UX Minus the BS: Putting People at the Centre of User Experience


Sam Smith

Vice President & Managing Director, EMEA

What does the user experience mean in talent and how can organisations shape the experience of the people who are connecting with roles or searching for skills?

UX used to be a term thrown around only by developers and tech experts. Now, it’s become part of an ever-growing dictionary of corporate buzzwords. And the more it becomes an empty acronym to throw out carelessly on video calls and social media, the less it actually means. At the heart of UX is something really important – users, in other words, customers, consumers, stakeholders…people. In the talent industry, people are at the centre of everything we do, and organisations have a responsibility to create a positive experience for people engaged in talent acquisition, no matter what form that experience takes.

Focusing on the How

User experience is the journey, it’s how you get from where you are to what you need, and that bit in the middle really matters. Think about whipping cream with a hand whisk compared to an electric whisk. One will leave you sweaty and swearing; one will leave you feeling satisfied and unruffled. Both will give you whipped cream, but the how part, that’s important. The same is true if you’re a hiring manager, slogging through endless complex screens to engage a contingent worker, versus a hiring manager who flows through a smooth, intuitive, and responsive system. By developing a real understanding of the journeys that your users take and how that journey looks and feels to different types of users, you can begin to build smarter user experiences.

Technology that Delivers on Meaning

Technology should be intuitive, simple, accessible, and it should make the person at the centre of the process feel meaningful. This could be something small – an internal candidate who applies for a position shouldn’t receive the same email acknowledgement as an external candidate. They are already part of your gang; a completely impersonal message when they have five years of service is off-putting and disappointing. That’s one tiny part of the talent user experience, but it shows how small choices can have a massive impact. Organisations need to balance the personal and shared aspects of experiences so that people feel part of a clear, inclusive process. This could mean anything from personalised email responses to individualised login screens.

Today, your tech stack is a vital part of this puzzle. User experience can’t rely only on technology, but great technology can enable a great user experience. At KellyOCG, building an industry-beating talent tech stack is something that we are incredibly proud of, and we understand that it’s not just about one stand-out bit of shiny tech. The interplay of smart, flexible, connected technologies is what delivers a seamless user experience.

User Experience Means Every User

User experience is for everyone, not just people who look and think like you. Too often, talent processes have inbuilt and invisible bias. They are designed for people from a particular background, with a particular educational experience, and a particular way of seeing the world. User experience needs to consider all users. These could be neurodiverse candidates and end-users, those from a non-traditional work background, or those who connect with technology in different ways, such as the visually impaired. Beyond that, your user experience needs to consider all platforms – including mobile, web, and even paper systems. This is a huge amount to consider but pushing the boundaries on the way your organisation thinks about user experience can help you to connect with a whole range of diverse people and ideas.  

User Experience = People Experience

Great UX is people-centric. So, let’s throw away the condensed version and expand the concept to its full two-word status – focusing on human need over a glossary term. We need to deliver an experience for all people that are engaged in talent acquisition, understanding that user experience isn’t always rational; it is as much about how you make someone feel as measurable output. When we were developing our powerful but simple-to-access managed service provider (MSP) solution, KellyOCG GO MSP, we put ourselves in the shoes of the users who would engage with every part of the process. How would they feel? What would they see? Where were the bumps in the process that we could remove to make every step flow intuitively? User experience was never an afterthought or a tick box; it was (and is) a critical part of how we deliver incredible service.

Unlocking Access to Talent

If you’re thinking, why should I care? Why am I getting so riled up about an acronym? The reason is that building people-first processes isn’t only the right thing to do from a human perspective, but it actively improves access to talent. A poor user experience, to be blunt, gets people fired up. It provides a negative feeling around your business, which could cause a great candidate to abandon your application halfway through, a hiring manager to find loopholes in your processes, or prevent suppliers from putting their best candidates forward. If your technology, process, or engagement aren’t up to scratch, it puts your whole organisation on the back foot when it comes to skills. I believe that delivering epic user experiences is the key to unlocking brilliant, business-changing talent, and it’s a strategic priority you can’t afford to ignore.


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