Career Compass: Navigating the job switch journey
Amanda Ha, Andrea Ha, Ilya Kuksenko, Logan Wang, Max Haak
For millions of Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided not only a moment to reflect on life today, but also a chance to reconsider the trajectory of life in the future. In its wake, more than half of US workers intend to look for new jobs over the coming year. They call it “The Great Resignation”. According to a 2019 survey by Indeed of full-time US workers, ”49% have made a dramatic career shift” and of those who have not, “65% say they’re either thinking about or previously considered, switching” (Indeed). Career changes are often successful, leading to greater job satisfaction and typical salary increases between 3% and 5%, yet despite these benefits, career switching can be a risky, intimidating endeavor, and people can be hesitant to make the leap.
Career Compass aims to make the career switching process safer, more transparent, and more successful for working adults ages 30–40 who want to find new careers. Whether it’s to a similar role or a completely different industry, this is a future-forward app that leverages a user’s past experience and desired interests to recommend feasible careers and networking events. When users first join the app, they can register as mentors — people who are willing to provide guidance and advice about the career they are currently in — or job seekers — people who are curious about new career options. Job seekers can leverage the career matching feature to explore possible career paths through insightful metrics about salary and education expectations. Both mentors and job seekers can find upcoming, local networking events related to their target career. The in-app messaging feature will allow text, phone, and video calls to help foster genuine connections between users. Every journey is different, but Career Compass will get you where you want to be.
Let’s get something on paper…
Fig 1. Initial paper prototype Fig. 2 Final paper prototype
With the help of interviews and surveys, our paper prototype was developed to focus on two main aspects: helping users find the career they want, and helping them connect to someone in that career to gain more career insights or a referral. Once the prototype was complete, we conducted five usability tests with people in and out of our target audience. We demonstrated how to interact with the design but kept instructions to a minimum.To provide users with context, we told them that they were Lawyers trying to discover which career to switch into next. They were told to register for the app, find a potential career that they were interested in, register for a networking event, and message a mentor. Due to the limited number of prototype screens, users were told to further explore Teacher as their new career even though they would be able to explore different options in the final product.
Many users were inclined to enter multiple pieces of information during the app onboarding. This observation informed our decision to break down the onboarding process into more screens categorized by information type. Users also found the career suggestions unintuitive as they didn’t understand which buttons to click and what the numbers next to each career were meant to communicate. To improve clarity and accessibility we included words on all of the buttons instead of symbols and added a percent sign next to the numbers indicating that it was the percentage that the career suggestion matched the user. Testing also revealed that users were skeptical of how the data was calculated in the Feasibility Details screen as seen in Figure 1 which led us to find data from more trusted resources. As seen in figure 2, we made multiple changes to finalize the paper prototype and performed two more user tests following the same procedure before moving to a digital mockup.
Fig 3. Digital mockup overview
Fig. 4 Mult-part job seeker onboarding process
Fig. 5 Matching to careers and exploring relevant metrics
One of the main functions that Career Compass supports is allowing users to get matched to careers based on data provided in the onboarding. The multi-part onboarding process with more specific fields shown in Figure 4, allows users to be more accurate with the information they enter. The app will use this data to generate career suggestions with a corresponding percent match, as seen in Figure 5, to help users gauge the feasibility of pursuing that career. Each career suggestion is now easier to navigate with clear labels for all buttons and numbers. Moreover, a user can see detailed information pertaining to salary projections, work-life balance, and necessary education which is gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These statistics were revised for more accuracy and credibility based on user testing of the preliminary and final paper mockup.
Fig. 6 Connecting with mentors through networking events
Career Compass also helps facilitate industry connections by allowing users to attend networking events for their desired career. While attending the event, the user can start a conversation with attendees using the in-app messaging feature. Through user testing in the final paper prototype, we received feedback that the relationship between career matches and its corresponding networking events was not clear. Therefore, in our digital mockup, we included an option to filter by saved career and removed the date and location search bars as seen in the first screen of Figure 6. However, searching by date and location is still possible by typing in the search bar. We also added “Save Event” and “View Details” buttons because users noted that these functions were not clear in our paper prototype.
Career Compass was designed to allow users to gain a clearer picture of their next career. Our research suggested creating a solution that would alleviate the burden of switching a career by providing suggestions and facilitating the networking process during a switch. With this application, it will be easier for users to switch into another field, with less stress and uncertainty. Moreover, since our app provides a better picture of the field, the hope is that users land a job that they really enjoy, thus making their employment long lasting.