Our Recruitment Story: Introducing our improved Careers site

The story so far:

Our industry has a serious and damaging problem with diversity and inclusivity.

In 2015 we took the decision to completely re-evaluate our recruitment process in order to create our own bias free and fair process.

The resulting Careers site has been at the heart of Bytemark’s Anonymous Recruitment process for over a year now. We have used it to process 200 applications and successfully hire 14 members of staff.

The process was certainly working, as we were getting many talented people through the door. However we knew it wasn’t perfect; we could do better.

After talking to successful applicants, other staff and stakeholders, it became clear that there were still usability issues with our Careers site, both on the admin and applicant facing sides.

We also felt that we could make the site even more appealing to applicants of all backgrounds through better explaining our processes and what people should expect from us.

Luckily we had a secret weapon, Hannah, our Placement Year Junior UX developer, who agreed to take on one of the most important projects within our company.

“Updating the Careers site was certainly one of the most challenging projects of my year with Bytemark. My main concerns were that the code needed to be well written and also understandable to any future developers who might further improve it.”

— Hannah Pirie

Research phase

Before starting this project, we were aware that we had some existing research to draw upon, mainly our interviews with successful applicants.

However this was understandably problematic, as these results would almost certainly be influenced by survivorship bias. We therefore wanted to go back to first principles and understand the obstacles faced by all applicants, regardless of their success.

We started off by speaking to a wide pool of people at a number of conferences, including AlterConf and PHP Yorkshire, to get a better understanding of the general issues people face when looking for a job.

Our questions were focused around understanding:

  • Which aspects of job hunting do potential applicants find the most difficult (and also the easiest)?
  • Which aspects of job hunting are the most important to them (and also the least important)?

This was extremely useful as we were able to validate some of the steps in our process and also gain a better understanding of the exact information we need to provide for people before they started their application.

Our Research Manager Kim, together with Hannah, then spent a great deal of time meeting with people to conduct usability tests on the site in order to answer the following questions:

  • What are people’s initial impressions of the Careers site?
  • What do they want to find immediately?
  • Can they find it easily?

From this, we were able to focus on improving the aspects that potential applicants found the hardest and were most important to them, while also addressing current usability issues.

So what’s new? (see the live site here)

We’ve gone from this:

To this:

As you can see, many of the changes are cosmetic, though they do make a real difference to the applicant experience.

We’ve redesigned the home page so the job openings are the first thing people see. We also added pictures of current staff members to show applicants the friendly faces of their interview panel.

One of the main UX features is the introduction of a sidebar to check the application’s progress.

We’ve also re-jigged the application and review pages so submit buttons are clearer and the important information is more visible. The handle page has had similar updates, including a more obvious button to generate a random handle.

Our work doesn’t stop here

Our Careers site will be an ongoing project, which we will continue to develop through uncovering fairer ways to hiring amazing and diverse candidates.

We hope you will continue to support us on this journey and are extremely receptive to any feedback you may have on our research and our Careers site!