surfboard waiting for you. I’ve booked lessons for you. It’s going to be an amazing experience. By the way here’s my car. You can use my car. And I also want to surprise you. There’s this best restaurant in the city of San Francisco. I got you a table there.” And you’re like, “Whoa. This is way beyond….”

Did he stop at a seven-star experience? You bet your sweet ass he didn’t,

“…So what would a ten-star check-in be? A ten-star check-in would be The Beatles check-in. In 1964. I’d get off the plane and there’d be 5,000 high school kids cheering my name with cars welcoming me to the country. I’d get to the front yard of your house and there’d be a press conference for me, and it would be just a mindfuck experience. So what would 11-star experience be? I would show up at the airport and Elon Musk would be saying, “You’re going to space.…”

And the point of the exercise?

“…The point of the process is that maybe 9, 10, 11 are not feasible. But if you go through the crazy exercise of keep going, there’s some sweet spot between they showed up and they opened the door and I went to space. That’s the sweet spot. You have to almost design the extreme to come backwards. Suddenly, doesn’t knowing my preferences and having a surfboard in the house seem not crazy and reasonable? It’s actually kind of crazy logistically, but this is the kind of stuff that creates a great experience.”

So we went about finding out what peoples’ ideal recruitment experience would be and even invited them to design what this experience could look like. As you would expect, the research threw up some very cool ideas that challenged the art of the possible, but if we look at the immediate quick wins, there were a few key learnings (and if you’d like to give our app a go, then visit the candidate page on our website – remember you don’t have to be looking for a job to want to know what’s out there, shameless plug):

  • We didn’t need a fancy, machine-learning, artificially intelligent, omnipotent, god-like, super-computer powered algorithm, that had its own theme music when it entered the room. We just needed to understand what people wanted to be matched on and build an experience that would collect the right data to enable this calculation.
  • People didn’t want recruitment agencies involved because, generally speaking, they complicate the experience (I worded that well).
  • Candidates wanted to be in control of who sees their data and only share it when a relevant, interesting opportunity surfaced (which they were happy to be notified about).
  • Candidates want to chat about an opportunity before committing to an application. It will drive out a quicker end-result for all concerned, before wasting anyone’s time.
  • We also found that people didn’t like CVs and job ads, no surprises there.

If we focus on what candidates would really love from their 9, 10 and 11-star recruitment experiences then they would love the opportunity to work at a new employer for a couple of days, before making a decision, to get a sense of what it would be like to work there: what’s the office and location like, is the work rewarding, who their teammates are and whats my boss like.

Ponder that. Because as Brian says, logistically it might be a bit challenging but there are things you and I can do to work towards that.

I’ll wrap up on this. Brian had discovered and defined a formula for this new Trips product, drawing inspiration from the movies. In his words,

When you first go to a city you need a welcome event within the first 24 or 48 hours where you’re around people. When you land, you need to get acclimated to the neighbourhood. By day two or three you need to have a challenge out of your comfort zone. If you do not leave your comfort zone, you do not remember the trip. If you can belong out of your comfort zone and something new happens to you, then there’s going to be a moment of transformation where the person you were in a small way dies and a new better version of yourself is reborn. Now, this is the narrative of every movie you’ve ever seen. They call it the hero’s journey.

Now tell me that doesn’t get you excited about how we design a recruitment experience that enables people to overcome obstacles and be rebirthed as better, professional versions of themselves.

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